An orchard of ancient cider apple trees has been saved for the nation after its owners gave it to the National Trust to look after.
The internationally important collection of 300 cider apple varieties includes evocatively-named apples like ‘Slack-ma-Girdle’, ‘Netherton Late Blower’ and ‘Billy Down Pippin’, put together over 25 years by collector Henry May at his Herefordshire orchard.
Material from each variety is being used to propagate new trees to plant in National Trust properties in the county each tree came from originally. They include Montacute House, in Somerset, planting 95 varieties to recreate the fruit orchards which once grew at the estate in the 19th century.
You can make cider out of any apple, but for the best flavour cider apple varieties are the ones to choose. Cider apple trees are grown just like conventional apples – though the fruit is generally too tart to eat raw. Now is a great time to plant them, too: ask at the garden centre here in Bitton and Warminster and we’ll help you find a good variety for you. Plant at the same depth as your tree was growing in the pot, and provide a nice sturdy stake, and you can be drinking home-brewed cider within a couple of seasons.