CIRCASSIAN Provided by Mr Stevens of Holmer Green who has a very old tree. There are two Circassians noted in the old records, Circassian A and Circassian B. The former, according to Grubb, is known only in Buckinghamshire and Hertfordshire, the latter being from Kent. Early writers assumed they were the same and confused them with Black Tartarian. They have also become confused with one of two versions of Knight’s Early Black. This is the old established Buckinghamshire variety. Though the name goes back to the 19th century, it is not clear which one is referred to. The fruit is very large, very dark red, sweet and juicy, with dark flesh. The cherries have a long stalk and the trees have an arching habit. Middle-flowering.
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

 

CROOKED BILLET Around 2005, we were shown a very old cherry tree, by farmer and conservationist Tony Austin, at the Crooked Billet public house in Stoke Row, near Henley, Oxfordshire. It was close the end of life and believed to be under threat from renovations to the premises. We took cuttings, though the tree had not produced new growth and grafting cherries is rarely successful with older wood. It took a few years to nurse new trees through, in order to generate good scions. Trees then took time to fruit properly. In 2015 we had the first cherries, large, amber and red, paler in the shade. The fruit had juicy, sweet, pale flesh with a very interesting and slightly smoky caramel flavour. The original name might never be known and we have named it after the place. We think the original tree has now gone.

 

 

DANGLER Another old variety from Mr Martin Stevens. He has two very old trees. According to Grubb it is a Hertfordshire variety, but Mr Stevens’ ancestors have long known it in Buckinghamshire, albeit not far from the Hertfordshire border. It takes its name from the long slender stalks. The small to medium sized oval cherries, which become larger as the tree gets older, are mid to late in season. They are almost black with shiny skin and dark red, juicy flesh. Good flavour. Mr Stevens reports that the fruit seldom cracks. Middle flowering. *

 

 

 

DOESN’T SPLIT A ‘temporary’ name for another of Martin Stevens’ old trees, for which the true name has been forgotten. It is a medium to large, sweet and juicy dark cherry which has the advantage that the fruit does not split in years when wet summers and rapid growth can lead to other cherries bursting their skins. Middle season. Middle-late flowering. *

 

 

 

 

 

EARLY RIVERS Raised by Thomas Rivers from a seed of Early Purple Guigne. This dessert cherry bore its first fruit in 1869 and was introduced in 1872. The cherries ripen fairly early, occasionally even at the end of May, when they are red, gradually becoming near black. The skin is shiny and the flesh is dark red, melting and very juicy. Trees are very vigorous, with good crops. Early-flowering. Incompatible with Bedford Prolific ‘A’ and Ronalds’ Heart.

 

 

 

 
             

 

EMPRESS EUGÉNIE One of the ‘Dukes’, also known as Impératrice Eugénie. Discovered by M. Varenne in a vineyard at Belleville, near Paris, and first propagated by M. Gonthier in 1855. It fruits early in the season, by the end of June. The cherries have bright red skin, gradually ripening to dark purple-red, and with firm, juicy flesh, -sweet, but with a refreshing tang. It can be self-fertile, and was recommended by Bunyard as being good for garden purposes. Middle-flowering.

 

 

 

 

 

 

FROGMORE EARLY It was also once called Frogmore Bigarreau. Raised by Ingram, gardener at Frogmore around 1864. This dessert cherry has flesh of whitish yellow, juicy and very sweet. The skin is pale yellow with flushes of dull and bright red. The blossom is middle to late and this variety is therefore a more reliable cropper in years of late frost. The trees are fairly vigorous. Fruit is mid season.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

GOBLIN A very old variety, presumed of local Buckinghamshire origin, never mentioned in the historic literature and now known only to Mr Martin Stevens. His tree is over 100 years old and may be 150 or more. Now in his 90s, he remembers it fully grown as a child. The fruit is below middle size, black and more pointed than many cherries. Since the stone is larger in relation to the smaller fruit, it was used mostly for cooking, rather than dessert for the market, though it is a rich, juicy and sweet dessert fruit. His family prized it for pies and cherry turnovers. Middle-flowering.*

 

 

 

 

 
             

 

HERTFORDSHIRE BLACK A shiny black cherry of medium size, traditional to Hertfordshire. Juicy and sweet, but also with some history of being cooked. Having only had it a short time, in two summers of atypical weather, the usual ripening time is uncertain, as is the flowering time. We hope to add this information soon.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

HONEY CHERRY Historical references to this old English cherry are very few. Though there can be no certainty that the Honey Cherry we have now is the same, it is interesting to note that in 1671 Sir Francis Drope of Berkshire, in ‘Sure Guide to Raising and Ordering Fruit Trees’ said ‘The English Cherry called the Hony-Cherry is the stock whereon the earliest May’s do grow’. He was probably talking about the May Duke – also a very old cherry. In 2010, Martin Stevens, of Holmer Green, Buckinghamshire, a veteran of fruit trees and from a line of growers, informed George Lewis, a fruit collaborator of ours for several years, that he had found a Honey Cherry. Martin Stevens found it quite by chance, in fruit, overhanging the road from a small garden in Cookham, Berkshire. He directed George and us to the tree where we saw some fruit and took cuttings. Martin Stevens later confided that Honey Cherries, though excellent and very sweet, were never favoured for growing widely, as the skin was thin and they could not be picked and transported to market without damage. A pale and very juicy cherry.

 

KINGSHILL BLACK A very old tree at Cockpit Farm, Great Kingshill, Buckinghamshire, owned, along with several other old fruit trees, by the Nash family. Mr Nash was able to confirm that this tree was over 100 years old, from family records and memories, and this has been the only record known to us confirming that productive cherry trees can live that long. While always believing the probability, we had no such supporting evidence before that of Mr Nash. The cherries are dark and medium sized, ripening two weeks later than midseason. Mr Nash and his sister have known this cherry as Kingshill Black, and while similar, it is different to the Prestwood Black grown in the locality, Kingshill Black always ripening later.