APPLE ACRE PLUM An interesting old plum in the orchard garden of Mr and Mrs Levy of Apple Acre in the old village of Ickford, Buckinghamshire. They have several very old fruit trees. This medium sized, purple skinned dessert plum is notable for its very late ripening and its tendency to stay intact on the tree, even into December. Sweet, juicy and rich, the plums are ripe in autumn.
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

 

AYLESBURY PRUNE A historic Buckinghamshire plum and the heart of a thriving industry for the London market, at one time. Widely grown throughout the county for centuries, it is now proving difficult to find. We are grateful to William Hawkins, of Pitstone Green Farm Museum, Pitstone Green in Buckinghamshire for supplying us with propagation material from their once large scale Aylesbury Prune orchards. The small to medium sized blue-black fruits can be eaten for dessert and they were prized for their availability late in October when earlier varieties had long finished. It is principally a cooking plum. The flavour is sweet and slightly acidic and the flesh a little coarse, but juicy. The trees have distinctive rough bark and twisted trunks. If not grafted, the trees in their natural state tend to sucker readily and have been used for hedging. Middle flowering. *

 

 

BELLE DE LOUVAIN An old variety, possibly raised by Van Mons in Belgium since it was found in his collection in 1845. The large purplish-red fruits, flattened one side, have yellow juicy flesh and are principally used for cooking. The flavour when raw is good in most years and very pleasant, but becomes richer when cooked. The fruit is ripe at the end of August, and was once much grown for the markets. Trees are vigorous and self fertile, but can be slow to start bearing. Middle flowering.

 

 

 

 

BRYANSTON GAGE Raised around 1800 and first mentioned in 1831 in the catalogue of the London Horticultural Society. It was named after the house in Dorset where it was raised. It is probably a cross between Old Greengage and Coe's Golden Drop. It ripens to pale yellow with red dots. The large fruit has a fine flavour and yellow juicy flesh. Ripe at the end of August. Self sterile. Middle flowering.

 

 

 

 

CAMBRIDGE GAGE Also called Chiver's Cambridge Gage, it is a form of the Old Greengage, possibly a seedling, found in the Cambridge area and kept distinct in the National Fruit Trials since 1927. It was popular because it fruits heavily, consistently and early. It dislikes cold and it crops better with cross pollination. Trees are vigorous. The rich, juicy fruit is ready at the end of August, and is almost indistinguishable from that of the Old Greengage, green turning yellow. Partly self fertile. Middle flowering.

 

 

 
             

 

CHINNOR PLUM An old single plum tree, whose name cannot now be determined, growing in an old orchard of apples trees, on the edge of Chinnor, East Oxfordshire, as the village ends and the fields roll up to the wooded Chiltern Hills and the Ridgeway. The orchard is owned by Mr Nixey, of Manor Farm, Chinnor Hill, who kindly gave us permission to replicate the trees. The large yellow plum, often with a warm blush and sometimes attractively dark pink, is ripe around the end of August and is sweet and juicy. The flavour is good, but is perhaps more pronounced after cooking. Growing with no other plums around, it would seem to be self fertile.

 

 

 

 

COE’S GOLDEN DROP Synonyms include: Bury Seedling, Coe's Imperial, Coe's Plum, Coe's Seedling, Fair's Golden, King of Plums, Silver Prune, Waterloo. A plum raised in the late 18th century by Jervaise Coe, a market gardener at Bury St Edmunds, and probably a cross between Greengage and the White Magnum Bonum plum. He raised a number of plums. It was named Golden Drop because of the oval shaped fruit, dull yellow, flecked with crimson. It is very sweet and juicy, and some say it is drunk rather than eaten. Fruit is ripe at the end of September. Pollination is complex. It is self sterile and incompatible with Jefferson Gage. Also, it won't pollinate Marjorie's Seedling though it can be pollinated by it. The need for good pollination, at a time in history when pollination was not fully understood, meant that it was seen as a poor cropper and was not grown commercially. Middle flowering.

 

COUNT ALTHANN’S GAGE Raised in Bohemia by Count Althann's gardener at some time between 1850 and 1860. It was introduced to Britain by Rivers before 1867. The large, crimson purple fruit has a good flavour and is juicy and sweet. It is ready for picking in late August. Trees are of medium upright growth, resistant to cold and self sterile. Middle flowering.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
             

 

DENNISTON’S SUPERB Raised by Isaac Denniston of Albany, in New York State, and introduced around 1835. Fruits are oval in shape, and green/yellow with pale green stripes. The flesh is transparent, sweet and rich tasting. It fruits regularly and well, even in shaded places. Pick in late August. Trees are vigorous, hardy and self fertile. Middle flowering.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

DITTISHAM PLOUGHMAN According to local legends, a German ship, with a cargo including plums, arrived at the River Dart, Devon, in the 19th century. One story has it that the ship was wrecked in a storm at sea and the flotsam was washed up at Dittisham (pronounced Ditsum by locals). Either the crew gave the prunes/plums to the villagers or a crate or two of fruit floated to Dittisham and was salvaged. The stones were planted by the villagers. An alternative account was that there was no wreck and that the prunes/plums were simply traded there and stones planted. The result was two different new plums – Dittisham Ploughman and Dittisham Damson. The German for plums is ‘Pflaumen’, easily corrupted to ‘Ploughman’. H.V. Taylor, in his book ‘The Plums of England’ 1949, recorded that this plum was ‘grown only in the parish of Dittisham in the valley of the River Dart’ and covering not more than 20 acres, with the number of growers at 20-30. Patrick Rooney, of the Beckley Community Orchard Group, an energetic body of people, not far from us, has confirmed in modern times, that it is now down to a handful of locations at Dittisham, where he lived until a couple of years ago. He brought suckers with him to Beckley, Oxford, though our stock came from Fulham Palace, who kindly donated cuttings from their tree which came, in turn, from East Malling Research Station. Most plums will root from cuttings and it was certainly the tradition with Dittisham Ploughman to root, rather than graft, new trees, such that when the original tree died, the suckers would yield genetically identical new trees when simply dug up. Taylor reported that the fruit was sold mainly in Dartmouth and Torquay, usually for jam and bottling. It is a rich and sweet dessert plum, but of ‘great quality and colour’ in jam. Ripe in mid August, medium sized and freestone. A rare variety that has been much valued locally but not known or much grown elsewhere.