A random search for heritage apple trees suitable for growing in the North West of England -conducted recently by Lytham in Bloom - has thrown up a completely unexpected and thrilling result.
One heritage variety listed as being suitable for cultivation in the North West actually turned out to have been first registered in our home town of Lytham!
Raised by Mrs. Helen Lloyd in 1949, the variety “Harvest Festival “eventually came to prominence when Mrs Lloyd became Mayoress in 1963/4.
Described as a 'Medium culinary variety with soft flesh, quite sharp, large size and keeping its shape when cooked', Harvest Festival was otherwise a fairly unremarkable apple with several other varieties listed as having a better flavour.
Never the less, this apple was from Lytham and forgiving all its shortcomings, Lytham in Bloom contacted the National Fruit Collection at Brogdale in Kent to make further enquiries. Although they had no actual tree available, they had suitable root stocks onto which Harvest Festival could be grafted. Lytham in Bloom ordered two trees as a test and roughly 12 months later we received the message that they were ready for despatch.
The trees are still small whips, but as the photograph indicates, they look very healthy. Lytham in Bloom intend to grow on the trees for at least a further twelve months before they are planted out in their ancestral home once more. Not many small towns can claim an apple tree as their own and Lytham in Bloom intend to make the most of this lucky find.
We are indebted to Brogdale for their work in preserving all native fruit tree varieties. Should anybody find themselves near Faversham in Kent, Brogdale is well worth a visit. Their national collection houses literally hundreds of different varieties of cherry, greengage, plum, pear, quince and apple. It can rightly be described as a national treasure.
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