Saving the Bramley apple

Batsford Arboretum, long known for its tree preservation role, is helping to safeguard a piece of British culinary history – the Bramley apple.

The arboretum near Moreton-in-Marsh has just been given a Bramley tree, propagated from the original, which is dying from an incurable fungal infection.

The Bramley was sown in Southwell Nottinghamshire in 1809 and was growing in the garden of Matthew Bramley when he agreed to sell cuttings from it to nurseryman Henry Merryweather in 1856 with the apples sold under the Bramley name.

bramley apple
Matthew Hall with the Bramley apple tree

Scientists from Nottingham University, who have been studying the tree for some years, have used grafts to create clones to preserve the iconic cooking apple for future generations.

Batsford has been given one of these trees thanks to Nick Dunn, a trustee of the arboretum and owner of tree firm Frank P. Matthews, based in Tenbury Wells. Mr Dunn had a piece of graft wood and when he realised the original tree was under threat, he donated one of the clones he had raised.

Matthew Hall, head gardener at Batsford, which is run by the Batsford Trust charity, was delighted with the latest addition to the collection.

“It’s really important that such an iconic tree – such as the Bramley original – is planted by arboretums and gardens like us, as well as by the general public, to ensure the tree’s future is secured for many years to come,” he said.

He will be choosing a suitable location in the 60-acre arboretum and planting the Bramley apple in the autumn.

Protecting endangered trees

It’s not the first time that Batsford, which was first established in the late 1800s by Algernon Bertram Freeman-Mitford, has been involved in tree preservation.

It is part of the International Conifer Conservation Project, run by Edinburgh’s Royal Botanic Garden, which safeguards trees that under threat in their native countries.

Several endangered species, including monkey puzzles from Chile and the golden Vietnamese cyprus, are grown at the arboretum to safeguard them.

For more information about Batsford Arboretum, visit www.batsarb.co.uk

Want to know more about Batsford? Read my feature on the arboretum here

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