LJN Blog Posts

Cornish Apple Trees; The Pendragon Apple Tree

Following a recent article in the Telegraph, PENDRAGON my email and telephone has been largely out of action due to thousands of enquiries. This blog is by way of an apology to my clients and an explanation as to how such publicity can actually be counter productive. The article has had an adverse effect on my business as regular customers and clients can't get hold of me and I simply do not have the time or resources to cope with the ongoing demand.In a way to prevent further incidences like this, to introduce a further method of contacting myself and to allow for a forum for this subject and other Cornish Apple Tree questions. My clients can gleam ongoing developments by logging onto Cornish Apple Trees on FacebookMany of the enquiries have been from other growers keen to get their hands on scion or grafting materials to commence their own propagation. A flurry of interest from the USA, (with quite threatening requests for material), has left me tired out with trying to list all the different reasons as to why I can't supply to the USA, (disease spread, risk of price controlling, patenting - the US do not have a great track record in these regards etc) and I am also very cautious about supplying the trees elsewhere in the UK to individuals, due to factors regarding the spread of unsuitable cultivars into new areas, to those without sufficient experience in growing. (I personally do not send any grafted trees by mail, as I guarantee the trees. And unfortunately despite any disclaimer that could be drawn up, the reality is that there will be negative comeback if I was to go down this route).The Pendragon as with most other Cornish Apple Trees has been bred to survive a particular climate and soils. It is better supplied grafted onto M106 rootstock, due to these conditions. It is a very hardy tree, withstanding considerable amounts of salt laden winds and favours shallow slate formation soils. Outside of the Westcountry and Wales very careful decisions need to be made prior to planting this tree or any other Cornish Apple Tree variety. Specialist growers and Orchards with a good management regime outside of the zone will be able to inspect the tree regularly and will know the correct procedures to ensure it's ongoing health. Even within Cornwall, there are several constraints that have to be addressed prior to planting - Tree Planting in Cornwall.What is hopeful and good from this article and response is evidence of a renewed and invigorated interest into the traditional apple trees found in the UK, which as now proven, can be some of the best cultivars of Malus in the World. Common Ground have for many years been a weighty and worthwhile charity, (which was established in part by Roger Deakin) and with their efforts have kept this passion alive which is now flourishing.What is largely missing from this new interest is the budgeting for ongoing good management into the future for an individual tree to the plethora of proposed Orchards being established. The skills and knowledge linked to such management has been in decline for the last 50 years or so and as referred to in an earlier blog by CSL on Self Sufficiency much of the traditional management techniques cannot be 'simply' picked up by watching a related item on Gardeners World or the more highbrow TV programmes.Most importantly is that the tests carried out on the trees were far from exhaustive. The increased benefits were not vast and the reality is that in every other region of the UK and for that matter the World, there will be a cultivar worth reviving which may well beat the socks of the Pendragon. As such a message to growers, why not spend a little bit of time researching such things and generate PR directly for yourself.There are only 3 suppliers of this tree in the world, we all know one another and the amount of available trees was sold out before the article was even published, there will be no more available until at the earliest April next year. However there have suddenly appeared to be many more trees available from various places?!?. These will simply NOT be the Pendragon referred to, despite any claim made by the supplier.The good news is that I am propagating many more of these trees and I am in liaison with a nursery elsewhere in the UK to ensure there is a strong supply onto the best rootstock available. Please watch this space.By the way, the Pendragon in itself is not a particularly tasty apple and is usually grown for dual purpose. The one very noticeable fact about the tree is that it is RED. The leaves are stained slightly red and the roots, shoots, phloem, fruit skin, core and pips are all tinged red. The tree itself can be easily mistaken for an ornamental Crab Apple and it does like it a bit rough - too much compost etc is unfavourable. It does not look like a conventional apple tree at all - largely due to its longevity in circulation there is little known about its true provenance; but is likely to have been a seedling originally possibly from a crab apple.Shane KneeboneCornish Apple TreesCornwall Sustainable Landscapes
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