Friday, 22 July 2011

Herefordshire Year in the Orchard

Herefordshire Year in the Orchard is not only showcasing the importance of orchards in the county but has also unearthed what is believed to be the country’s last remaining Elton cherry.

The Elton cherry was developed by the county’s horticultural pioneer Thomas Andrew Knight back in the 1800s and it is now believed a descendant of this fruit still exists today at Elton Hall, near Ludlow.

James Hepworth, who lives at Elton Hall, came to the opening of the Thomas Andrew Knight exhibition at Hereford Cider Museum, and mentioned this cherry which he had been struggling to grow.

Fruit tree expert Nick Dunn contacted Mr Hepworth after the exhibition and was able to advise him on how best to prune the tree to stand the best chance of getting it to propagate.

Nick said: “I am really hoping it is an Elton cherry, a variety which I have not seen since the 1960s, but which I have been trying to reintroduce for some time.

"I have advised on some appropriate pruning on it so we can try grafting it and hopefully get it to fruit in time. We will also be able to get the tree DNA tested to find out if it is in fact an Elton cherry,” he added.

The exhibition also unearthed an uncoloured version of Knight’s seminal work the Pomona Herefordiensis which was designed so people could paint it themselves.

To build on this, Herefordshire Council’s heritage services is holding a Big Draw event during the October half-term at the Museum Resource and Learning Centre when people will be able to “Draw your own Pomona” as part of the national Big Draw event.

Katie Eastaugh, chair of the Orchard Topic Group, which is co-ordinating activities for the year-long celebration of the county’s orchards, said: “Knight is a little known hero from the county and it is wonderful that our activities have raised awareness of his importance and also helped us to have possibly rediscovered a long-lost variety of fruit tree as well as this wonderful paint-it-yourself Pomona.

“We are still hoping this increased awareness will see more people come forward with any items they have relating to Knight so we can get an even better picture of his life and work,” she added.

Anyone who has any items that may be of interest can contact Katie by emailing katie.eastaugh@btinternet.com

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