Success of Inverness Apple Day 2015 - further Highland connections

photo of display

The Inverness  Apple Day 2015 held on Saturday (24 October) at Inverness Botanics was a great success with 170 people attending this special event organised by The Highland Council. The weather was kind and after overnight rain, the sun came out and it was dry all afternoon. Both guest apple experts, Andrew Lear and John Hancox, were kept busy identifying the apples that were brought along. Two unusual varieties brought in were Scrog, a very small apple that provides body to cider, and White Juneating, a variety that is ready to harvest in July. 

The manually operated apple juice press was a great centre of attention and expended effort. The apples took a lot of preparing and processing but once the press was fully wound down, the apple juice it provided was a real treat. Thanks to all those who provided apples for juicing. ROWAN (Ross-shire Waste Action Network) were promoting composting at the event and we are pleased to say that all the crushed apples went to the compost heap in the Botanic Gardens or to some hungry pigs at a croft near Knockfarrel. Russel from ROWAN took some videos of Pin the Maggot on the Apple that can be seen on their Facebook page. This old favourite became very competitive with one of the rangers being beaten by a 6-year old who pinned the maggot directly on the hole in the apple. The Countryside Rangers did a power of work and laid on lots of activities for all ages to keep everyone entertained.

The Apple Map now has 153 locations all over Highland. In Torbrex there is a field with 102 different varieties, this is by far the most diverse orchard we have in the Highlands. It will be interesting to see how the different varieties fare. The owner may look into cider production in the future and this was something a few people mentioned at the event. One couple who had just moved to Brora from Brittany had an award winning cider orchard there and are looking to create a small one in their new home.

At the last apple day in 2011 we sought out old Coul Blush apple trees and did manage to find one in Contin. This year’s interesting find was an apple called the Hector MacDonald. This cooking apple came from the orchard at Fyvie Castle, along with several other old Scottish varieties. The NTS kindly gave us some of their fruit to display at the event. Looking in one of Andrew Lear’s apple books we found out that it was indeed named after Major-General Sir Hector MacDonald, “Fighting Mac”. It was first shown in 1904, the year after Sir Hector’s death and won a Royal Horticultural Society award. The man who raised this apple was called Charles Ross, a gardener at Welford Park in Berkshire. According to book we consulted, he was a childhood friend of Sir Hector and created this variety in his honour. It just goes to show that often there are fascinating stories behind the apples.

The next apple day will run in three of four years time but before then a pruning workshop is being planned. John Hancox of the charity Commonwealth Orchard  has offered to run this and if you are interested in attending this event then please do get in touch with him and once we know the numbers we can organise a date and location that suits those attending. John is also on the lookout for any spare apples people have in their gardens as he would like to use them to produce a Highland Cider.  Contact John on john@commonwealthorchard.com

26 Oct 2015
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