The Tale of Three Trees – The Sequel


Trio of Newton Wonders
Trio of Newton Wonders

Last year I wrote about our Apple Trees in –  Season of Misty Mellow Fruitfulness or A Tale of Three Trees and as October has rolled round again with seemingly indecent haste I thought it time for an update on my Unidentified Tree Number Three.

Not long after writing my last post apples from Unidentified Tree Number Three were taken on a day trip to one of our local Applefests, where it was duly identified as Newton Wonder by the knowledgable folk who specialise in all things appley.

According to the RHS it is said to be a cross between Blenheim Orange and Dumelow’s Seedling and described as “A vigorous tree cropping well, with a larger crop every other year”. Although I’m not sure my tree can read as the sum total this year’s crop is a whole three apples*. Still I suppose that’s three more than in any of the other years with the notable exception of 2013.

Now you might think that with a name like Newton Wonder it might share some ancestry with that famous gravitational cultivar growing in Sir Isaac’s garden, if you did you would be wrong. The story is, I think, a much better one.

The tree was discovered by a Mr Samual Taylor of King’s Newton in Darbyshire. Not, as many apples are, discovered growing by the roadside. No, this one, according to folklore was found growing in the roof gutter of Hardinge Arms where Mr Taylor was the Landlord. I like to think he took pity on this little seedling growing against the odds and decided it deserved a second chance, planting it in the garden of the pub. It must have impressed as Messers Pearson & Co cultivated it and in 1887 it was awarded an RHS First Class Certificate. Not bad for an apple who started life in a gutter. 



*Happily for us we have a recipe that requires precisely three apples:

Bapple Cake
Bapple Cake


Bapple Cake

3 eggs

3 Newton Wonder – Apples

3oz Soft Light Brown Sugar

3oz Golden Caster Sugar

6oz Butter

6oz Self-Raising Flour

Mixed Spice


Demerara Sugar for a final sprinkle


Pre-heat the oven to gas mark 4 180°C,

Grate the apples into a bowl. Cream together the butter and sugar. Gradually add in the eggs. Fold in the flour, mixed spice and cinnamon Fold in the grated apples. Bake at 180 until done (30-40 mins depending on the size of your tin)

Sprinkle with Demerara Sugar if required and eat while still warm.



Space – The Final Frontier?

I was having a chat with a friend today (who’s also a designer). They were just back from Tatton and as I can’t go they were filling me in on the gardens. The conversation got round to spacing plants, mostly because today I’ve been wrestling with a Viburnum plicatum f. tomentosum and she’d been looking at show gardens.

I haven’t literally been wrestling with a shrub – well not yet! More wrestling with the problem of what to do with a semi mature shrub which is too big to successfully move and will eventually have a height and spread of anything up to 5m.

Why would that be a problem I hear you ask. Well, at a guess I’d say it was planted about ten years ago and still has some growing to do. That wouldn’t be a problem, if it hadn’t been planted about 30 cm from the edge of the path. So its either curtains or a severe hair cut.

The plant itself doesn’t seem to be bothered by its position and continues to grow happily and was most floriferous this spring. It is as shapely a shrub as you could wish for, just in completely the wrong place.

That’s where the conversation had got to, why would you plant a shrub that was ultimately going to get that big, right by a path?

If you knew it was going to get that big you wouldn’t – would you?

At that point we got back to show gardens and spacing. If for instance you didn’t know how big your plants would grow you might very well do this in your garden.

Vergette Ltd Garden Design Hereford and Worcester HC visit 2013

The problem is, as a Garden Designer I space my plants out. I fill the resulting gaps with annuals or biennials and bulbs to give it a full feeling with space to fill out. However as a Show Designer I am as guilty as the next in creating an unrealistic floral display.

Vergette Ltd Garden Design MalvernSpring Show 2012

So there’s the question, is space the final frontier for show gardens?