The Tree And The Apple
The old mother tree on the island grows in a slight recess on the side of the house. Salt-laden gales have "pruned" the tree so that it lies flat against the wall of this recess. Shoots that try to grow outwards from this recess are eventually killed by salt burn. The tree has grown up and over onto the roof where it has also been "pruned" flat by the wind.
The tree is located in the middle of the recess, indicating it was presumably planted there. The tree's age is unknown. Ernest (now in his 70s) the last person to be born on the island says the tree "has always been there". The house was built by Lord Newborough in the 1870s. As yet I have no knowledge as to the tree's origin or history.
I have recently heard the tree was called "Merlin's Apple". On the hillside above the house is a cave where king Arthur's Merlin is reputedly buried in a glass coffin.
So far I have been not able to get one of my children to crawl into the narrow cave mouth to verify this.
Shape of the tree
The shape of a free standing Bardsey tree is unknown. Some varieties of apple grow in a very upright manner, others have a more drooping growth habit.
Vigour of the tree
Some trees grow very vigourously while others grow weakly. The vigour of the Bardsey trees growth is unknown.
Bearing of fruit buds
The tree produces fruiting spurs very freely.
The Bardsey Island tree needs a pollination partner. It is in pollination group B (on the RHS A to D scale).
If you need a pollination partner,
The flowers are almost pure white. The tree flowers fairly early-flowering group B. Bardsey island itself is frost free, so there was some concern as to whether frost might be a problem. But this seems unlikely now, since one tree survived minus 20 in Austria.
The two apples examined by Joan Morgan were described as boldly striped in pink over cream, ribbed and crowned and distinctly scented of lemon.
The apples on the island tree are small and irregular. The fruit grown on the mainland are much more regular in shape and larger in size - about the size of the average supermarket apple.
For more pictures of Bardsey Apples, search for Bardsey Apple on Google Images
Very limited experience suggests that the fruit should be picked in
The fruit are excellent eaten straight from the tree.
The fruits store well until mid-November.
The apple cooks to a delicate light golden fluff. It needs no sugar.
Makes an excellent pinky straw coloured juice. I think mainland fruit will be bigger and juicier than fruit from the island.
The only small batch of cider made was of excellent flavour and surprisingly strong. Maybe this was first time lucky.
- Scab- the mother tree and fruit are scab free. There are no signs of Scab on my main land trees growing in a very scabby orchard in North Wales.
- Canker- the mother tree is Canker free despite many of the branches abrading the house wall and many of its shoots being broken by the wind.
- There are no signs of Canker on the wood of a Bardsey Apple tree grown in a very Cankered orchard in North Wales.
- Mildew- this isn't a disease common in North wales (it is too cold and wet). However in a walled garden at Penrhyn castle several young trees (e.g Charles Ross, Greensleeves and Egremont russet) have mildew. The Bardsey island tree remains clear.
- The tree on the island suffers badly from Tortrix moth - I don't know any other Bardsey tree with this problem. No other disease problems have yet been studied or observed.