Tom theAppleMan

Organic Fruit Tree Nursery


Fame at last! I’ve graced the pages of The English Garden Magazine, with a feature in which my commitment to agroecological practices and the stewarding of heritage varieties took centre stage.

The article managed to capture both my ethos as an organic grower, and the power of agroecosystems as productive, biodiverse landscapes which offer rewarding work for humans, and a space for nature.  It was great to be approached for the feature, it’s not just a testament to the hard work that goes into maintaining the site, but also an affirmation of the growing interest in agroecological approaches within the gardening community.

There’s a sense of growing excitement and a movement around agroecology and agroforestry which is great to see. Towards the end of last year, I was approached by the Land Workers Alliance to be one of their agrobiodiversity champions. Agrobiodiversity refers to the variety and variability of plants, animals, and microorganisms that are essential for food and agriculture. The LWA recognizes the importance of agrobiodiversity for food security, resilience, and sustainability, and as such, prioritizes its conservation and promotion through various initiatives, including seed sovereignty, heritage breeds/varieties and agroforestry practices, to name but a few areas of interest!

Through this focus on agrobiodiversity, the LWA aims to build resilient and sustainable food systems that are better equipped to address the challenges of climate change, biodiversity loss, and food insecurity. It’s an honour to have been asked to be one of their champions, and I’m excited to see where the role leads… You can read more about this project here.

St. Teilo’s day celebrations

More recently, it was great fun to be part of the St Teilo’s day learning and celebrations earlier this month with Horticulture Wales at Northrup college in Flintshire. I ran a grafting and pruning session, sharing skills for successful fruit tree propagation, and all attendees were able to take home a grafted Bardsey apple.

St. Teilo is a revered figure in Welsh Christian history and folklore, often associated with the cultivation of apples and orchards. His feast day, celebrated on February 9th, holds significant cultural and historical importance in Wales, particularly among agricultural communities and those involved in horticulture. In these communities, St. Teilo is honoured as the patron saint of orchards, particularly apple orchards, symbolizing fertility, abundance, and the blessings of the land. According to folklore, St. Teilo blessed the orchards of Llandaff, where he was born, ensuring an abundant harvest of apples. He was believed to protect orchards from blight, pests, and other calamities, making him a beloved figure among farmers and fruit growers. As a result, St. Teilo came to be venerated as the patron saint of apples, with his feast day celebrated as a time of thanksgiving and prayer for a successful harvest.

His feast day marks the beginning of the apple-growing season in Wales, and despite the passage of time, the celebration of St. Teilo’s Day remains an integral part of Welsh cultural heritage, serving as a reminder of the connection between agriculture, spirituality and the rhythms of the natural world.


Tree lifting season almost at a close

Speaking of agrobiodiversity, there’s no shortage of that in the nursery! It’s been a wet and muddy tree lifting season so far, but it’s rewarding to see our hard work and attention paying off in the form of strong, healthy and beautiful 1 year trees making their way to their new homes, with a large order travelling as far as the Isle of Mann – I think those are the first of our trees to have taken a ferry anywhere… We have some availability left across a range of varieties – some of my favourites are still up for grabs, so if you’re thinking about placing an order, there’s still a bit of time left before the end of the winter season. To help you choose, I’ve featured three of my particular favourites below.

Ashmead’s kernel

Amidst the rolling hills of Gloucestershire lies a hidden gem from centuries past – Ashmead’s Kernel. This rare and venerable variety of apple traces its roots back to the 1700s, embodying a legacy of resilience and flavour that has endured the test of time. Named after its discoverer, Dr. Ashmead, this apple variety is renowned for its exquisite balance of sweetness and acidity, its distinctive russeted skin, and its unrivalled complexity of flavour, often described as reminiscent of pear drops. This is a disease resistant variety, often used in sweeter ciders, and a must have in every orchard.

Gascoyne’s Scarlett

Tracing its roots back to England in the 1870s, it was first discovered by Jervaise Busby in Broughton, Norfolk, and later introduced by the Gascoyne family, which is where it derived its name. This apple variety gained popularity in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, appreciated for its unique flavour and beautiful appearance.

Gascoyne’s Scarlett offers a delightful combination of sweet and tart flavours, making it suitable for both fresh eating and culinary purposes. It’s visually striking, with its deep red skin overlaid with bright crimson stripes. Its shape is typically round or slightly conical, and its skin may have a slight waxy bloom. The flesh of the apple is creamy white, providing a beautiful contrast to its vibrant exterior. A versatile option, this apple can be used fresh as a delicious ‘eater’, in cooking and to add depth and complexity to cider. Aside from all that, it’ll look beautiful in an orchard or garden.


Beyond the obvious origins hinted at by its name, the exact heritage of the Hertford cherry are not precisely documented, though it has been cultivated in England for centuries. It likely emerged as a result of selective breeding and cultivation practices by local growers aiming to develop cherries with desirable traits such as flavour, size, and productivity.

Renowned for its excellent flavour and productivity, Hertford cherry trees are typically large in size, with a deep red to almost black skin when fully ripe. The flesh is juicy, sweet, and flavourful, making it a favourite among cherry enthusiasts. Like many sweet cherry varieties, Hertford cherries require cross-pollination from compatible varieties to set fruit successfully. Planting another compatible cherry variety nearby can aid in pollination and improve fruit set. Cherries typically ripen in the mid to late summer months, depending on local climate conditions. With proper care and attention to its growth requirements, you can enjoy a bountiful harvest of juicy, flavourful cherries each summer.

This is just a handful of what’s still available – check out our shop to secure a last minute order, before they’re all gone…

Summer Pruning course

As the days slowly lengthen, it’s time for us to look forward (in hope!) to rejuvenation and growth in our orchards.

I’m now taking bookings for my Summer Pruning Course, designed to equip you with the skills and knowledge to nurture your fruit trees to their fullest potential. Whether you’re a novice enthusiast or a seasoned gardener, our courses are tailored to accommodate all skill levels, providing hands-on experience and invaluable insights into the intricacies of fruit tree care.

Through practical demonstrations and guided hands-on learning, you’ll gain the confidence and skills needed to ensure bountiful harvests for years to come.

The pruning course will take place on Friday 12th July – details to follow soon on the website and across social media.

There are also plans afoot for a Summer Makers Market later on in the year, so watch this space…

First photo is credited to The English Garden Magazine – with thanks.