Specialist tree stock enjoys an increase in popularity

Exhibitors at this week's RHS Hampton Court Palace Flower Show have reported increasing interest in more specialist UK produce and tree stock.

Chris Williams, a nursery manager for Grow at Brogdale, the marketing arm of the National Fruit Collection site, told Grower: "Cider is definitely on the up. We started selling a cider-making tree collection, which did well, and commercial people are growing those now too. There is also a lot of interest in community orchards, for cider, juice or fruit.

"We sell more heritage than common varieties because this is often a condition of funding. We can propagate pretty much anything to meet those requirements."

However, he added: "We can't propagate some plum varieties because we have a problem with sharka disease (plum pox virus), which we are working to eradicate."

Blackmoor Nurseries, the Hampshire fruit tree and plant supplier that also grows its own fruit for sale, has just planted a large cherry orchard under cover, according to nursery manager Jon Munday. "In the UK there isn't enough hectarage of cherries to supply the market," he explained. "But you need to keep the rain off to stop them splitting."

Colin Boswell, owner of Isle of Wight's Garlic Farm, said: "People are becoming increasingly excited about garlic and its provenance."

The company grows several hundred garlic varieties on more than 30ha, selling bulbs through independent retailers as well as supplying the home gardening market. It presented new varieties including Avignon White and Carcassonne White at this year's show.

Boswell added: "Garlic is okay growing in this damp weather, but for harvesting, which we've just started, we want sun."

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