Tasmania is also known as the "Apple Isle" because at one time it was one of the biggest apple producers of the world. Apples love our climate and there are many trees dotting the highways and country roads. Craig reckons he is responsible for a good proportion of these wild sown trees from the many cores he has tossed road side travelling in the bush. When he took gangs of workers out planting trees, it was a real highlight for the back-packers to be able to stop on the way home from work, pile out of the troopy and pick new seasons apples from road side trees. The varieties were always different and it was a boon to their meagre living.
Wychwood Gardens played host to Woodbridge Fruit Trees for a day of heritage apple tasting and the opportunity to pre-order varieties for winter bare root stock.
Here are some of my picks....
St Edmunds Pippin ripening February to March
Huonville Crab ripens April to May. Smallish but prolific fruit. Good for cooking too I suspect.
Cornish Aromatic ripens May-June. An intriguing flavour of vague "spice". A good eating apple.
Geeveston Fanny ripens March-April. Not too sweet not too sharp. They tell a good story about it here
Gaol Farm 6 was very similar to the Geeveston Fanny I thought and also a good eating apple.
The Burwood! What a massive apple! Commonly grows up to 700g and you would think with that size there would be compromise on flavour and texture. Not so! Fabulously crisp and refreshing with a lovely flavour. Suitable for espalier too. That's Craig's big hand there in the picture to give you an idea of size.
What about this massive one!
The colour of these Ribston Pippin which ripens Feb-March. Rich autumnal orange, gold and umbre. A very good eating apple.
The apple press was also a great attraction not just for people but also for the European Wasps looking for sweet pickings. In fact in many of the photos above it is a bit like "Where's Wally" because there is a wasp hidden in nearly every photo!
I certainly learnt a lot and came away really keen for some more apple trees round the place.
Don't you think this man looks the quintessential Tasmanian Apple Man? Certainly knew his stuff.
I certainly urge you to consider the benefits of heritage apples on dwarf root stock as these are easily espaliered (easier than it looks) around the average suburban home garden.
I also urge you to keep your eyes peeled for apples on the by-ways and take a moment to pick some free produce ready in season now, but leave some for the birds too!