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choice of apple trees (East Kent)

Hi all,

I'm looking to buy and plant 3 apple trees before the start of winter and would appreciate some advice :-)

I'm thinking about training one as an espalier and two as cordons. I want the look that comes with espaliers, but also want some variety and don't have the space for more than one espalier, hence the mix. It will leave me with a bit of space to add a couple more cordons when I no-doubt find  another variety that I have to have :-) Does this sound reasonable?

I obviously need to choose (a) suitable rootstock(s). From what I've read, M26 seems to be the way to go for both espaliers and cordons on good soils. However, the ground in question is far from good -  a shallow topsoil on top of chalk and flint. With this in mind, I wonder whether I should go for MM106. How does this sound? Or is there a better option?  These will be our first apple trees and I'd love to get to a state of self-sufficency as quickly as possible, so if one rootstock results in a speedier plant-to-harvesting period, that could be the one for me :-)

Variety-wise, I guess I need to choose varieties that a) are spur bearers and b) grow well in the warm and dry climate of East Kent. Also, I'm a fan of crisp, sour apples. Oh, and I'd like to cover early, mind and late season. I'm not asking much am I! :-) Does anyone have any recommendations that might tick these boxes?

Primrose do an RHS Award Winners bundle of trees which consist of an Egremont Russet, a Discovery and a Blenheim Orange. The first 2 are on M26 and the latter is on MM106. It seems a well thought out bundle - taking away some of the complexity and decisions :-) -  and is fairly reasonable ar £40. However, I'm not sure if the rootstocks are right, and thus whether they would be a false economy.

Any input would be hugely appreciated! An apple tree is for life..... so I really want to make the right decision.


  • pansyfacepansyface PEAK DISTRICT DerbyshirePosts: 21,230



    Apophthegm -  a big word for a small thought.
  • RedwingRedwing SussexPosts: 1,309

    I think you are right to view apple  trees as an investment, get it right now and you will be rewarded. I don’t know enough to comment on rootstocks in your chalky situation but I can recommend Lord Lambourne as a variety. It is Cox like in flavour and crispness without the disease problems that Cox suffers from but does not keep as long. I would also suggest you dig in as much manure as you can over a largish area to improve your soil. I wouldn’t plant Discovery, masses of fruit but very early and completely non keeper. Apple events are held around this time of year where all sorts of varieties are an show with tastings but it may be getting late now. Good luck in your choices.

    Based in Sussex, I garden to encourage as many birds to my garden as possible.
  • steephillsteephill Posts: 2,619

    Talk to a fruit specialist rather than a general supplier. Ashridge Trees or Deacons nursery (Isle of Wight so might have similar soil conditions) for example. They will be able to supply a range of rootstocks, tree forms and ages which might save you a year or two before fruiting. You might also get better prices e.g. Deacons have sale on at the moment which would beat the price you have now.

  • Allotment BoyAllotment Boy North London Posts: 5,837

    I agree Keepers have a good reputation. As you are in East Kent have you been to Brogdale? they hold the national collections of Apples Pears & a whole host of other fruit trees. They will be able to give all the advice you need.

    AB Still learning

  • Hi all,

    Many thanks for sharing your wisdom! A couple of you recommended Keepers, who I contacted by telephone to ask for some guidance. They were extremely helpful and polite. They recommended the M26 rootstock for my cordons and MM106 for my espalier.  They suggested I should start to get a reasonable level of fruit production after 2 years on these rootstocks, which I'd be very happy with.

    I've also had a look at the Deacons website - thanks for the recommendation Steephill! As you suggest, the prices are currently super-competitive. As a result of this, my desire to try as many varieries as I can, and also to hedge my bets on which will prove to be my favourite variety/ies (rather than favour one of 3 varieties by growing it as an espalier) I'm thinking of buying 5 trees from the latter and for growing as cordons. However, since I still want to prune and nurture an espalier, I may also get another couple of trees (in the same pollination group) for my allotment plot :-) I just feel bad that I can't reward Keeper's for their excellent advice. 

    Ianr - many thanks for recommended Brogdale. I will definitely pay them a visit when I, no doubt, go and but my next apple tree. 

    Kind regards

  • RedwingRedwing SussexPosts: 1,309

    I had a look at the Deacons website and the prices are indeed good.  I was tempted myself..........but the postage is hefty. Is Keeers in Kent? Could you collect the trees? Would be nice to support them as they have given you good advice. Let us know which varieties you choose.

    Based in Sussex, I garden to encourage as many birds to my garden as possible.
  • Neil75Neil75 Posts: 12

    Hi redwing, 

    Deacons are charging £15 postage for smaller trees.  This is quite steep,  but since 1 year old trees on m26 stock are less than £7, it gets diluted pretty quickly. 

    Keepers is about an hours drive away from us.  I'm thinking of paying it a visit. 

    Decisions,  decisions :-)   I will keep you posted. 

    Kind regards. 

  • Neil75Neil75 Posts: 12

    Hi all, 

    Well,  after thinking long and hard,  I decided to purchase 5 trees for training as cordons in my garden from the apparently super reasonable Deacons.  I also purchased another tree for training as an espalier on my allotment  (nearby to which are compatible apple trees).  I realise I owe Keepers a good turn,  and plan to purchase my next tree/s from them.  I guess i just wanted to establish my stock. 

    The trees I bought are:


    Late orange



    Egremont russet

    Rosemary russett - for espalier

    I'm now waiting for some sort of update from deacons about expected delivery.  I've tried contacting them several times,  but no one seems to man the  phone and as yet an email goes unanswered.  Kalmar,  perhaps!  :-/ hoping for an update soon :-) 

    Kind regards 

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