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When is an orange an apple?

by Alice Hunt, garden apprentice

One of the many things I’ve enjoyed since starting my apprenticeship at Fulham Palace two months ago has been learning about the fascinating variety of apple trees we have here in the walled garden. One of the largest and oldest apple trees we have is the Blenheim Orange. We have three of these trees, the largest of which forms the centrepiece of the vegetable garden.

The garden team were pretty confident that the trees were Blenheim Orange but had this confirmed after taking one of the fruits to RHS Wisley last year for identification. Blenheim Orange is on old cultivar dating from the 18th century. It was first found in Woodstock, Oxford and named for nearby Blenheim palace. It’s a very vigorous tree having a maximum height and spread of 8 metres. For this reason, it is an apple that’s not seen very commonly so it’s great to have it here as part of the collection at Fulham Palace.

This year the Blenheim Oranges have had a huge crop and the trees have been absolutely laden with fruit which we’ve been battling against the parakeets and squirrels to hang on to. The fruit has been eaten by parakeets whilst still on the tree so we’ve been harvesting as much as possible (putting some into storage and selling the rest of the fruit on our barrow). The fruit is very versatile being suitable for both eating and cooking. It’s great for apple pies and has a delicious sweet nutty flavour that makes it go really well with cheese too.

Come along to the Apple Day Celebration at Fulham Palace on Sunday 8th October 2017 for an opportunity to taste and to buy Blenheim Orange along with the many other varieties of apple grown here.

blenheim orange apple tree in the walled garden