A brace of apples

‘Ross Non Pareil’

Low pressure has brought welcome rain and less welcome wind. Apples are falling as fast as hopes for the UK (now the ludicrous Liz Truss has become the UK Prime Minister after being elected by 81 thousand people and a whopping 57% of the Tory vote – isn’t democracy great!)

Not all the apples are ready to pick yet but I will be trying the windfalls after a little storage to give them a chance to ripen. Two of our apples are rather special because one is local and another local to where I was born.

‘Ross Nonpareil’ sounds distinctly French and it does have its origin in France but it was actually first found, apparently as a seedling from a pip of a French apple, at Rosslaire in Wexford. An apple called ‘Non Pareil’ is one of the oldest of all apples we can still grow and some sources say it came from France in the 16th century. It is said that it grew best in the south of England and was less successful in the North. I can only assume that ‘Ross Nonpareil’ is so named because of its origin. ‘Nonpareil’ means ‘not the same’ so I assume that means it is distinctive.

It is not the sort if apple that people want these days. It is rather small and ugly with greenish yellow, russet skin. It is one to pick late and then it can be stored for a few months. It is grown for the unusual taste that is said to be sweet, with a distinct pear drop flavour and it can be used for cider though I will be eating mine. This is the first year I have had a crop and there is a fair number of apples. I actually like the look of russet skin because I tend to think it promises a rich flavour. In addition to being a late apple and a good one to store, it is also quite healthy and it has grown into a very handsome tree, being vigorous and quite upright with very twiggy, full growth. I think some thinning of these shoots is in order but there appears to be no sign of canker or scab which is unusual this season. It is said to bloom early so not suitable for cold areas but it has done well here so far so I would not regard it as fussy.

‘Ross Nonpareil’
‘Norfolk Royal Russet’

The next apple is one that I didn’t mean to grow. When you consider the amount of time and effort I expended deciding on what apples to grow and then obtaining them it would be reasonable to think that I am fuming to get the wrong tree, especially as you can’t really tell for several years. But instead of the attractive and juicy ‘Norfolk Royal’ I got the russet sport. And I am pleased about it. Strangely this not only has russet skin but has that sweet nutty taste associated with russet apples and is completely different to its more pretty parent.

It has proved to be a great tree and it fruited a bit last year and has a decent crop on the small tree this summer. Although ‘Norfolk Royal’ dates from 1905 and is a beautiful looking apple with a sweet, juicy flavour, this russet mutation is modern, appearing in 1983. The apples are reddish with gold russeting and I think they are very attractive in an understated way. The flesh is crisp, cream coloured and sweet with a pear-like taste. It is a little early to pick it but those that have fallen off have been eaten and they are delicious. I think it is far superior to the more common ‘Egremont Russet’ though I do not have the two to compare. ‘Egremont’ is a late apple so having both is probably not a problem.

Since I like russets I did plant an ‘Egremont Russet’ and it has grown well but is yet to produce a fruit.

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3 Comments on “A brace of apples”

  1. Paddy Tobin
    September 6, 2022 at 8:42 am #

    As I read, and told Mary what you were writing about, she said we must go ahead and get a few more apple trees – and said she would like to get Egremont Russet. There’s an apple tree producer in Co. Wexford so not too far from us.

    • thebikinggardener
      September 6, 2022 at 9:36 am #

      Of course there is English’s at Davidstown and I have also had fruit from Future Forests and both have been good

    September 6, 2022 at 11:31 am #


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