Country diary: It’s picking season at this orchard of rarities – Rights History
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Country diary: It’s picking season at this orchard of rarities

St Dominic, Tamar Valley: Forty years ago, some of these local cherry, apple and pear varieties were nearing extinction. Now we are reaping the harvest

The birchenhayes and uprights ripen first, then come the burcombes with clusters of sweet black cherries on short stems – fiddly to pick but delicious, with a tangy sweet flavour; fice is followed by the bullions, maturing fast in the unusual warmth, shiny fruits darkening among the glossy leaves.

This five-acre orchard of once popular local varieties of cherries, apples and pears has been developed over the last 40 years – grafted, pruned, tended and researched – by my brother-in-law and sister, James and Mary. It includes 150 tall cherry trees grafted on to wild cherry rootstock (which becomes the trunk of the new tree). The topmost fruit is now only reachable by birds.

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