By Fergus Walker
To kick off the Silver Bough heritage apple planting extravaganza we headed for Galloway. Auchencairn Link Allotments and Auchencairn Primary, Galloway, to be precise. Despite the February drizzle we were not to be deterred.
The mission today was to re-unite the Galloway Pippin with Galloway. It’s an old cooking apple from Wigtown, with a good flavour and it’s easy to grow. It’s the perfect choice for our first school. Our sources tell us: “The Galloway Pippin is a very old yellow/green apple originating in the area around Wigtown in south-west Scotland. Although considered a dual-purpose variety, in practice it is far better for culinary use than for eating fresh.
The Galloway area of south-west Scotland is notable for its mild wet climate with relatively low light levels – quite a tough environment for the production of good quality apples. Galloway Pippin is therefore a useful variety for anyone with a similar climate as it is hardy and productive.”
But accompanying each tree we are also bringing along some chums. This pippin has the following planted alongside it to offer variety, good pollination and a mix of fruiting times: Siddington Russet (eater), Tam Montgomery (eater) , Lemon Queen (eater), Maggie Sinclair (dual), Clydeside (cooker) and Thorle Pippin (another eater).
First we discussed apple lore with Mrs Mash, our Appletastic story-telling cook, and designed a ceremony to guarantee a fruitful crop from our trees.
Then we decided on a poem to mark the occasion …
In “Apples in Scotland,” by John Butterworth, (Langford Press) he writes of The Galloway Pippin: “Ancient long-keeping cooker from Wigtown, known locally as ‘Croft an Righ’ (garden of the King).
“Galloway Pippin’ is a late cooker, eaten by some, which has been associated with the area around Wigtown in Galloway ‘since time immemorial.’ The local name ‘Croft-an-Righ, is the same as the same name given by the Romans to the locality, and means ‘garden of the king’.
Special thanks to Phoebe Marshall for helping make this happen and to Andrew Lear for advice and stock – and to all the children for their efforts (!). We’ll revisit each orchard through the year, but for now – this was the Silver Bough project underway …