BOOKS

The opinions expressed on this page are my own.


I have not offered comprehensive or technical appraisals of the books in question, or even read every word,  
just expressed my feelings about apple and cider books I enjoyed and which might be helpful to readers of this
site. I haven't taken money or favours from authors or publishers although I have met Liz Copas, Julian
Temperly and Harry Baker and corresponded with Michael Phillips. We have an extensive collection of old
apple books, some very rare, collected from various second hand bookshops throughout England and Wales
over two decades  from antiquarian book dealers.  Many books on fruit are of no great distinctiveness or value
and I haven't cluttered the site with reviews of every book in my library. ISBNs are given where they exist.


Vigo and Eco-logic books are good sources of modern apple and cider books, the supply in second
hand book stores seems to have dried up where the older books are concerned, but quality used book stores
in country towns are often worth a prowl, and specialist book dealers can look out things for you, at a price. I
add books to the list occasionally.  The dates on my notes are inconsistent, as this page has been added to at
different times. If there are any errors here, please forgive me, mistakes happen and details change. I will of
course correct anything wrong if alerted.


Book titles in order, please scroll down the page to find them, I may add page links later if i have an hour with
nothing better to do


The English Apple
Apples, a Field Guide
The Fruit Garden Displayed
Tree Fruit Growing
The Anatomy of dessert
Establishing a Fruit Garden
The Apple Grower
The Book Of Apples
The Fruit Expert
The Good Fruit Guide
The Good Cider Guide
Common Ground Book of Orchards
A Somerset Pomona
Sweet and hard cider
Cider-the Forgotten Miracle
Cider and Juice apples: growing and processing
Perry Pears
The Grafter's Handbook
Not on The Label
Grow your Own Fruit (Carol Klein and RHS)


We both thoroughly enjoy "The English Apple" by Rosanne Sanders. I persuaded my mother in law
(thanks Mum) to buy this for me for my birthday, it was obtained at Scott's nursery
(which tragically closed
down in September 2009)
Merriot, Somerset, although when we were there last autumn (2006) they didn't
have any, and I couldn't find a copy at Hay on Wye when I was there in May 2007, although I looked in half a
dozen bookshops. I suspect it may not be easy to find a copy, but worth it if you can. This is a "coffee table"
book in the sense that anyone even if not interested in apples can pick it up and enjoy it. After the
introduction, the body of the book consists of watercolours by Ms Sanders of over 100 apples with
accompanying historical and other information. This is a handy, although not infallible or comprehensive, book
for identifying varieties, essentially a celebration of the apple. The watercolours are stunningly beautiful, I
expect some copies of this marvellous book were cannibalised to frame as prints. There is also a brief but
comprehensive section on growing apples by
Harry Baker of the RHS, the grand old man of English
Apples.  It cost £19.95 in 1988. We used to take this book to most of our sales for it's sheer beauty and to help
customers identify the apples they remember from the gardens of their youth, but it's physically wearing out so
we don't tend to so much.



Apples, a Field Guide by Michael Clark. Whittet books in association with Brogdale Horticultural
Trust, ISBM1-873580-57-6. Hardback, 175 pages. This is the newest apple book in my collection, obtained
from Landsman bookshop at last year's Bath and West show (I was there for the cider and believe me, I got
some!). Well worth the £20 I paid, the bulk of the book is descriptions of apples, one per page for most of the
book, 2 per page for some of the newer up-and-coming varieties like Alkmene, Braeburn, Elstar, Red Falstaff,
Winter Gem, Princess and Scrumptious) around 150 varieties featured. Each apple is colour photographed on
the tree and described in around 160 words e.g. history, season, flavour, good and bad points. There is a box
at the top of each page with dessert or cooking, months ready, shape, flowering group and whether tip of spur
bearer. An innovation I haven't seen before involves a colour coded outline of each apple (e.g. round, flat,
conical, oblong), and Julia (who does more markets and apple talks than me) has found this helpful trying to
identify customers' apples which they bring to us to try to name for them. The book's very handy for that, and
as a companion to Rosanne Saunders 'The English Apple' it would help you to identify many common apples.
Not as pretty as 'The English Apple' but more practical. I sometimes think a good watercolour painting can
show the apple's typical features better than a photograph, nice to have both. But then, I am the apple maniac
and I am happy to have spent the equivalent of a premier league football club's season ticket on my apple
library.




When I am evaluating a book on apples I always like to look up the fruits I know have particular problems and
see if the writer has been honest about them. For example Spartan is very prone to canker, Miller's Seedling to
biennialism, Idared is tasteless, Egremont Russet can get bitter pit. Clark mentions the first 3 faults but not the
last. (maybe he has better conditions for Egremont-we have to foliar feed with calcium/liquid seaweed each
year to minimise bitter pit in Egremont on our light sandy soil) Again, (see comments on 'The Fruit Expert) I
would rather read an author who has written from his own experience and states his opinion openly than
something unduly bland that has probably been copied from other 'standard' books (a great curse of all
writing, not least of fruit). There are chapters on the origin and value of the old apple varieties, a
county-by-county list of types so you can identify something that was raised where you live, and a list of names
of 1,288 apples varieties. I'm not sure what the point is of just putting a long list of names without any
information, this tells you that there are apples with names like Pinner Seedling, Rank Thorn, Striped Brandy
and Sharleston Pippin (and 1,284 others) but no information beyond the name, but its only 5 pages in a really,
really useful book. For that you will have to obtain Morgan and Richards' 'The Book of Apples', also published
in association with Brogdale and reviewed elsewhere on this page.



The section on propagation is admirable, telling you with pictures how to chip bud and whip-and-tongue graft
(although having tried all styles I prefer and recommend saddle grafting) and you will be able to graft your own
trees with this advice and a very sharp knife ( I recommend a small stainless steel Opinel number 6) plus a bit
of polythene cut from a freezer bag. There is also brief and to the point information and illustrations of
planting, pruning and pests, and a useful number of references and contacts. The bulk of the book however is
the colour photos of apples and their descriptions. Well worthy of adding to any apple growers library, and
probably the single most useful book I have come across to help you identify apples
from 'the old tree in my garden'. If you want to make a start with heritage apples, this is
probably the best book of those which are currently in print.


The most generally useful and authoritative book of instruction about fruit growing in general, including apples,
must be
"The Fruit Garden Displayed"by the Royal Horticultural Society, which was in print for
half a century but now sadly is not. We have the 1956 and the 1991 editions. With this book you can grow any
fruit that can be grown in Britain in the open or under glass-grapes, blackcurrants, pears, plums, apples,
melons and more. It is easy and attractive to use, adequately illustrated, gives the right amount of detail, and
does not assume a lot of previous knowledge. Instruction on grafting is given, essential if you want to create a
many-variety tree or change your apple tree from one you don't like to one you do (quicker than cutting down
and replanting). If you only get one book of instruction about fruit growing, this is the one to go for, if you can
find one second hand or from your library-or pester the RHS to bring it back into print!!!
(since writing this, I
have in fact tried to do just that, but the RHS are not interested. I think this is a great shame)
 Royal
Horticultural Society, ISBN 0-304-34016-2



Tree Fruit Growing by Raymond Bush. Penguin paperback, 1943. There are 3 books in this series,
the first is all about apples. Mr Bush wrote in a very down to earth style and very practically, although the book
is clearly dated-for example, they used lead arsenic spray then before DDT came in! Many of his trenchant
observations still ring true, for example (he worked as a consultant as well as growing his own orchards) he
mentioned that often when he was called to an orchard whose cropping had fallen, his advice was to cut down
every other tree. If the horrified grower conceded, the orchard was cropping heavier and better in 2 years.
People  OFTEN plant trees far too close together, thinking this will give more fruit but all it does is deprive fruit
buds of light and air so the apples are small and don't colour up so well. (cordons are of course a special case
and an exception to this, but they must be managed carefully, Mr Bush explains how) There is an awful lot of
instruction for such a small book and I have proven the truth of a lot of what I followed from it-for example not
putting trees too close together, and his illustrated advice on grafting and pruning.



It is a humorous and humane book, including pictures of mistakes like a badly pruned Bramley in a workhouse
garden 'the best place for it!' and a tree killed by a neglected tie which had cut into the bark. There are some
lovely old black and white pictures including one of the author's son under a tree of Peasgood's Nonesuch,
eating a cooking apple nearly as big as his head. Long out of print, it is a book that turns up now and then in
Oxfam shops and the like. I saw a few in Hay on Wye in May 2007. Worth getting for the period details as well
as the tips. Raymond Bush also wrote 2 other books which I have, "Frost and the Fruit Grower" and "A Fruit
Grower's Diary", I can highly recommend especially the diary if you are lucky enough to find a copy.


Some of the books that inspired us the most are now pretty much unobtainable. One such is
"The Anatomy
of dessert" by Edward Bunyard.
Published in 1927 and reprinted in 1933 with a section on wine, this is
an appreciation of the manifold flavours of the English apple as grown then, it reads like a wine taster's notes
and reminds us there is SO much more to apples than sugar and crunch.. The author writes about his feelings,
opinions and memories about the flavours of different fruits. Quotes from this book appear in many articles
about the forgotten flavours of the apples our great grandfathers used to know. I searched for a copy of this
book for years before finally tracking down (by chance) a limited first edition in an antiquarian bookshop in
Maidstone, Kent, near where the Bunyards lived and worked. A month later, another copy turned up from one
of the book men I had looking for me! A few quotes.... In fact, this is now out in paperpack and I got one from
Amazon. I also got a new book about the life of Edward Bunyard,
'The Downright Epicure' but the
discovery that he had shot himself in his London club, apparently depressed by the effect of the recently
declared Hitler war on his business and  his ability to travel Europe in search of good food and wine saddened
me so much I didn't read much of it. But his classically informed upper class prose is still worth reading, and if
his end was most regrettable, he still wrote well.

In praise of the apple, Bunyard wrote....
"What fruit can compare with the apple for its extended season,
lasting from August to June, keeping alive for us in winter, in its sun-stained flush and rustic russet,
the memory of golden autumnal days? Through all the seven ages of man it finds a welcome, and
we now learn that not only does it keep the doctor from our house but ourselves from the dentist. Is
there any other edible which is at once an insurance, a pleasure, and an economy? "....
..On
ripeness..
...."The Reinettes, such as Blenheim Orange, Cox's Orange, Orleans Reinette, and most
of the russets, have their vintage years, of which 1921 will remain long in the memory. All varieties,
too, have their optimum moment of aroma and also of acidity. A Cox's in October is a little too acid,
but as the acid gradually fails, the aromatic ethers develop, and the end of November and early
December sees them at their height. It then slowly declines, very slowly if properly stored, and even
in May, after a sunny summer, it is still worthy."  

Although this is one of the most quoted books on the apple, apples only comprise one chapter, Bunyard writes
about other fruits. Here he waxes lyrical about chestnuts...
"Chestnuts are most happily met with before
dessert, in my opinion, but who can quite resist them roasted in the shell around the school-room
fire, or in those ambulatory stoves which winter sometimes brings forth in London and Paris?.....I
remember walking down the Rue de la Paix..."  


And on Pears, ...."Can we omit Beurre Hardy, so solid and masculine in its coat of russet and red,
with its rosewater perfume and pink-tinged flesh, or Fondante d'Autonne, more like an apple than a
pear in form-but its russet skin conceals a melting flesh and an aromatic fragrance which place it
quite in the first rank."


If I had the time and energy I'd write the whole apple and pear sections of this book out on the web for its
olde-worde quaintness and dated upper-class charm, but the thing that interests me most is the fact
demonstrated in every paragraph that people
(OK, well off people in the Home Counties) in the 1920s enjoyed
a range of English-grown seasonal fruit that we can only dream of today. Variety, seasonality, locality and the
culture of fine fruit correctly ripened and served-all gone. OK, Bunyard was wealthy, but even the super-rich
can't get these fruits today  unless they grow them themselves. If Roman Abramovitch or some other billionaire
called his servant, waved a bag of fifty pound notes at him and sent him out into the London air with a
shopping list for Ribston Pippins, Pitmaston Pineapple, Orleans Reinette etc, even in their proper season, he
probably couldn't get them even if he offered £50 a kilo. Rare old books like this have inspired us to believe
that such things could be again. By the way, my 'spare' copy of Bunyard isn't for sale, Michael Phillips has it in
New Hampshire. But as I said, its out in a rather cheap quality paperback now , 0-8129-7157-4 ISBN.


"Establishing a Fruit Garden" by Geoffrey F. Bell, published by the Garden Book Club in 1964
pops up occasionally in second hand bookshops and rummage sales, and is well worth reading. Its a story by
a school head teacher who decided to retire while he was still enjoying the job and establish a fruit farm of
about 6 acres (not so different from us) and how he approached the problems of turning a field into an orchard
without an agricultural background, and then marketing the apples and other fruits. Very readable, well
observed, honest, and lots of useful tips. We would have done better if we had followed more of his hard-won
wisdom. "I have wasted a good deal of money on machinery; early enthusiasm soon led to that common
mistake of over-capitalising a small venture....there are several machines which lie idle for most of the year
and then won't work when the passing moment comes......If there is one piece of advice more than another
which results from experience, it would be to choose a dwarfing rootstock for the orchard trees." And on sales,

"Provided a reasonable market is available, it pays to have a "natural" store and to
remain salesman as well as grower."
He gives precise instructions with diagrams and photos about
how he built an apple store from breeze block. Very practical, down to earth and human scale, down to giving
us the first names and pictures of his little band of workers.


To me, the value of this nice little book is that it was written from experience by a man who came to agriculture
late in life and  learned by doing-and from his mistakes. It is also very encouraging to us because it shows that
such a thing can be done, although it was probably easier then than now because the stranglehold of the
supermarkets and the globalisation of the fruit market was less established and the planning laws weren't so
prejudiced against 'good life dreamers' who wanted to live and work on 5 acres. But what was done, could be
done again, and perhaps any renaissance of small-scale fruit growing, and indeed of  British agriculture, may
be greatly helped by mid life career changers with 5 acres and a dream, if they are given half a chance-and
that must mean a change in the law to allow genuine people to build a house or live in a caravan on a
GENUINE smallholding as they build it up. (declaration of interest) A few years ago, "hobby farmer" was a term
of contempt, but what this man did is what we're trying to do,  and now that the average profit from a 500 acre
farm has fallen to as little as £2,500, who's crying now? We all should be. A quaint little book from a gentler
time. I have to admit though, that I planted too many Sunset partly because Dr Bell praised it so highly in this
book. It was also praised by Lawrence Hills who was a great apple authority and described it as
'the best of
the thronging Cox taste-alikes).
Sunset is a good apple, but fashions change and today's customers will
not tolerate softness in an apple so Sunset is hard to sell as it tends to go slightly soft (although still has a
great flavour) after a month in storage. Take this lesson from me and be careful never to plant too many of
any apple variety, however highly someone recommends it (even me!) until you have proved it in your soil,
climate and market. Still a very good book, and I saw one in Hay.



Along similar lines, but a more modern and sophisticated book, I found
"The Apple Grower" by Michael
Phillips
surfing the net late one night and got my copy a few weeks later. Like the Geoffrey Bell book, it is the
story of the establishment of a small apple orchard, but it is much more. Published by Chelsea Green in 1998,
(ISBN 1-890132-04-7) it is a beautiful mixture of the practical, the philosophical, the instructional, the historical
and the dream of the apple and of growing on a small scale and selling to a local community who feel they
have a stake in the orchard. Michael Phillips' orchard is organic in every sense of the word, and he is an
fervent advocate for this style of food production, but the book is philosophically committed to the 'organic'
approach, but thankfully devoid of the customary set-piece attacks against those who feel the need to use
some chemicals. On conventional apple growing wisdom, he writes "Each orchardist needs to define his or her
constraints, both economic and environmental, and proceed from there. Doing the best you can do at this
particular time is enough-......Few people can afford to go totally organic on any kind of significant commercial
level, yet its vital that here and there we begin to figure out integrated organic systems. Small growers can
lead the way for larger growers to take what are now perceived as incredible risks." And Mr Phillips and his
partner David have taken incredible risks on their Lost Nation orchard in New Hampshire. True, their income is
only around 50 cents an hour, both relying on "working wives" to bring some money in, yet the enterprise as
described is a thing of very great beauty and surely has a lot to teach any small-scale modern grower, not
least about "unique selling point" marketing to a local community. Food miles and stakeholders again.  I have
since been in touch with Michael -he emailed me after a friend told him I had favourably reviewed his book on
my site and I hope to visit him one day (New Hampshire, Old Hampshire...see the connection?) Ah, the
wonders of the web...



There are plenty of quotes from the long history of apple growing in the USA and elsewhere, plenty of practical
wisdom and new insights on old problems, and an honesty which I find refreshing in an "organic" book. For
example, there is a photo of a bar of soap hanging from a deer-damaged tree, with a caption saying that
obviously the deer in Lost Nation were unaware that the soap should have deterred them from biting the young
apple trees. Elsewhere, the writer speaks of the need to try to educate the apple buying public to be more
tolerant of blemished fruit, and the many alternative ways of "value adding" apple, e.g. by making chutneys,
"jellies" (jams), "cider" (apple juice) and "hard cider" (cider) (Americanisms abound-forgiveable I suppose in
an, er, American book!), all of which suggest a practical approach to the problem of fruit that doesn't "grade
out" well enough to be sold as raw fruit. We sympathise earnestly, after all, we spray conventional chemicals
(minimally) and this year (written in 2001) still lost most of our Spartan and half the Red Pippin crop due to
apple scab (Joni Mitchell's "spots on my apples" (Big Yellow Taxi) do not merely uglify fruits, they can wipe out
a crop and destroy trees. Even organic growers like Michael are compelled to spray permitted 'organic'
fungicides like copper sprays)

This book is a must for anyone contemplating growing apples organically on any scale, and I would say any
serious apple book collection would be deficient without it. A literate and poetical view of an orchard, balanced
with a useful amount of technical instruction and the right amount of photos, woodcuts, stories, poems,
diagrams, references and quotes. $35 (USA). There is a second edition out now in which Michael (with whom I
swapped my spare Bunyard 'Anatomy of dessert' for a copy) very kindly mentions me in the
acknowledgements and looks forward to us sharing a glass of honest cider 'on hallowed ground' to which I say
'Amen!'


The Book of Apples by Joan Morgan and Alison Richards, first edition 1993. A heavyweight
tome published in association with Brogdale Horticultural Trust. Brogdale of course hosts the English national
apple collection of some 2,000 varieties and the latter third of  this book lists them all with brief facts about
each variety. A4 sized and at £30, it mainly deals with the ancient and modern history of the apple and the
orchard trade, also looking at the apple in literature and mythology, apple customs etc.  If money is no object, I
would say it is a very good, perhaps definitive, in-depth guide to the apple. As well as the history and
cataloguing there is a useful section on growing as well as  nice illustrations. Essential addition to library for
apple maniacs, a bit heavyweight and dear for those with merely a passing interest.  ISBN 0-09-177759-3


The Fruit Expert by D.G.Hessayon,  pbi publications, ISBN 0-903505-31-2. Now in a new edition, we
have the 1st impression, paid about £9 I think. This is the fruit book you are most likely to come across in the
garden centres etc (there is a series of 'The**** expert'), and it covers much the same ground as the Fruit
Garden Displayed, if a bit less authoritatively. Very readable, well illustrated, easy to dip into. Lots of colour
pictures of apples, pears etc with handy tables next to them giving period of ripeness, pollination groups etc
and some brief comments. I prefer the RHS book, but this is thoroughly workmanlike, easier to read if you are
a complete beginner and you won't go wrong if you follow the advice here. The author made some comments
about several of my favourite apples I didn't agree with, I'm not saying which, but that's OK-better than
regurgitated 'received opinions'. A practical and inexpensive book for someone who doesn't know much about
fruit gardening and wants to make a start.


The Good Fruit Guide  by  Lawrence D Hills. This slim paperback, ISBN 0-905343-12-3,  was
published by the Henry Doubleday Research Association in 1984. The HDRA would be your best chance of
finding a copy. Mine is very tattered now, and was the main source of information available to us when we
planned our orchard a dozen years ago.  After an introductory chapter or three, the late Mr Hills (who in his
day was a well known advocate of the organic movement and was often on press and TV) gives us his
descriptions of what he considered the best fruits for flavour. There are growing notes and useful lists of for
example apples that do well in restricted forms, those which are best for flavour, the best cookers. He also
deals with plums, pears and soft fruit.


One reason to get a copy if you can is the author's passionate plea for real and distinctive flavours from the
garden, as opposed to the globalised apple the industry finds it convenient to sell us (see 'Not on the Label'
review below). Rather like a modern day Edward Bunyard (whom he quotes). Here's a few samples.....
."We
live in an age of thick skinned tomatoes that grow over a hundred tons of watery weight to the acre,
lettuces with just a faint flavour of corks, and imported apples with no more taste than sugared
water. Even the Cox has lost it's savour.....

.........We have come a long way from "The Anatomy of Desert", the forgotten classic written in 1928
by the late Edward Bunyard.......Today, sweetness from the hidden sugars in soft drinks to the
cyclamates and synthetic substances of the slimmers are the ever present background "musak"
that dulls our tastebuds, until we can no longer appreciate the perfection of a pear at the peak of
condition. This explains the rise in popularity of Golden Delicious, which is not so much an apple
as a permitted sweetener...

.........The synthetic flavours of today, like the bacon or turkey tastes added to textured vegetable
protein or savoury nut roasts, are as 'loud' as discotheque music, and slowly we lose our sensitivity
and appreciation..complex chemicals that make a strawberry ice taste so much more like a
strawberry that modern children are disappointed with their first real strawberries and cream..."

Similar comments might be made about the accountancy-driven pre-packaged synthetic garbage sold as
popular music and TV today.


Favourite Lawrence Hills quote,,
"It takes two people to plant a tree, and they should
take their time over it, for they cannot have anything more important to do with
the time saved by haste."


"The Good Cider Guide" has now run to, as far as I believe, 3. For more on this see the archives of the
Google ukcider group! The first, edited by David Kitton is, as in the Ronseal adverts "what it says on the label".
The book is essentially in 3 sections, there is some discussion about what cider (and perry) is, details about
the main producers including where to find them, what sort of ciders they produce, etc, and to some the most
important section, which pubs throughout the country sell real cider on draft.

My 1990 copy of the Good Cider Guide has inspired one or two weekends in and around Somerset which
included some remarkable meetings e.g. with the incredible Naish brothers, two good old boys growing cider in
the shadow of Glastonbury tor, whose scarecrow tweed jackets really were done up with binder twine. I couldn't
believe the rough scrumpy they sold me out of huge old rum oak barrels for a silly price, £3 a gallon or
something. At Mudgeley, I remember asking the formidable Mr
'Call me Roger!' Wilkins for a taste and being
given a half pint glass and free run of a cider house with barrels taller than me and with laughter ringing out
from jolly boozers on Sunday pre-lunchtime. In Street I saw the inside of a real Aladdin's Caves of cider barrels
and bottles, including really rare delicacies like single-pomme varietals like Morgan Sweet  and Kingston Black.
 There was a half hour leaning on an orchard gate discussing rootstocks, cider history and apple varieties with
the cider grower. The Good Cider Guide helped me find all these delights-most of the places really worth
visiting were off the beaten track and you won't find many of them unless you have this book or are very badly
lost.

NB one of the Naish boys has taken ship into the West, God rest him, but Wilkins is still very much at it. When
we visited Mudgeley at apple pressing time last year it was the same routine
'call me Roger' and here's a half
pint glass to taste from the (huge) casks.

I have another edition (unlike beer, which CAMRA produces annually, this is an occasional event) edited by
David Matthews. I slightly prefer my older version but this is more up to date, vital if you are planning to go on
a cider cruise since growers come and (sadly) go. The new edition which is due out sometime this year, I think,
will be worth waiting for. My advice is take the car to Somerset with this book, an empty boot, oh, and a teetotal
driver! ISBN 1-85249-104-3 (first edition)


The
"Common Ground Book of Orchards" is an absolute delight. Its very easy to dip into and
appreciate in small bites, a bit of a "cider-table" book but much more than that. Coming from Common Ground,
as you would expect it is more dreamy-whimsical than agro-technical, and as such will probably appeal to
people who are into conservation but don't own a pair of secateurs much less an apple tree. There is a lot of
apple and orchard culture and history, on the front cover it says
"conservation, culture and
community"
, and of course a good deal about Apple Day, the new October festival started by the
organisation, which gets bigger every year. With pictures on most pages, including 50 outstandingly beautiful
black and white photographic studies of West Country orchards by James Ravilous, this is very much a book to
"get us in touch with our feelings" about the great tradition of apples and orchards in England, a tradition that
Common Ground has done more than anyone to try to renew and revive. The back end of this book is
absolutely stuffed full of references, addresses and phone numbers to do with all things of the apple, worth it's
purchase price (£18.99) as an apple information source alone.  ISBN 1-870364-21-X . Recommended for
schools and anyone interested in establishing a community orchard.


"A Somerset Pomona" by Liz Copas is a book which will mainly be of interest to the true cider
aficionado or anyone who wants to plant apple trees specifically for the production of quality cider. Cider, that
underrated, misunderstood, abused and neglected drink which at its best can be as good as wine and far
more ecologically sound than beer
(Beer uses a great deal of energy in its production, whereas cider at is best
is a carbon sink and a lot of windfall, misshapen and otherwise waste apples can be used)
,  can be made from
the fermented juice of any apple, but proper 'vintage' cider requires West Country vintage cider apples such
as Kingston Black, Somerset Redstreak, Bulmer's Norman, Dabinett, Chisel Jersey and the rest in the blend.
This lovely book contains text, diagrams and photos of all the best known Somerset cider apples, with much
information about cider production past and present. Discussions on the uk cider group confirm that this book
is a favourite with lovers of real cider, both here and in the USA......The Dovecote Press, ISBN 1 874336 87 3    
 £9.95 ( I think its more like £12.95 now but still a bargain)

The distinctive thing about these wonderful West Country cider apples is tannin, a series of  complicated and
little understood organic chemical compounds which occur in true cider apples which give distinctive flavour
and mouth-feel characteristics. If you bit into a bittersweet cider apple such as Tremlett's bitter or Harry
Masters Jersey, as I have done, you would spit them out, not because of the taste but because the tannins
tend to strip the skin form the inside of your mouth, at least so it feels. But taste these apples in a properly
blended cider-ahhh!


Incidentally, I do find it amusing that while we are failing to develop, maybe even losing, our great traditions of
cider in England, various honest but I feel misguided enthusiasts struggle desperately against nature by trying
to produce grape wine here. Of course they have to use German hybrid vines grown for their tolerance of
miserable weather and not specially tasty, and they have to add sugar to get an acceptable alcohol level for
wine, and only get a crop 3 years out of 5. OK, sometimes its not too bad, but if you cross the channel to
Normandy they make the best use of their growing conditions, which are similar to ours, and produce-cider!
Not until you get 100 miles south do the first vineyards appear, and wine lovers will know that the northerly
wines of the Loire are only so-so compared with the richer flavours the grape gives in Languedoc or Bordeaux.
I think we should mostly forget growing outdoor grapes and grow apples instead, and more people should
follow the noble example of  (arise Sir) Julian Temperley of Burrow Hill in Somerset and distill apple brandy like
the French do. He had to struggle against seven kinds of boring pathetic little beaurogits before finally being
allowed to do so, even though his enterprise was obviously going to restore a tiny little bit of national glory, pay
tax and create employment. What kind of country.....


It is, unless like Julian Temperley you have struggled through fire and water, or indeed firewater, to obtain a
licence, against the law and
very naughty indeed to distil cider to make apple spirits (Calvados or cider
brandy....)  but if just out of interest you wanted to find out how it was done, or if perchance it is legal where
you live, there are precise instructions in  "Cider", a very thorough and useful book of instruction concerning
all things to do with making
"Sweet and hard cider". by Annie Proulx and Lew Nichols. ISBN
0-88266-969-9
 Storey books, Vermont (www.storey.com) Recommended if you want to make natural apple
cider, which is of course perfectly legal. Selling it is another matter which I don't want to get into discussing the
legalities and complexities of. Another American book, it acknowledges the English contribution to apples and
cider and mentions the different types of cider which can be made, comparing and contrasting the Old England
and New England styles.  There is extremely practical advice about making vinegar, grafting, troubleshooting,
care of barrels, etc. There is a description of the tricky and not always reliable process of 'keeving' which is
how the French produce naturally sweet ciders (if you want to do this but can't obtain this book, try Andrew
Lea's Wittenham Hill cider website). There is also a mention of dear old Johnny Appleseed, a sort of
Pomological new world version of Sir John Barleycorn except that he was a real individual. The reclusive
Hamble Delta blues man Ramblin' Steve Appleseed was inspired by the Johhny Appleseed legend. A very
readable book which balances the technical/instructional side with the touchy/feely/dreamy aspect, I would say
at the present time this is probably the most useful book for the home cider maker, although you need Liz
Copas too, especially if you are English. Vigo stock it.


"Cider-the forgotten miracle" by James Crowden is not a book of instruction but will be enjoyed by
all who love the mystery and romance of apples, orchard and cider. James has had an interesting life-soldier,
traveller, Himalayan hermit, shepherd, student (at Oxford) labourer, engineer and poet. Recently he's been
heard on radio 4 on a funny programme called the landscape detectives or something. The book is beautifully
printed on cream paper with lots of apple and cider history, myths and traditions, poems and tales, all told in
the author's wistful and contemplative style. On  the front cover is an extraordinary engraving entitled "Adam
and Eve in Somerset" * which sets the scene for the book's contents. Don't buy this if it's practical instruction
you are after, there are other books for that as I've mentioned, but for the true cider aficionado it is an
essential companion. ISBN 0-9537103-0-0. This remarkable author has produced a few other books which we
have, I would recommend 'Blood, earth and medicine' which is a book of Ted Hughes-esque poems about the
yearly cycle of an agricultural labourer,
'In Time of Flood'  which is photos , narrative, history and poetry
about the Somerset Levels (a remarkable little corner of England which we visited in November 2004. A long
weekend here can take you through Glastonbury-where you can visit the abbey orchards, Wells with it's
marvellous mediaeval cathedral and close, Cheddar Gorge with its striking geology, the willow and basket
centre (please buy something to keep them in business), and some of the best cider makers, as well as an
ancient wetland landscape described in 'In time of flood'). He also collaborated on
 'Working women of
Somerset'
which is again pictures and interviews with, working women in Somerset. Fascinating and
delightful, if not much to do with apples, but again everything's connected. You can read more on his web site,
Google on James Crowden.

James Crowden' latest book
'Ciderland'  I have only flicked through as so preoccupied with other things
since my copy arrived, I will post a review when I have read it, but flicking through it looks excellent. Interviews
with noted cider makers, lots of pictures, the real thing.

* Incidentally, regardless of the imaginings of mediaeval artists, the Bible does not say that the forbidden fruit
in the Garden of Eden was an apple, and since the apple is a cold country fruit, it is most unlikely that it would
have been growing in the Garden of Eden where it was warm enough to go naked all year round. Apples are
mentioned in the Bible on several occasions, notably where God's chose people are described in a couple of
places as
'the apple of My (God's) eye' (that's where the phrase comes from), and in the Song of Songs where
we read
'My Beloved is like an apple tree among the thorns.'  PPS I am no Hebrew scholar and am
assuming that the word 'apple' is translated correctly. I'll have to check this.

Cider and Juice apples: growing and processing edited by R.R.Williams, University of
Bristol printing unit. This is a highly specialised paperback about commercial cider growing and production. It is
of interest only to the person who intends to grow apples for cider and juice, but I would say if that is you, on
however small a scale, this is indispensable. Again, I got mine from Scotts of Merriot, but they are alas no
more. I believe it's still in print. Sound technical information about everything to do with making proper cider,
but not the easiest or most attractive book and the Proulx and Nichols cider book book and particularly Liz
Copas' lovely book on cider are much nicer reads. But for a serious cider orchardist, you need this too. Pretty
technical.


Perry Pears  The National Fruit and Cider Institute, Long Ashton. Edited by L C Luckwill
and A Pollard,
this rare book published by the University of Bristol in 1963 is the only book I have ever
come across or heard of devoted to this subject. It is a complete book with history, geography, technology and
in the most interesting section a series of black and white photos of mature specimens of the winter-bare trees
themselves with a facing page of information about the variety. Perry pears seem to belong to Gloucester,
Hereford and Worcestershire for the most part. There are also colour plates of some of the better known
varieties. You are not very likely to get your hands on a copy of this beautiful rare old book, I think I got mine
from Scott's nursery of Merriot, Somerset, a dozen years ago, no good trying them-they've just closed. Try
Vigo, or the bookshops of Hay-on-Wye.


Perry is harder to make and perry pear names are even weirder than Cider apples: we are talking about
Hendre Huffcap, Harley Gum, Rock, Butt, Thorn, Flakey Bark, Merrylegs, Green Horse and the sinister Dead
Boy. Perry pears live to a great old age-I remember visiting relatives in Shropshire one spring and seeing
these great towers of blossom which were ancient, giant perry pears growing in meadows. Regrettably, perry is
even harder to find than real cider and due to the lack of economic value, new orchards are not being planted
and old trees are gradually dying of neglect. There is a beautiful colour photo in the 'Common ground book of
orchards' of a 48 hectare perry pear orchard in Combe Florey, Somerset, in full blossom. A small caption on
the facing page says how this orchard was cut down to make way for subsidised arable crops. A crime in my
view as bad if not worse than burning a Van Gogh painting (and I like Van Gogh very much). I appeal to
anyone who has enough land, plant JUST ONE perry pear on a big rootstock-these trees can grow 50 feet
high, put on a towering show of blossom before the apples bloom that people will see and enjoy for miles
around, and in good years produce maybe a quarter ton of fruit, which if you can't use you can probably sell to
a perry maker. The tree may live for 200 years and if the trunk is kept fairly straight by skilful pruning will
hopefully make very fine and rare timber for the craftsman cabinet maker. Pear wood is sought after for knife
handles, wood turning, and I just discovered last week it ids the preferred wood to use for woodcut
printing.There is an old saying 'He who plants pears, plants for his heirs.' Of course you can get pears sooner
on a dwarfing rootstock, same as apples, but full-sized pears are strikingly beautiful and you will be a
benefactor should you be able to give one a home.

NB there has been a recent upsurge in something called 'pear cider' ) a 'Magners' style drink which includes
some pear juice. If demand for this is sustained it may lead to more Perry pears being planted, not that they
use proper perry pears for it, but its better than nothing. I have said this before, but if we are serious about
global energy and other resource issues, we had better start planting more fruit trees, not least as the carbon
cost of producing cider and perry is far lower than that of beer, and that's before we start on the transportation
of it.

The only commercial maker of perry I know is Westons of Herefordshire. There are a few small makers,
Gloucester and Hereford is a likelier hunting ground than Somerset and Devon if you are looking for perry. We
planted 5 perry pears but horses ate them except a Butt and Winnal's London. I grafted some of the latter on
dwarf rootstocks, made 2 gallons of perry from it, so bitter it was undrinkable. I should have been patient and
kept it for a couple of years, instead I blended it with some weak cider, which it improved. That was 3 years
ago, we had to move the trees (planted in the wrong place) and haven't had any crop since. We are growing
on 2 seedling pear rootstocks in our coppice, they and the Butt are putting their energy into growing not
fruiting-these big trees like to grow very big before they eventually fruit. Ask me in another 5 years.

NB a note on perry. It is usually made from a single variety, not blended like apples for cider. There is little
literature, I do not know how 'evidence based' this is-I have heard of fermentations that are very slow to start,
perhaps due to a lack of malic acid or nitrogen, and some traditions suggest adding say 20% Bramley apple
juice to your perry juice must.

PS I decided to keep the above paragraphs up as I edit this in October 2009 even though we have had the
'PEAR CIDER' boom. Bulmers. Magners and a few others are selling 'pear cider' which we are told is made
'with' pears. I don't know too much about how these drinks are made, and I remember having a couple of
horribly expensive bottles of Bulmers Pear at a Joe Satriani concert as an alternative to keg beer. It was clean,
medium sweet, and vaguely fruity, but not very reminiscent of Perry.


The Grafter's Handbook by R J Garner. First published 1947. Another book that "does what it says
on the label", published in association with the RHS, ISBN 0-304-34274-2, obtainable from eco-logic books
£16.99. This book is mainly of interest to the commercial grafter and has more information than most
orchardists will ever need,  and it isn't only about apples, but if you want a book on grafting, this is the one. I
am going to put some practical advice on simple grafting techniques on this site in due course, hopefully by
the winter (grafting should be done in late winter/early spring) so I won't say too much more, except that my
grafting skills have improved since reading relevant sections of this book. Saddle grafting is the technique I
find most useful.

Not on The Label (What REALLY goes into the food on your plate). Felicity Lawrence,
Penguin, 0-141-01566-7, £7.99

This is not primarily a book about apples but the UK food trade in general , including apples (as in 'The Kent
apple blossom trail has been cancelled as so many orchards have gone bust and been grubbed up'). It details
the extreme measures the industry takes to squeeze a few more percentage points of profit out of the food
trade and maintain the illusion of
'perpetual global summertime'. Ms Lawrence has not done this book
by sitting at her PC and reading reports, she has been out there as you can read, working on the line in a
'chicken factory', seeing at first hand the conditions of the immigrant workforce in Lincolnshire, and sharing a
meal with some unfortunate north Africans living in (not near, IN) a rubbish dump among the discarded
pesticide kegs not far from holiday homes in southern Spain where YOUR salads are produced before being
driven 1,000 miles in refrigerated juggernauts to England. She painstakingly documents the lives and
conditions of the illegal and barely legal migrant workers in Europe including the UK,
(effectively slaves but
without the job security. At least slaves represented an economic asset to their owners so were fed, housed
and clothed-the poor souls written about here are nowhere near so cared about, they can die in the gutter and
be buried in the rubbish tip-plenty more where they came from.)
, the ingredients that go into chicken nuggets
(no, we haven't eaten any since reading this), the exhaustion of the hyper-exhausted soils of southern Europe,
the chemicals used to wash lettuce so it stays fresh down the cold chain, et cetera. It is horrible and if you (like
me) shop at TescoSainsAsda you are a stakeholder in this system which is FAR FROM PLEASANT. You
probably don't want to know about the 'scalding tank' in the 'chicken factory' but if you intend to go on eating
chicken you probably should. Yeeecch!  This is not a pleasant read, but if enough people read it and get
angry enough to DO SOMETHING it might help, amongst other things, the cause for decent apples locally
grown. It quotes a Kentish apple grower who was selling up as he couldn't make a living when the
supermarkets drive down prices paid to the grower to an unrealistic level. When his agreed price was cut down
to below his production costs and he protested, he was told
'We can always buy cheaper overseas'
(due to zero workers rights, illegal subsidy and minimal environmental protection there). The hypocrisy of the
supermarket spokesmen appals me even  ore since I read this book. Everyone we talk to about this says 'not
in my name!' but still it goes on.



There are 'beauty parade' digital camera systems on the apple conveyor belts in the hangar-sized pack
houses where apples are processed from cold store to lorry. They can be programmed to reject apples which
stray 2 or 3 percentage points either way on the red cheek on one side of the apple. 30% or more of good
fruits are rejected because they do not fall within narrow size bands-designed to make 4 apples weigh just over
a pound so you spend a bit more in the shop. These apples are not rejected for disease or unripeness, or
even lack of the dreaded CRUNCH (which is measured by a piece of kit called a penetrometer) but WRONG
PERCENTAGE OF RED SKIN COLOUR.


Farmers forced to meet the cost of BOGOF (buy one get one free) promotions, deceitful labelling, the Prince
of Wales' organic Duchy carrots rejected as they are not shiny enough. And more. If you read this book, you
will probably get angry. It is also to be hoped that you might support local growers and markets-if you are lucky
enough to still have any. The author's anger is not prejudiced and ranting (unlike this review, which is) but
measured and focussed, and is well supported by a wealth of factual information, some of it collected working
undercover at the sharp end. It is thoroughly well researched and indexed and I commend it-fighting, hopping
mad angry with a system in need of change I do.

PS Since I wrote the above words 2 years ago, the global food situation has become more frightening, and
crisis is getting nearer. As I write tonight (8th January 2010) Britain is in the grip of the coldest winter for a
generation, farmers are throwing away milk as it cant be got off the farm due to iced up roads, there is no
bread or milk in the shops, and we only have a week's supply of gas. People are starting to get really anxious
about food security. Please forgive the sermon, but this matters-a lot-and I hope readers will think what they
can do to consume more responsibly and think about the lives of the agricultural workers who feed us all,
some of them rise their families on less than we spend on coffee and newspapers and live like slaves but with
less job security. Sermon over.

As Holy Scripture says (James chapter 5 vs 4-6)
'Look! The wages you failed to pay the workmen who
mowed your fields are crying out against you. The cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of
the Lord Almighty. You have lived on earth in luxury and self indulgence, you have fattened
yourself in a day of slaughter. You have condemned and murdered innocent men who were not
opposing you!'
Strong and scary words which regardless of your faith are just as true now as when the
apostle James wrote them around 50 AD.

Grow your Own Fruit (Carol Klein and RHS) (Mitchell Beazley, ISBN 978-1-84533-434-5)

I borrowed this book from the library to have a look. It aims to be a comprehensive guide to all sort of fruit
growing in the garden, headed up by the popular presenter Carol Klein from BBC's 'Gardener's World' which
we usually watch when its on, although I've never really enjoyed it so much since Geoff Hamilton died. Partly
nostalgia, partly other reasons I won't bore you with.

Its a perfectly decent modern version of that old staple
'The General Purpose Fruit Growing Book' for
the average gardener, covering everything from strawberries to melons, and although I prefer the Fruit
Garden Displayed, this is a very decent substitute, especially if you like lots (I mean LOTS) of atmospheric
colour photographs to look at, and of course if you're a fan of Carol. I haven't read every word of it, but where I
have checked details against my knowledge, it's at least OK. On Quince and Medlars for example, it gets it
right. The advice on planting and pruning are fine (apart from one photo on page 79 showing a very
protuberant pruning cut I would never accept) details like removing water shoots, how to hold the secateurs
(blade side nearest the tree) are correct. There is a very decent section on pests and diseases which,
unusually for anything associated with the 'organic'-fundamentalist BBC, actually mentions specific pesticides
necessary to control vermin.

I don't agree with her choice of featured apples, for example I think
Discovery is rubbish and she omits many
of my top favourites, but that's perfectly normal-long live personal preference in such matters! Critical details
about rootstocks, training restricted forms, etc are present and correct. Grafting is not covered, I think thats a
shame, but then again this is a populist BBC spin off book and most people don't graft, so not a serious
criticism. She does mention a number of old and new varieties and, importantly, draws attention to their faults,
for example biennial cropping and large size of Blenheim Orange, short shelf life of the otherwise excellent
cooker Grenadier, Cox's sickliness (like me, she more or less says 'best avoided'), the need to thin Sunset to
avoid tiny fruits, etc. This is a good point-never trust a fruit book that heaps unstinting praise on every variety.
Apples like Sunset are worth growing, just remember to thin them, etc.

This gives the impression of being the book the modern Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) wishes to offer us as
a substitute for the good old Fruit Garden Displayed. It is certainly a comprehensive book which approaches
all aspects of fruit gardening. I could have enjoyed the book as much, possibly more, with fewer pictures of
Carol smiling and posing for the camera and a few more of, for example, how to graft fruit trees. That sums up
the difference for me between the old book and this one.

Most likely any reasonable person approaching fruit growing for the first time or wanting to gain understanding,
try some new sorts of fruit and generally do better will find this a pleasant and useful read. Certainly worth
getting out of the library, although I don't think I'll be buying a copy, but then I do have a large collection of fruit
books already. Priced at a very reasonable £16.99, this would make a very acceptable Christmas present for
almost any gardener, and is certain better than many of the comparable older 'general purpose fruit grower'
books in my collection. November 2009.

Highly opinionated book reviews by Stephen Hayes

I may add more as I discover any books worth knowing about. If anyone has read and written a
positive review of any worthy books on apples, pears, cider or closely related subjects,
please
contact me via my blog
and I will post your review, subject to approval, here under your name if requested.


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