DANGLER Another old variety from the late Mr Martin Stevens. He had two very old trees. According to Grubb it is a Hertfordshire variety, but Mr Stevens’ ancestors had long known it in Buckinghamshire, albeit not far from the Hertfordshire border. It takes its name from the long slender stalks. The small to medium sized oval cherries, which become larger as the tree gets older, are mid to late in season. They are almost black with shiny skin and dark red, juicy flesh. Good flavour. Mr Stevens reported that the fruit seldom cracks. Middle flowering.



DOESN’T SPLIT A ‘temporary’ name for another of the late Martin Stevens’ old trees, for which the true name had been forgotten. It is a medium to large, sweet and juicy dark cherry which has the advantage that the fruit does not split in years when wet summers and rapid growth can lead to other cherries bursting their skins. Middle season. Middle-late flowering.




EARLY PURPLE GUIGNE This is an old cherry that seems to have come to England from Europe but without its name or history. In 1822 it was sent by M. Decandelle from Geneva, Switzerland, to the London Horticultural Society. He had it from Msr Baumann of Bolwiller, in Alsace, and the dates suggest the cherry was 18th century or earlier. It has a synonym of ‘German May Duke’ among other German and French synonyms. Having no clear name when it arrived in London it was simply called Early Purple Gean or Guigne. The word Gean comes from the region in Bordeaux known as Guienne, where the class of cherries called Geans were said to have come from. It seems to have disappeared from Britain, though as late as 1949 Grubb said it was often seen in the Kent orchards (‘Cherries’ 1949). Bunyard (1920) describes it as medium sized, ripe in mid-June, dark blackish-red, roundish heart-shaped, flattened each side, giving a very flattened oval appearance from side view. The stem is 2 inches long, and the flesh is black, with red veins, tender and juicy, the flavour being very rich and sweet. Earlier authors also praised its qualities, above other cherries. Hogg (1884) said that it would ripen in late May on a wall about a fortnight earlier than May Duke. We found Early Purple Guigne in America and grafted new trees here in 2002. Early flowering.


EARLY RIVERS Raised by Thomas Rivers from a seed of Early Purple Guigne. This dessert cherry bore its first fruit in 1869 and was introduced in 1872. The cherries ripen fairly early, occasionally even at the end of May, when they are red, gradually becoming near black. The skin is shiny and the flesh is dark red, melting and very juicy. Trees are very vigorous, with good crops. Incompatible with Bedford Prolific ‘A’ and Ronalds’ Heart. Early-flowering.

EMPRESS EUGÉNIE One of the ‘Dukes’, also known as Impératrice Eugénie. Discovered by M. Varenne in a vineyard at Belleville, near Paris, and first propagated by M. Gonthier in 1855. It fruits early in the season, by the end of June. The cherries have bright red skin, gradually ripening to dark purple-red, and with firm, juicy, sweet flesh, with a refreshing tang. It can be self-fertile, and was recommended by Bunyard as being good for garden purposes. Middle-flowering.
FROGMORE EARLY It was also once called Frogmore Bigarreau. Raised by Ingram, gardener at Frogmore around 1864. This dessert cherry has flesh of whitish yellow, juicy and very sweet. The skin is pale yellow with flushes of dull and bright red. The blossom is middle to late and this variety is therefore a more reliable cropper in years of late frost. The trees are fairly vigorous. Fruit is mid season. Incompatible with Waterloo. Early Flowering.
GOBLIN A very old variety, presumed of local Buckinghamshire origin, never mentioned in the historic literature and known only to the late Mr Martin Stevens. His tree was over 100 years old, when we saw it, and it might be 150 or more. In his 90s, he remembered it fully grown, as a child. The fruit is below middle size, black and more pointed than many cherries. Since the stone is larger in relation to the smaller fruit, it was used mostly for cooking, rather than dessert for the market, though it is a rich, juicy and sweet dessert fruit. His family prized it for pies and cherry turnovers. Middle-flowering.
HERTFORDSHIRE BLACK A shiny, black cherry of smallish to medium size, traditional to Hertfordshire. It was mentioned in John Boys ‘A General View of the Agriculture of the County of Kent’ in 1796, in a list. It is juicy and sweet, but also with some history of it being cooked. It is ripe in July and is early to middle flowering.
HONEY CHERRY Historical references to this old English cherry are very few. Though there can be no certainty that the Honey Cherry we have now is the same, it is interesting to note that in 1671 Sir Francis Drope of Berkshire, in ‘Sure Guide to Raising and Ordering Fruit Trees’ said ‘The English Cherry called the Hony-Cherry is the stock whereon the earliest May’s do grow’. He was probably talking about the May Duke – also a very old cherry. In 2010, the late Martin Stevens, of Holmer Green, Buckinghamshire, a veteran of fruit trees and from a line of growers, in his 90s, informed George Lewis, a fruit collaborator of ours for several years, that he had found a Honey Cherry. Martin Stevens found it quite by chance, in fruit, overhanging the road from a small garden in Cookham, Berkshire. He directed George and us to the tree where we saw some fruit and took cuttings. Martin Stevens later confided that Honey Cherries, though excellent and very sweet, were never favoured for growing widely, as the skin was thin and they could not be picked and transported to market without damage. A pale to orange red cherry with a deeper blush, very sweet, juicy and rich in flavour. Middle flowering.
KINGSHILL BLACK A very old tree at Cockpit Farm, Great Kingshill, Buckinghamshire, owned, along with several other old fruit trees, by the Nash family. Mr Nash was able to confirm that this tree was over 100 years old, from family records and memories, and, along with Mr Stevens’ Goblin tree, these are the only records known to us confirming that productive cherry trees can live that long. While always believing the probability, we had no such supporting evidence before that of Mr Nash and Mr Stevens. The cherries are dark and small to medium sized, ripening two weeks later than midseason. Mr Nash and his sister have known this cherry as Kingshill Black, and while similar, it is different from the Prestwood Black grown in the locality, Kingshill Black always ripening later. The cherry has very dark skin and dark juice, plentiful and tangy but also with modest sweetness. The juice stains the fingers. When cooked, the flavour is much enhanced, with that typical cooked cherry flavour. Stones take up a lot of the volume, but the product is very good, if sieved, and tasty enough to use as flavouring for ice-cream or fool. Middle flowering.
MAY DUKE May Duke is a possibly a corruption of Medoc, the French region where it was believed to have come from, centuries ago. Perversely, May Duke later became known on the continent as Anglaise Hâtive. The Duke cherry was probably first mentioned by Rea in 1665, though Parkinson (1629) knew of May cherries. A mid-season dessert cherry, ready by mid to late June. The fruit becomes dark red, with flesh of red - soft, juicy and sweet. Vigorous trees, cropping well. The fruit seldom cracks. It is partly self-fertile. Middle-late flowering.
MERTON GLORY Raised in 1947, a 'white' dessert cherry with fairly large white fruit, flushed red. The flesh is sweet and juicy. Fruit is ripe by late June. It is a vigorous and regular cropper, and also a universal pollinator. It fruits when young. The trees have a spreading habit. Middle flowering.
MORELLO The name means 'Little Moor', from the darkness of the fruit. It is thought to have been grown in Britain for several hundred years and may have been bred from Prunus Cerasus, the Wild Bitter Cherry, which is still found around the Black Sea. It was very popular in the 18th century. Though a very traditional cooking variety, it may be eaten raw if very ripe. Initially deep red, the cherries become almost black, but retain high acidity, ideal for sharpening pies, etc. Ripe in July, they last and continue to ripen into August. Crops are usually heavy. It is self-fertile and will grow on a north wall. Late-flowering.
MUM’S TREE A tree from the orchard of the late Martin Stevens at Holmer Green, Buckinghamshire, the name of which has been lost over time. His original tree was planted around 1911 and was always the favourite of his mother, née Alice Busby. The cherries are red and the sweetest of all the old cherries we encountered in his garden. The original tree has gone but a 30 year old offspring now grows in his former garden. Middle season. Early to middle-flowering.
NEWMAN In 2007, Mr C Hunwick, of Romford, Essex, sent us some fruit from his very old cherry tree, and later he sent scionwood. His house was built in the 1930s within an old nursery orchard. The age of the tree is difficult to judge, but it certainly predates his house and probably by many years. The cherries are really quite large, black, juicy, very sweet and rich. They are normally ripe in mid-July. The variety name is now lost and not readily discernible. Mr Hunwick asked for it to be named ‘Newman’, this being a family name that has been passed down the generations. A strong grower with excellent fruit.
NIMBLE DICK An old variety from the lost cherry orchards of Prestwood, Buckinghamshire. Once extensive, the commercial cherry orchards are now represented by individual trees, here and there. Reports of the existence of a tree of this old name came to George Lewis of Prestwood Nature, but rumours of the survival of Nimble Dick proved premature. When he found the tree it was already dead. In 2008 a very large and mature cherry was brought into the survey of Prestwood’s remaining cherry trees, by George Lewis, in the boundary hedge of the garden of Sue and Nick Snell. It was later identified as a Nimble Dick by the late Maurice Randall, the veteran cherry expert of Prestwood. The first new trees were propagated by us in 2009 and they returned to be planted in Prestwood. Our thanks to all concerned. It is a small, very dark red, almost glossy black, cherry with a long stalk. It was highly favoured, like Prestwood Black, for turnovers and pies, being rich and tart, but sweet too. The juice is dark and stains the fingers. Middle flowering.

NOIR DE GUBEN One of the Universal Pollinators, and once a popular market variety as its firm flesh meant that it travelled well. It was raised by Herr Groth of Guben, before 1920. A good pollinator for Early Rivers, as it begins flowering even earlier, but the flowering times overlap. The fruit ripens after that of Early Rivers; mid-season to late, later when young. It is large or very large, roundish or heart-shaped, quite plump, ripening to near-black, with a shiny skin. The flesh is very dark red, and although firm, is quite juicy with a good flavour. Trees are vigorous, spreading, with good crops. Early flowering.