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Strange fruit for 2017

Lubera's EU-baiting Apple Paradis The Forbidden Apple
Lubera's EU-baiting Apple Paradis The Forbidden Apple. Picture; Lubera

EU challenging apple; citrus; dwarf mulberry; framberry

There is some unusual fruit on the market this season – some bringing fruit growing within the scope of the urban and suburban gardener, some downright exotic and one challenging an EU edict!

Lubera is breaking all the rules with its Forbidden Apple – but it really has been banned by the EU!

Beaurocrats decreed in January that apples should not be yellow at the time of sale, lying open or in a food container at the supermarket, saying it signals over-ripeness and a mealy texture.

Now, varieties of the most important fruit species may only be introduced in the EU if they are included in an official, state-managed (and expensive) list.

The variety must be tested (its novelty, its variability, and stability), which costs a few thousand euros, therefore it becomes impossible or very expensive to bring new niche varieties to the market, which will lead to fewer new varieties, breeding, innovation and creativity.

Grow apple at home

However, Lubera’s Forbidden Apple (Apple Paradis®) CAN be bought for home gardeners – its small to medium fruit are round and rather flat, 40-60 per cent red, but the rest is bright yellow.

It’s very firm and fine-celled, a cross between Resi and Pink Lady, with a juicy, sweet-sour taste. It stores up until the new year when the acidity decreases and the apple become sweet with plenty of juice and firmness.

Resistant to scab, with a medium to strong habit, it is well-branched with regular, high yields from late September until early October.

A 5l 1-year-old costs £22.95; 10l bush £39.95; 10l espalier £44.95 and a 10l Semi-standard £49.95, visit www.lubera.co.uk.

Also at Lubera is a huge range of 60 citrus varieties, which are much easier to overwinter than you might think.

The best place to overwinter citrus is somewhere like a garage with windows, rather than a greenhouse. The leaves usually drop off, so don’t panic, as it will grow new ones come spring.

Here are some of the more unusual varieties:

American Miracle Lemon

  • Growth: Medium strong, thorny.
  • Flowers: White, in clusters.
  • Fruits: Very large lemons, less elongated than the typical lemon form; very good aroma like a culinary lemon only with much more pulp and juice.
  • Use: Just like a culinary lemon.
  • Frost hardiness/overwintering: In a cold house, more frost-sensitive than other lemons.
  • Price: bush in 6l pot £34.40.

Imperial Lemon (a cross between lemon and grapefruit)

  • Growth: Strong growth and needs light.
  • Flowers: White, the fruits, and flowers are often at the same time.
  • Fruits: Round to ovate, very large for a lemon; the flavour is a bit like pomelo.
  • Use: The pulp can be removed for fresh consumption, similar to a pomelo; the peel and the inside of the fruit for cooking.
  • Frost hardiness/overwintering: in a cold house.
  • Price: Semi-standard in 8l pot £51.90.

Neapolitan Lime

  • Growth: Quite slow-growing, medium-sized plant; smaller leaves, thorny branches.
  • Flowers: Many, small, white flowers with a strong fragrance.
  • Fruits: Thin peel, with typical smelling essential oils, no seeds, very sour.
  • History and use: Similar to the Mexican lime, sour and very juicy.
  • Frost hardiness/overwintering: Overwinter frost-free in a cold house.
  • Price: Bush in 6l pot £34.40.

Variegated Orange

  • Growth: Variegated leaves; medium strong growth.
  • Flowers: Buds and flowers are white, intense fragrance.
  • Fruits: Sweet orange.
  • Use: Colourful foliage; sweet and edible fruit.
  • Frost hardiness/overwintering: Overwinter in a bright and cool spot that is never warm.
  • Price: Semi-standard in 6l pot £51.90.

For more details, visit www.lubera.co.uk.


Framberry. Picture; DT Brown

The framberry, a hybrid developed nearly a century ago and revived by DT Brown. It’s a cross between the beach strawberry (Fragaria chilonesis) and the scarlet strawberry (Fragaria virginiana), producing raspberry-sized fruits with a flavour between that of a strawberry and a raspberry.

The fully hardy plants have a similar height and habit to modern strawberries, with deep green foliage. The berries are bright red with seeds set deep into the fruits.

It’s best to plant framberries next to strawberries to aid pollination and maintain their flavour. Fruit is usually ready from mid-June to mid-July, with each plant capable of yielding up to 150g.

One framberry in a 9cm pot costs £7.95, with three for £15.90, despatching from mid-April.

For more details, visit www.dtbrownseeds.co.uk.

Mulberry bush Charlotte Russe

Mulberry Charlotte Russe
Mulberry Charlotte Russe. Picture; Suttons

A world exclusive from Suttons is mulberry bush Charlotte Russe (Morus rotunbiloba Matsunaga), a dwarf variety that fruits from an early age on old and new wood.

Remember the nursery rhyme “Here We Go Round the Mulberry Bush”? It dates from the mid-19th century, referring to a tree rather than a bush, growing in Wakefield Prison.

Mulberry fruit is not readily available in shops, as the traditional trees are large and not suitable for mass production.

However, they are delicious – tasting like a cross between a strawberry and a raspberry, with a hint of blackberry. They make wonderful jams, sorbet, pies, muffins and mulberry gin, and are high in vitamin C and iron.

Self-fertile Charlotte Russe fruits from May to September and is fully hardy, with a typical eventual height and spread of 1.5m x 1.5m, smaller in a container and there’s no pruning needed.

Plants are supplied in 9cm pots at £17.99, available now, visit www.suttons.co.uk.

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Mandy Watson is a freelance journalist and an incurable plantaholic. MandyCanUDigIt grew from the tiny seed of a Twitter account into the rainforest of information you see before you. Gardening columnist for the Sunderland Echo, Shields Gazette and Hartlepool Mail and editor of the Teesdale Mercury Magazine. Attracted by anything rebellious, exotic and nerdy, even after all these years. Passionate about northern England and gardens everywhere. Falls over a lot.


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