Until recently, most farms in Cornwall would have had a mixed orchard of apple, cider apple, pear, plum, quince and medlar trees, protected by hedges where lambing could take place and bees could be kept. Cherries were grown in the Tamar valley and in the south east. In West Cornwall special varieties of apples were grown for pickling.
There are quite a number of Cornish varieties which do well in the mild, moist climate of the south west, such as Cornish Aromatic, Cornish Gilliflower, Cornish Honeypin and King Byerd. These tend to be found around the Lizard, Hayle, the Lerryn, St Veep to Goland region and the Tamar valley.
Cherries were grown in the lower Tamar valley for fresh fruit shipped away via the river then by train and for jam making at Saltash. They looked so beautiful at blossom time that special boat trips were arranged. This industry declined after WWl and now few trees remain. Varieties such as Burcombes and Birchenhayes were named after the farms where they were first grown – varieties which are resistant to bacterial canker, the cherry’s bane. One of the few remaining cherry orchards in the Tamar Valley can be seen at Bohetherick.
However there are concerted attempts to bring back these unique varieties to the valley. For many years James Evans and Mary Martin have been collecting grafts of local varieties of apples and cherries and growing them in their own orchard. Many of these have now gone to other collections in Cornwall such as Trelissick Gardens and at Cotehele.
Kea plums from Cowlands are used in jam, ice cream and wine production
Corwall orchard groups
To find community orchards local to you, see our community orchard map
- Plymouth Community Orchards Network is a partnership of organisations working together for the conservation and management of community orchards in the City of Plymouth. Plymouth City Council and Plymouth Community Homes, along with other organisations, have been planting orchards around the city to try to halt further decline in orchards, increase biodiversity and connect people with growing food in their local area. Communities, Schools and Friends Groups have also been getting involved. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
Where to buy trees in Cornwall
- List of nurseries supplying westcountry varieties of fruit trees from Cornwall Council
- Cornish Garden Nurseries – supply 28 varieties of apple appropriate for Cornwall and the southwest. Also pears, cherries, plums, gages, apricots, damsons, quince and medlars
- Duchy of Cornwall Nurseries – 20 varieties of apples as bush and half standard trees, plus pears, plums, etc. Cott Road, Lostwithiel PL22 OBW. 01208 872668
- The Forest Garden – supply fruit and nut trees including small number of Cornish apple varieties
Orchard services and produce in Cornwall
- Cornish Orchards – Produce wide range of cider and fresh pressed apple juices and cider. Westnorth Manor Farm, Duloe, Liskeard PL14 4PW. 01503 263373
- Haye Farm Cider – Cider has been made on the farm since the thirteenth century using only apples from the farm and neighbouring orchards. They have over 40 different types of apple, some of which are particular to Haye Farm itself. Sold locally, in London and online. Haye Farm, St Veep, Lostwithiel PL22 0PB. 01208 872250
- Helford Creek Apple Juice – produced on the Lizard Peninsula and sold locally in shops and online. Also make cyder. Helford Creek, Helston. 01326 231341
- Spotty Dog Cider – small craft cider producer using local apples. Killibury, Egloshayle, Wadebridge, Cornwall, PL27 6EL. 01208 812722
- St Ives Cider – produce 3 apple ciders and a pear cider. Available through local outlets and online.
- Cornwall Gardens Trust – James’ and Mary’s Collection of Apples and Cherries by James Evans and Mary Martin
- Trelissick garden – The new orchard was planted 20 years ago to replicate the original Trelissick Orchard. There are over 70 varieties of old Cornish apples.
- Cotehele House & Gardens – has 120 varieties of Tamar Valley apples in the Mother Orchard.
This gazeteer is regularly updated. Please contact us if you have information to add.