The last Scottish event of the year was a visit to the national collection of Cider apples, & Scottish Heritage apples & pears at Megginch Castle, Fife, which are being lovingly accumulated by the current owner, Catherine Drummond-Herdman. Having researched her long family tradition of fruit growing and breeding, Catherine is keen to keep this alive.
A large group of us were warmly welcomed by Catherine, & after refreshments and a quick tour of the house, Catherine took everyone through the formal garden in front of the house (a replanting project for next year), across the lovely old courtyard and into the large double walled kitchen garden which houses the Cider apples collection, grown as cordons. Most of these are three years old and have been allowed to fruit for the first time this year. There is more top fruit along the walls and in one half of this area Catherine has begun experimenting with growing tea. She has started with two varieties, from Sri Lanka and Nepal, which have been grown from seed. Many of the young plants didn’t survive the arctic conditions of last winter, despite being mulched with sheeps’ fleeces, but a good number did and are now healthy young bushes. Catherine is still working out the best way to grow them in Scotland.
The group then moved into the extensive orchard to see the apples and pears, some of which are unique to Megginch and others, like the Bloody Ploughman, were bred there. Catherine was happy for us all to sample any of the fruit and take some home. Many took the “Grenadier” which she recommended as a wonderful baking apple. Catherine will be grafting more trees to add to the collections next February and has agreed to offer a Practical Skills Day for a small group of Scottish members.