The term “family tree” usually brings to mind thoughts of ancestry and possible skeletons in the cupboard yet it also applies to a range of really exciting new Suttons products – Gourmet Fruit Trees. “Family tree” is the name given to a tree which has several varieties grafted onto the one trunk. Perfect for gardens where there is not enough space for several trees or for those gardeners wanting to try something a little different. Here at Suttons we have applied this technique to fruit trees and so can offer Gourmet Fruit Trees with several specially chosen gourmet varieties growing on the one tree.
To produce a family tree our nursery grows maiden trees for about 18 months and then selects those with the most suitable branch systems for grafting. Alternative varieties are then grafted onto the original tree and after about a year, during which time the grafts take and establish, you are left with a tree which has three or more varieties, all capable of producing fruit. So the production of a family tree is a fairly standard grafting process but takes a long time to get to the stage where it can be offered for sale.
To enable good strong growth, we use a semi-dwarfing rootstock for family apple trees, and M26 is the most common. For pear trees, Quince A is used and for plum St Julien is the chosen rootstock. Final height depends much on pruning and growing conditions but after about 7 years the trees will have reached a height and spread of 2 to 3 metres.
The Suttons range of family gourmet fruit trees currently includes:
Five great dessert apples on just the one tree! The base or “mother” tree is a Jonagold Apple on M26 rootstock. One branch is left as the original Jonagold, a large sweet apple with a thin skin. The other branches are grafted and are the following apple varieties:
Discovery – very crisp with a sweet, acidic flavour
James Grieve – a juicy, delicate flavour, great for eating raw and for cooking
Egremont Russet – a yellowish fruit with a nutty flavour
Braeburn – a large rich tasting apple
Five delicious varieties on just the one tree.
Williams Bon Chretien – great flavour and good for eating raw and for cooking
Beurre Hardy – Juicy and sweet with a hint of rosewater
Doyenne du Comice – very juicy with a buttery flavour
Conference – sweet and medium-sized.
Bonne Louise – Pink tinged flesh, juicy and very sweet
Gourmet Plum and Gage
Why just have a plum tree when you can have both plums and gages on the same trunk?
Victoria – the quintessential plum, perfect for pies, jams and crumbles
Opal – golden flesh with a delicious gage flavour
Gage Reine Claude d’Oullins – a very sweet gage
Mirabelle de Nancy – Mouth-watering fruit! Incredibly sweet and tangy, with a taste of honey.
Bleue de Belgique – A large red dark blue plum, excellent taste.