Apples: British to the Core – Horticulturalist Chris Beardshaw uncovers the British contribution to the history of our most iconic fruit. He reveals the ‘golden age’, when the passion and dedication of Victorian gardeners gave us more varieties than anywhere else in the world. Chris also finds out how the remarkable ingenuity of a small group of 20th-century British scientists helped create the modern mass-market apple.
An apple is an edible fruit produced by an apple tree (Malus domestica). Apple trees are cultivated worldwide and are the most widely grown species in the genus Malus. The tree originated in Central Asia, where its wild ancestor, Malus sieversii, is still found today. Apples have been grown for thousands of years in Asia and Europe and were brought to North America by European colonists. Apples have religious and mythological significance in many cultures, including Norse, Greek, and European Christian tradition.
Apples grown from seed tend to be very different from those of their parents, and the resultant fruit frequently lacks desired characteristics. Generally, apple cultivars are propagated by clonal grafting onto rootstocks. Apple trees grown without rootstocks tend to be larger and much slower to fruit after planting. Rootstocks are used to control the speed of growth and the size of the resulting tree, allowing for easier harvesting.
Apples: British to the Core
Beardshaw was formally trained in Horticulture at Pershore College and holds an BA Hons and PGDip in Landscape Architecture from the University of Gloucestershire. He has won 35 prestigious design awards, including 12 RHS Gold Medals, the latest was for his Morgan Stanley Garden for the NSPCC at RHS Chelsea Flower Show in 2018 which also was awarded the coveted Best Show Garden Award. He has also been voted for the People’s Choice Award 5 times.
His first TV appearance was in 1999 as the expert on ‘Surprise Gardeners’ for Carlton TV. After this, he moved to the BBC TV and Real Rakeovers as the expert contributor. His first show as solo presenter was Weekend Gardener for UKTV Style in 2000. Also in 2000, he co-presented Gardening Neighbours for BBC 2. This was followed by three series of Housecall. After this, he joined Gardeners’ World Live as a specialist presenter, and then soon moved on to become a presenter on Gardeners’ World, alongside Monty Don and Rachel De Thame. Beardshaw was perhaps best known for his The Flying Gardener series for BBC2 which ran for four series. He currently presents Beechgrove Garden and is a regular panel member on BBC Radio 4’s Gardeners’ Question Time.
The Chris Beardshaw Rose was launched at the Hampton Court Flower show in July 2007. Beautifully scented with soft pink blooms, the new rose was produced by international rose specialist C&K Jones. Chris Beardshaw specifically asked for a donation (£2.50) to be made to the Royal Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) for every rose sold.