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Hi all, I'm thinking of planting an apple tree at the back of my garden and I have a few questions.  

1) What good eating apples can you recommend?  

2) Can you grow rambling roses/clematis together through an apple tree to give plenty of interest through out the year or is this just being greedy?  

3) How quickly do apple trees grow?  Ideally I would like it to reach close to it's full height within 5 years (say, on an M26 rootstock).


We have a Sunset which has lovely tasting apples.

I wouldn't let anything climb up it til it was pretty mature - climbers can get pretty heavy, and i would worry that might distort or damage young branches. You might also need to plant two as apples generally need a pollinating partner

I think the best tasting apple is Coxs orange pippin. Trouble is they are a bit tricky in some areas. easier to grow is James Grieve or Charles Ross, which have cox as one of its parents. I have a new tree of Gala, which is a nice crunchy apple fresh from the tree.     There are lots of varieties in the supermarkets at the moment, try some and decide which you like best. With pears, I like them crunchy so love unripe Conference, whereas OH likes them juicy and dripping and prefers Williams.

If you are growing on an M26 rootstock then that would probably be too small for you to grow anything up and through it. Its best not to have the fruiting branches of the tree crowded out by anything else as it will only cause trouble with pruning and the trees fruiting ability and may encourage fungal diseases. As for taste, that would be down to your personal preference, but I like Spartan, Cox, Discovery. Its a good idea to have a pollinator close by, either a tree of the same pollinating group or at least one in the group either side or a crab apple which flowers at the same time.


You'll need to check whether your chosen apple needs a compatible pollinator - most do.  

You also need to decide whether you want an apple that you eat straight off the tree but that won't keep well, or whether you want an apple that you can store.

Information about all of that here

My recommendation would be for a Norfolk Royal Russet - lovely shaped tree, fruits well even in bad years, wonderful flavour (a bit like a sweet Braeburn) and fruits rosier than on the picture.  How do we know?  Our neighbours have one and it hangs over our fence 



Here's a pic of next door neighbours' Norfolk Royal - if I was them I'd have picked and eaten them all by now, but aren't they gorgeous?  They've not got as much russet on them as on the website pic.



Jim Macd

Hi Dove, they are lovely, my neighbour has Norfolk Royal too. Least that's my best guess as to what it is. Very sweet, not a huge flavour and that typical conical shape. I prefer a most aromatic apple. I have Jimmy Grieve, (as I call it) I wouldn't be without it but it's not the best eater fresh from the tree. Not bad if you store it for a couple of weeks but still a bit tart but you get the aromatics coming through then. I've also got Spartan. It's not got a good reputation since since it's a MacIntosh apple but if you leave them on the tree as long as you dare they're really lovely. Mine weren't that sweet this year though. It's hard recommending an apple because it's a very personal thing.

Court Pendu Plat is a very nice apple as is

Orleans Reinette but they're not great croppers.

Irish Peach is very interesting but being early can be soft and doesn't store and it's a tip bearer so not good for espaliers or cordons. 

Ashmeads Kernel is a nice later apple

Ellison's Orange Is also another very nice apple. 

Worcester Pearmain is a very beautiful and reliable cropper, again and early apple but later than Irish peach and in a good year has a wonderful strawberry flavour. Worcester Pearmain is one of my favourite of the earlys. 

Adam's Pearmain is a well respect Victorian Apple. 

Lord Lambourne Is nice 20th century dessert apple it's a partial tip bearer


I recommend you look at the orange pippin website you might want to shop around first though. I buy my apples from either Blackmoor's Ashridge Trees, + Keepers There are others but I would always go Balckmoor first. Adam's Apple are the cheapest but I haven't got around to buying any from them. I belong to a group so get most of my stuff on the swap. 

Oh, as has been said, you don't want to grow anything through your good apple tree. Save that for the old, past-it's-best, not-very-nice-tasting apple tree. Anything shading the apples will reduce the flavour hugely. 


Our neighbours give us several of their Norfolk Royals and we like the flavour - as I've said we think they're like a Braeburn but a little sweeter.  But then flavour does sometimes vary from tree to tree and the growing conditions. 

Jim Macd

Yes, and from one side of the tree to the other. I've got an old apple that I only use for jam making but some of the apples on the south side, the ones that are red and russetted taste lovely. That reminds me. 

Egremont Russet is one of the best known russets. They taste like cork floor tiles from Tesco though.


So do most apples from Tesco in my experience - we get ours from the farm shop - they get their from a local Millennium orchard with loads of different varieties, they're picked when they're ripe and the difference between them and supermarket apples is amazing 

Jim Macd

Ooh, I'll have to search for one that does that. My trees are mostly under five so far though so I don't get months worth of cop. This is the Jimmy Grieve


Wow, lots of great responses, thanks!  I've got a bit of home work to do now looking at all the options, but definitely won't be winding any roses or clematis through my new tree when I get it.

I have a dwarf tree (Scrumptious) and next door have an old apple tree so I'm guessing (hoping) pollination should be okay - the community where I live was built in the 1920's and every garden had either an apple or pear tree put in the garden.  

I don't know where the original one in my garden went but I'm looking forward to the new one.  I'll let you all know what I've chosen when I get it.


Afraid that pollination is a little complicated with apples - just having another appletree nearby won't do - they have to have a pollinator of the right group - it's explained here 

It might be easier to look at the varieties of your available pollinators and see what they are compatible with then make your choice. 

Or of course a good crab apple tree will pollinate most apples. 

Jim Macd

If there is a crabs such as Golden Hornet, Jelly King, Evereste, plus many more then even if there isn't a domestic apple close by then you'll be fine. There's four groups of pollinators, if you have one from the same group or either side then you'll be fine. Crabs are good because they flower for a long time. The only time you need to worry is if you have a very early apple but even then if you're in a built up area there's a good chance of having a pollinator close by. Failing that you can always buy a small pollinator on an m27 rootstock and DIY with a feather duster but I'm sure you won't need to in a normal year. I have had to in the last couple of years though but hopefully things will pick up. You could also think of a family tree again make your own with some donated scion. It really isn't so hard. Most good websites will be able to offer suggestions for pollinators but in my experience don't rely on the GC for good advice on that score. 

The Manic Slughunter

I'm thinking of buying a couple of apple trees; one cooker one eating did want a Bramley but decided against that choice having seen I need two other apple trees to secure pollination success:/ haven't the room for big trees so I'm hoping I can have two patio sized trees and put them by the greenhouse area...any suggestions? I love Braeburns(has to be a juicy crunchy taste/texture) I can't bear biting  into a 'sawdust' apple...ugh! Hubby has instructed me to make sure I buy no more big trees after planting two labelled miniature Cherries which so far are 30ft high:/ eek! Pretty though Any advice would be fab



You could grow a 'family' tree where several different varieties (usually 3) have been grafted onto one dwarfing rootstock.  The suppliers of these usually ensure the varieties used pollinate each other too, so you shouldn't need to worry about that. I've been quite impressed by mine.  It's nearly full size now and only about 8ft tall and 5ft wide. 

Jim Macd

You miniature cherries, may have got huge because you possibly buried the graft and the scion rooted. You have to be really careful not to plant a grafted fruit tree too deep. Even an inch above soil level may bee too little.

Don't buy an apple you can buy in the shop unless it is very special or the ones in the shops taste disgusting. 

There are hundreds to choose from and that is literally and understatement. 

For a cooker try Grenadier - it is very reliable. But if you're only going to get two trees I'd want a more dual purpose cooker or just cook the desert. When you say 'cooker' that can mean at least two things. Either you want a pulpy apple or a tart apple that doesn't pulp. Orleans Reinette is the favourite cooker for the French Chef but not a great cropper for me. James Grieve is my best cropper for eating and cooking to a pulp. It cooks in a minute unless you have gallons of apple. 

Winter King or Winston is supposed to be a great, reliable, good cropping eater of the Cox style. But if you like a Braeburn you're more likely to like Spartan which is also a good cropper unless you live somewhere on the west coast where it rains a lot. 

You'll probably want to get it on an M9 or MM106 rootstock for a pot. That sounds counter intuitive but M27 rootstocks aren't vigorous enough to keep on going in a confined space. 

You'll want a two year old tree too. A tiny bit more expensive but worth the few ponds. 

Don't worry about pollination unless you live in the middle of acres of farm land. 

"did want a Bramley but decided against that choice having seen I need two other apple trees to secure pollination success"

Bramley is a triploid apple tree but it definitely does not require two other apple trees to secure pollination success, it only needs one of the correct pollination group.

The problem with triploids is that not only are they are they self sterile but also they cannot pollinate other apple trees.

Bramleys are in pollination group 3 so most other apple trees (the vast majority) will pollinate them.