ALBA HEART A Cherry of uncertain history and age, though well known in Hertfordshire and Buckinghamshire in the early 20th Century. It was not known elsewhere. The middle season, medium sized fruit is black skinned with juicy, dark flesh, the name ‘Alba Heart’ being something of a misnomer. The flavour is good. Trees are vigorous and middle-flowering.



AMBER Grubb, in his book on ‘Cherries’, 1949, says that Amber is the same as ‘Kent Bigarreau’ or ‘Amber Heart’. Bunyard (1920) says that ‘Amber’ is a synonym of Kentish Bigarreau (which he has as Bigarreau, Kentish). The fruit is ripe mid to late season. (July) The skin is pale creamy yellow with a red flush and is broadly heart-shaped, with a slightly flat top and bottom. The stone is small. The flesh is also pale creamy-yellow- sometimes crisp but it can be soft. It is sweet and juicy, with its own particular flavour. It was once a very common variety. Grubb says “The bulk of the mid-season white cherries sold by fruiterers each summer are of this variety; there is, in fact, no other white cherry of its season produced in England on anything like the same scale” and Bunyard also says that it is the variety commonly grown in Kent, and is the ‘Bigarreau’ or ‘Graffion’ of Thompson, Rogers and Hooker. Rogers describes it as ‘an old inhabitant of our gardens….valued in the dessert for its fine amber colour’. Late flowering.




ARCHDUKE Also known as Griotte de Portugal. The large fruit ripens from pale to dark red; almost black if left to hang until fully ripe. The flesh is very dark red, juicy and sweet, with a brisk flavour until fully ripe, when it becomes much sweeter. It is ripe from mid- to end-July. The trees are fairly compact and partly self-fertile. Hogg says that the true Archduke Cherry was for a time very rare: he first encountered it when visiting Rivers’ nursery at Sawbridgeworth in 1847, when Rivers told him that it had been grown there by his ancestors for more than a century. It was mentioned by Parkinson in the early 17th century, although even he found it difficult to obtain the true variety: “Scarce one in twentie of our Nurseriemen doe sell the right, but give one for another: for it is an inherent qualitie almost hereditarie with most of them to sell any man an ordinary fruit for whatsoever rare fruit he shall aske for: so little are they to be trusted”. Middle-late flowering.


AUGUST HEART ‘A’ A large, oval cherry with a long stalk, found in Buckinghamshire and kept at East Malling. Our scion wood came from the National Collection around 1998. Ripe in late July or August (late for a cherry) becoming shining black, with dark red flesh, sweet and juicy and richly flavoured. Trees are fairly vigorous. Two other August Heart cherries have been known –one earlier and smaller than ‘A’ and another which is white. Late flowering

BEDFORD PROLIFIC ‘A’ Also known as Sheppard’s Bedford Prolific, it was introduced by Sheppard, a nurseryman of Bedford. It dates from 1857. There are three different varieties that have this name - A, B and C, - but this is the original one, from Buckinghamshire, where it was much grown. Trees are vigorous with large quantities of fruit, which have a shiny dark skin, dark mottled underneath. Flesh is very dark, tender and juicy, with good sweetness. The cherries are ripe in early July. Early-middle flowering. Incompatible with Early Rivers and Ronalds’ Heart.
BIGARREAU GAUCHER Believed to be an old variety but without any old recorded history, before 1907. It is one of the universal pollinators. A vigorous variety, which fruits in July and August, with almost black cherries, having very dark red, juicy flesh. It was regarded as one of the best for market. Late-flowering.
BIGARREAU NAPOLEON Said to be one of the best of the Bigarreau cherries, by Hogg. First known as Grosse Lauermann’s Kirsche, later as Bigarreau Lauermann and first noted in 1791, in Germany. It was introduced to England in 1832. Large yellow heart shaped cherries which develop a near total covering of deep red in the sun. The flesh is white and reddish at the stone, rich, sweet and aromatic. Ripe at the end of July and early August. Vigorous, prolific and hardy. Late-flowering.
BLACK EAGLE The name was recorded in 1814. Brought to our attention by Mr George Lewis of Prestwood Nature, Buckinghamshire. The only known tree, now very old, is growing in the former garden of the late Mr Maurice Randall, formerly part of a large commercial cherry orchard in Prestwood, owned by his forebears. Cherry orchards were once widespread in Buckinghamshire but all are now gone, except for a few orphaned old trees, scattered over the county. The Prestwood Black Eagle was said by Mr Randall to be “of the Bud type rather than the Caroon type”, meaning that it was reproduced vegetatively, rather than grown from true breeding seed, as were caroons (or crooms, carones). Large sweet, black fruit. Middle-flowering.
    BLACK HEART Bunyard suggests this variety dates back to 1667. The name has been used as a generic term for black-hearted cherries, but this seems to be the only one surviving the ages. A very old variety with black shiny skin and sweet rich and juicy dark red flesh. Medium to large, often mis-shapen but highly esteemed. The variety is fairly vigorous with a spreading habit. Ripe mid-season. Early-middle flowering.    
BLACK OLIVER One of the Universal Pollinators. Once popular in the West Midlands; not common elsewhere. Trees are vigorous, but not tall; rather spreading or weeping, forming a dense head when fully grown. The fruit is medium-large, round or heart-shaped, and is produced mid-season. Black, rather glossy skin, with inconspicuous dots. Very dark red flesh, which is soft and juicy. Early-middle flowering.
BRADBOURNE BLACK One of several old varieties in the keeping of the late Martin Stevens of Holmer Green, Buckinghamshire. In his late 90s, when he died, he had been associated with a local orchard, managed for Haslemere Estate, since 1928. The orchards were planted around 1820-1850 and his family, back to his great grandfather, worked with the fruit. The orchards have now almost all gone but many of the best old varieties, some now important rediscoveries, were regrafted and relocated by his family to his home. He reported that Bradbourne Black was new to Buckinghamshire during World War II. It is likely it arose at Bradbourne House, (now part of Hatton Gardens) East Malling, Kent, before 1920, when Bunyard wrote of it. Crane reported that there were two different versions in circulation and we have yet to establish which one this is. Once grown commercially in quantity, with good quality, heart-shaped, large, black fruit with a short stalk, firm flesh and dark red juice of very rich flavour, mid to late in the season. Vigorous trees, heavy cropping, with branches that sweep low. Mr Stevens said it can be eaten while still red and yet be very sweet. It goes fully black when ripe. Middle flowering.
CASSIA A variety traditional to Buckinghamshire, and occasionally found in Hertfordshire but about which very little is known. Grubb, in his book ‘Cherries’ (1949) says it is also spelt ‘Casher’. The fruit is medium sized and black, maturing mid-season. Flesh and juice are dark red, sweet and tangy. The trees grow quite tall. Middle flowering.
CIRCASSIAN Provided by Mr Stevens of Holmer Green who had a very old tree. There are two Circassians noted in the old records, Circassian A and Circassian B. The former, according to Grubb, is known only in Buckinghamshire and Hertfordshire, the latter being from Kent. Early writers assumed they were the same and confused them with Black Tartarian. They have also become confused with one of two versions of Knight’s Early Black. This is the old established Buckinghamshire variety. Though the name goes back to the 19th century, it is not clear which one is referred to. The fruit is very large, very dark red, sweet and juicy, with dark flesh. The cherries have a long stalk and the trees have an arching habit. Early to Middle-flowering.
CROOKED BILLET Around 2005, we were shown a very old cherry tree, by farmer and conservationist Tony Austin, at the Crooked Billet public house in Stoke Row, near Henley, Oxfordshire. It was close to the end of life and believed to be under threat from renovations to the premises. We took cuttings, though the tree had not produced new growth and grafting cherries is rarely successful with older wood. It took a few years to nurse new trees through, in order to generate good scions. Trees then took time to fruit properly. In 2015 we had the first cherries, large, amber and red, paler in the shade. The fruit had juicy, sweet, pale flesh with a very interesting and slightly smoky caramel flavour. The original name might never be known and we have named it after the place. We think the original tree has now gone.