EARLY LAXTON Taylor says that this plum was introduced in 1916 by Laxtons of Bedford. A small to medium sized dessert plum, golden yellow with a light bloom and pinkish, tender and juicy flesh. Sweet and pleasantly flavoured, it is ripe a week earlier that Early Rivers, in mid to late July. Taylor considered it to be self-sterile, though Bagenal in ‘The Fruit Grower’s Handbook’ 1949 said it was partially self-fertile and ‘The earliest of all plums’. The trees have a slightly weeping habit, though Bagenal recommends it for wall culture. A good early plum. Roach says that it was raised in 1902 and introduced in 1919 and that it was a cross between Catalonia and Early Rivers. Early flowering.



EARLY RIVERS Introduced by Thomas Rivers as Rivers’ Early Prolific around 1830 and later Hogg, in agreement with Thomas Rivers, gave it the name Early Rivers. The former name was adopted because of the heavy early crops. Small, round fruit, purple in colour with a pale bloom, and sweet, juicy, golden flesh, is ripe at the end of July. Dual purpose. It needs a pollinator, Victoria and Denniston’s Superb being recommended by Taylor, but other middle flowering plums will do. The trees are of medium size and slightly weeping. Middle flowering.




EARLY TRANSPARENT GAGE Also called Early Apricot and Rivers Early Transparent, it was raised and introduced by Thomas Rivers of Sawbridgeworth in 1873. It is said to be a seedling of Old Transparent Gage, also known as Reine Claude Diaphane. The medium sized fruit is round and yellow with red dots and with a sweet, rich flavour. Fruits are ready in early August. Trees are self fertile and crop regularly. Middle flowering.


EIRIN BWLAS LILY JONES Brought to our notice by Mr Neville Lester, retired master mariner, of Caergeiliog, Anglesey, Wales. He and his wife, Gwen, still collect the fruit from the wild. The name Eirin Bwlas (Eirin suggesting some Irish link) is the Welsh for a wild bullace and Lily C. Jones was Gwen’s mother, who loved to gather and use the fruit. It was once a common tree on Anglesey and the Lleyn Peninsula, but is now found much less, due to population and development. It remains only in a few untouched areas. A purple-red, round bullace, at one time the main jam-making fruit for communities near the trees. It is also a very sweet, rich dessert plum, though quite small. Prolific fruits. Early to middle flowering.

FARLEIGH DAMSON Also called Crittenden Damson and Cluster Damson. A very old variety said to have been found growing wild in Kent, at Farleigh, by a Mr James Crittenden around 1820. Hogg records it, in his Fruit Manual of 1884, as Crittenden’s Damson. The small, rounded fruit is slightly tapered and almost black, with a blue bloom, and somewhat larger and fatter than most damsons. The fruit hangs in clusters, becoming ripe in the middle of September, but often stays on the tree until November, when the fruits become sweet and mellow. They remain juicy. When cooked they give up little juice, are rich and sweet with little sugar needed. Medium vigour with compact growth. The leaves are large for a damson. Good crops. Middle flowering.
FRENCH VICTORIA An excellent plum given to us by the late Joy Midwinter of Witney. It is believed to have arisen with her grandfather, as a cross between Victoria and a greengage, at the start of the 20th century. She knew it in her grandfather’s orchard next to the church at Wolvercote, Oxford, where she lived for several years. When she moved to Witney, her father grafted a new tree, for her new home. It is now over 50 years old. It was always known as French Victoria or French Victorious, by the family. It is really quite large, oblong to round, amber and burnt red, sometimes dark red, with a heavy bloom. Mrs Midwinter said it is self fertile, it having regularly set fruit without any other close plum tree. The plums are very sweet, juicy and of excellent flavour, produced in abundant quantity. Middle flowering.
GIANT PRUNE Also called Burbank’s Giant Prune. It was bred from Prune D’Agen x Pond’s Seedling. An American plum, introduced in 1895 and brought to England by Bunyard’s Nursery in 1897. Large, mid to deep red fruit with purple patches and russet dots. The greenish-yellow flesh becomes soft and juicy from early September, over a few weeks and is good eaten raw. When cooked the plums develop an extra richness. Self fertile. Late flowering.
GOLDEN TRANSPARENT A ‘gage’ bred by Thomas Rivers, nurseryman of Sawbridgeworth, Hertfordshire. It is believed to be a seedling of the old ‘Transparent Gage’ which was probably French. Golden Transparent arose before 1894. It has a tidy growing habit and is reckoned to be self-fertile. The fruit is large, oblong and golden yellow with red dots. The flesh is rich, sweet, juicy and firm. Ripe late from September to early October. Middle flowering.
HILPERTON EGG An old, very local and endangered plum, kept going by Richard Johnston, of Plymtree, Cullompton, Devon. The plum grew in West Wiltshire at Hilperton, a village west of Trowbridge. Three suckers were given to his father in 1954 by a Hilperton resident and Richard took suckers when he moved to Plymtree around 2010. He doesn’t know if trees were retained at his old house or locally, though he pointed out that the plums were good and the trees known to be rare. The plum is vigorous, large, yellow and red, egg shaped and for dessert use. The trees seem to be vigorous and can grow to 20ft. Relatively easy to root from cuttings, they do well on their own roots, and are said to succeed even on poor acidic soils. Richard said he nearly lost his only tree to silverleaf and it had to be cut down, but the roots were unaffected and he grew a tree from a sucker. The name appears in none of the old references so its age can only be guessed at. We are grateful to Richard for supplying scionwood, giving us the history and keeping it from extinction.
JEFFERSON GAGE An American gage, raised by Judge Buel of New York in 1825 and introduced to the London Horticultural Society by 1841. The large fruit is yellow, flushed red and with a delicious flavour. The flesh is pink and very juicy. Fruit is ripe in early September. Trees are self sterile and incompatible with Coe's Golden Drop. Early to middle flowering.
KEA Kea is a village just south of Truro, Cornwall and this cooking plum is part of the historic fabric of the area, said to have been a chance seedling. It is one of the plums that can be reproduced from cuttings or suckers. A small rounded plum, with dark purple skin, ripe in early September, or earlier in warm summers, with sweetish, juicy flesh, though too sharp to enjoy raw. It has long been used for jam. There was also a Red Kea known and now a yellow skinned Kea, but the dark skinned one seems to be the earlier and legitimate one. A prolific and precocious fruiter, which appears to be self fertile. Early to middle flowering.
KIRKE’S BLUE Also called Old Brompton. Kirke had a nursery in the Brompton Road, London. It has been a favourite plum since at least 1831, though the hey-day of Kirke’s nursery was in the 18th century. The sweet, juicy fruit with purple skin and greenish flesh is ripe in late August. Crops are sometimes light though it is said to be resistant to cold. Self-sterile. Tree growth is more dwarf and spreading than most. A good plum for drying. Middle flowering.