LANGLEY BULLACE Introduced by Veitch's nursery at Langley, Buckinghamshire, around 1902, though closer to a damson than a bullace. The vigorous trees are tall with twisted branches and are prolific croppers. The fruit is oval, medium sized and blue-black with a distinct sweet/sharp damson flavour. It is ripe in late October. Middle flowering.



LATE TRANSPARENT Bred by Thomas Rivers’ nursery at Sawbridgeworth, Hertfordshire, from the old Transparent Gage, and introduced in 1888. Golden skin and greenish yellow flesh, which is very juicy and very sweet. It is ripe at the end of September. The habit is less vigorous than most. Self sterile. Late flowering.




LAXTON’S GAGE Introduced in 1919, by the ‘Laxton Brothers’ nurseries of Bedford. It is believed to be a cross between Old Greengage and Victoria, and was an attempt to breed a hardier gage, partially successful. The trees are vigorous and self-fertile, but crop heavier with cross pollination. It flowers mid-season, fruiting at the end of August. Fruit is a little larger than some, clear yellow when ripe, soft, juicy and well flavoured. Middle flowering.


MANACCAN A chance seedling found and grown in the Manaccan and Kea districts of Cornwall, one of many such wild plums long grown there, though Manaccan is considered to be the best. The self fertile, readily suckering trees produce medium sized oval fruit with pretty yellow, pink flushed and mottled skin, and apricot flesh. The flavour is rich and acid and is still much prized for jam. Ripe in September or earlier in hot summers. Prolific crops. Middle flowering.

MARJORIE’S SEEDLING Its early origin is unknown, but it was believed to have been found in Berkshire by G.W. Layley at Hillfoot Farm in 1912. The National Fruit Trials received it in 1928 and it was introduced to the trade in 1943 by Burleydam Nurseries, Staffs. The large blue-black fruit is mainly popular for cooking and preserving, unless very ripe. Fruit is ready from late September to October. Trees are vigorous with good crops. Mainly self fertile. Late flowering.
McLAUGHLIN’S GAGE An American gage raised by James McLaughlin in Maine around 1840 and introduced to Britain later that century. The medium-large greenish yellow fruit, with russet dots, has a rich flavour. Pick from mid-August. Self-sterile. Early to middle flowering.
MERRYWEATHER A damson raised by Merryweather Nurseries in Nottinghamshire and introduced around 1907. The fruit is quite large for a damson and there is probably some plum in its ancestry, but it has the true damson flavour. It fruits in early September and is mainly self fertile. Middle flowering.
MIRABELLE DE METZ One of the mirabelles - small rounded plums with a very sweet flavour. Named from Metz, in north-east France, it has also been called Drap D’Or, from the golden skin. It dates back to the 17th century, possibly earlier, and was in England as Drap D’Or by 1708, as recorded in the London and Wise list of fruits at Hampton Court. The small, very sweet, freestone plums, with yellow transparent flesh, ripen in August. The skin is golden, with a pale bloom that takes on a greenish tint, and speckled with red dots in the sun. It has long been valued for conserves. Growth is bushy and twiggy.
MIRABELLE DE NANCY One of the mirabelles - small rounded plums with a very sweet flavour. A ‘Mirabelle Petite’ has been known in France at least since the 17th century. Mirabelle De Nancy, is an old form producing larger ‘mirabelles’ in late August, though the fruit is still small. They are golden yellow, flushed pink and with an excellent flavour, but not particularly juicy. A dessert fruit, but also long used for preserves and in pastry dishes. Excellent crops. Middle flowering.
MISSENDEN ABBEY An old damson and one of the last vestiges of a large fruit growing area, surrounding the Abbey, which was founded in 1133, was then destroyed in the ‘Dissolution’ under Henry VIII, later rebuilt and then destroyed by fire. Almost nothing now remains of the historic buildings and the orchards which surrounded it to the west faded away. ‘Orchard Square’, in 1870, became ‘The Square’ in the 1880s, leaving just a small orchard, still attached to the abbey grounds, and a line of damson suckers, now trees, on the land of Abbey Farm, owned by Mr and Mrs Frank Pearce. Concerned for the survival of the remaining trees, they contacted George Lewis of Prestwood Nature, who alerted us. A good old local damson, with all the expected qualities, sweet and sharp, and fruiting mid-season.
NORTH HILLS There are many local varieties of damson spread throughout the country, right up to the borders with Scotland, and there are two, now growing wild on the Common, at Brill, a village close to us. This one grows on the north side of the hill that Brill is built upon. Rounder and sweeter than most damsons, and perhaps with some bullace in its parentage. Very hardy. Middle flowering.
OLD DUCHY GAGE When Prince Charles moved to the Highgrove Estate, near Tetbury, Gloucestershire, he pursued his passion for organic farming there. His farm manager, David Wilson, proved and promoted organic farming there with great success and it has become a beacon, a source of knowledge and inspiration to others, under David’s direction. During a visit by us to chat about many things, David showed us some very old fruit trees in the small orchard attached to his farmhouse, and this tree was one. It stood out because, for a member of the plum family, this tree had a huge trunk girth and was clearly ancient. Rather overgrown and yielding only sparse and old wood for grafting, David helpfully pruned the tree back in 2018, to generate new growth, and new trees were grafted in 2019. It is not really a gage, as would be recognised by most since the fruit, the wood and habit of growth are all different from what we see of the many varieties of greengage, though it has aspects of the nature of a greengage in it. It is certainly not a typical plum. In particular, the bark of new growth is a warm, light brown and the leaves have a curious drooping posture, while the fruiting spurs are more lateral and pointed than domestic plums and gages. It has something of the habit of a bullace, but is not the same and is obviously of superior quality. The whole natural history of bullaces, cherry plums, mirabelles, mirobolans and damsons has been very confused and clouded in mystery throughout the historical literature, and gives us no anchor point for this tree. Perhaps it is a missing link or bridge between antiquity and what we know now. Perhaps it is a cross between a bullace and a domestic plum/gage, but it seems most likely that it was no chance seedling, idly left to grow to such an age, and in a defined orchard area. Perhaps some ancient farmer deliberately crossed a gage or plum with a favoured bullace. If it was a chance seedling some keen eyed discoverer must have brought the sapling home. The mystery will remain. It is a small fruit, the size of a large cherry, round, with the look of a small greengage, green turning golden yellow when ripe. The flesh is very juicy, sweet but with a fair degree of acidity, not found in greengages, and with a pleasant tanginess. It is ripe in late August. We thank David Wilson for his help, insights and enthusiasm.
OLD GREENGAGE Also called Reine Claude and Greengage. It is a population rather than a variety since it comes reasonably true from seed, having been interbred for centuries. It is called Reine Claude after the wife of the French king, Francis 1st, 1494-1547. It came originally from Armenia, via Greece, but has been known in France since the late 15th century and in England since at least the late 16th century. It was mentioned by Parkinson as Verdoch, suggesting it might have arrived here via Italy. It has since been known as Verdoccia. In 1724 Sir William Gage, who had a garden at Hengrave Hall in Bury St Edmunds, acquired the green fruit but his gardener lost the label. It then became known as a green ‘Gage’. Medium sized fruit with transparent flesh, flushed amber. If eaten when exactly ripe, it is said to have the best flavour. Ripe in late August. There are conflicting claims on self fertility. Crops can be irregular. Middle flowering.