A unique aspect of my north Buckinghamshire orchard is that it features a specimen of every named variety of top fruit known to have originated in Buckinghamshire. There are also many others grafted from ancient local trees with no provenance and even wildings with noteworthy fruit, because they are all have something to offer and I think they are worth conserving.
One of the elusive fruits was the Allgroves Superb plum. It doesn't seem to be available commercially and I don't personally know anyone who has one in their orchard. The only examples I could find, five years ago, were at the National Fruit Collection, but scionwood was unavailable, due to some nasty diseases running rife in the plum collection.
I have been corresponding with Dr Matthew Ordidge, Scientific Curator at Brogdale, ever since my first enquiry back then. He has kept me informed on a regular basis as to progress with the health of the plum collection, the testing that has gone on each year and the results. Finally, in March 2015, he was able to give me the good news - the plums were pronounced free of disease and scionwood would be made available. Duly he arranged for me to receive three healthy pieces of Allgroves Superb scionwood, which arrived beautifully wrapped. It was a bit like Christmas, after so long!
I have grafted apple trees successfully for some years now, but not tried a plum, so rather than risk failure with such rare scionwood, I entrusted the grafting to Derek Tolmen of Bernwode Fruit Trees: http://www.bernwodefruittrees.co.uk
He and Judy have done me proud over the years with rare varieties from Buckinghamshire and beyond. I find their trees to be of high quality and it's always a pleasure to visit their nursery, tucked away in the Forest of Bernwode and to wander around the rows and rows of lovely trees, chatting about heritage fruit and deciding what to buy. Their friendly tabby cats like to come along too and assist with the choosing - just to add to the warm welcome!
Derek took custody of the Allgroves Superb scionwood the same week it arrived... and then in September, I received word that two of them had taken nicely and would be ready to collect later in the year. Yippee!
In November, I picked them up and brought them home - two lovely, little Allgroves Superb plum trees. They will spend the next year in pots, gathering strength and should be ready to plant out in their own orchard, next winter. It has taken five years to get this far, but now, at last, my Buckinghamshire Collection features the Allgroves Superb!