Tuesday, 25 August 2009

Spartan Apples & Art at the Abbey House Gardens

One of the most commonly asked questions we get in the Abbey House Gardens at this time of year is about our Spartan apple tree, one of the 180 different types of fruit that we have in our colonnade. The apples from a distance look totally red and can in some cases be mistaken for plums pre to a closer inspection.

Even more intriguing for our visitors is the collection of fibre glass rods that populate the Spartan apple tree. The sculptural art installation was the creative result of a few days work by American born sculptor Joan Edlis and represents linear lines contrasting against the organic shapes of the spartan apple tree. Its been housed in the gardens for a few years now. The rods are originally designed to hold wind socks in air fields but in the gardens the act as a great focal point in the distance to draw our visitors around to the rear of the fruit colonnade.

The spartan apple is most notable as its the first apple to be produced from a formal scientific breeding program. The apple was supposed to be a cross between the North American varieties, the McIntosh and the Newton Pippin, but recently, it was discovered through genetic and scientific analysis that it didnt have the Newton Pippin as one of the parents and its identity remains a mystery. The spartan is considered a good all purpose apple for eating and cooking, straight off the tree.

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