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Last Updated: Friday, 16 April, 2004, 11:44 GMT 12:44 UK
Search on for lost fruit trees
Simon Farr wants to bring back the forgotten varieties of fruit trees
The search is on to find the lost varieties of fruit trees which once blossomed across north east Wales

The region was once home to thousands of apple, plum and pear trees but they have largely disappeared and it is now better known for its livestock.

Members of the North East Wales Orchard Initiative have now launched an appeal to find the vanished varieties.

In the last 40 years an estimated 90% of the county's orchards have disappeared.

The group's co-ordinator Simon Farr says he believes people could have examples of the lost trees in their back gardens.

"It's not just people with acres, it could be a single tree in your back garden," he said.

Mr Farr, from Gwernaffield near Mold, says there are many reasons why local fruit trees have been forgotten, including a gradual loss of appreciation of the older varieties.

"As people move on or generations change, then the fantastic Lord Derby tree that was there becomes the old apple tree that doesn't really do much, which then becomes that pain that's blocking out my light.

"We are finding a lot of varieties which are able to cope with damper conditions.

"We're interested in finding the Denbigh plum, the Flintshire gooseberry and, as you move down towards Wrexham, you've also got quite a lot of interesting apple varieties as well," he said.

Wedding present

Mr Farr said some of the older varieties of fruit trees have already been discovered locally, but they do not have a name at present.

"This autumn we're going to send some fruit off and some leaves to get them identified by an expert," he said.

"It could well be that the expert will write back not knowing what it is, which means we've got something that's unique to north east Wales, been bred in the area, suited to the soil, suited to the weather and grows really well."

Mr Farr has already planted an orchard at his Flintshire home, made up of 70 trees he and his wife were given as wedding gifts.

The orchard initiative will eventually be spread over six sites across the region.

Once stock is established, it's hoped gardeners and farmers will be able to buy the north east Wales fruit trees so that they will then blossom widely once more.

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