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Page last updated at 11:11 GMT, Friday, 29 October 2010 12:11 UK
New community orchard to save Denbigh plum

Sue Muse, Sparrow Harrison and Robert Price
Land donated by the Cae Dai Trust is being used to plant the orchard

A community orchard is being planted so Wales' only surviving native plum variety is saved for posterity - and eating.

A festival celebrating the Denbigh plum is takes place in the town this weekend and includes planting up to 50 trees.

The Denbigh plum was first recorded in 1785, but its availability became scarce over recent years.

That was until the first plum festival last year, leading to a revival in the fruit's fortunes.

"It's crazy the way it's taken off," said organiser Sue Muse, who runs Denbigh's Glass Onion cafe.

"After last year's first festival people wanted to know where they could buy the tree."

Denbigh Plum
The Denbigh plum is a unique variety

Now people have started purchasing their own trees to plant in the orchard as part of the community project.

Land has been donated by the Cae Dai Trust near the site of its 1950s museum.

Denbigh plum trees have been sourced from Wales' only commercial grower of the fruit, Ian Sturrock, Lon Cytir, Bangor.

The newly formed Denbigh Plum Group is carrying out a plum audit to find out who has a genuine tree on their land.

"We've located one right in the centre of town behind E Jones electrical shop and the Co-op has ordered two to plant in an area right behind the store," said Mrs Muse.

Denbigh plums are large, round and dark purple, but strewn with golden dots.

They are said to be much sweeter than other plums and also relatively disease-free.

An example of the Denbigh plum was found in the award-winning garden of historic Kelmarsh Hall, Northamptonshire, and its provenance has been agreed by Mr Sturrock.

The Kelmarsh head gardener, fearing the tree might not survive, called in staff from a local horticultural college who have taken grafts and budded them onto new rootstock.

On Saturday the plum festival including cookery and horticultural demonstrations and a market selling rural produce, while Sunday's community orchard planting runs between 12-4pm. Trees can be sponsored via the Glass Onion café.

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