Collecting the folklore and uses of plants

REVIEW: Apples in Wales

Carwyn Graves, Apples in Wales: Rescuing Old Varieties, Gwasg Carreg Gwalch, 2018.

This little books brings together what is known about the cultivation and use of apples in Wales, which despite bordering Herefordshire, an English county famous for its orchards, has hitherto lacked such a volume.

Chapters deal with the early history of apples in Wales, apples during the modern period (1500-1970), the Welsh cider tradition, and Welsh apples today. Two appendices list Welsh varieties of apples, and suppliers of apple trees.  The book’s publication coincides with the development of a heritage orchard at the National Botanic Garden of Wales, which will include many of the varieties of apple formerly grown in the country.

The author seeks to show that apples were more widely cultivated in Wales than is sometimes supposed, and provides a map showing place names which include afal (apple), perllan (orchard) and orchard.  Such names are known from all parts of the country, apart from its mountainous interior.

All in all the book provides a thorough and readable, and well illustrated introduction to its subject, and we hope that the author will continue his researches and, in time, produce an expanded version.  (Perhaps by then there will be less need for scarcely relevant illustrations, such as the photographs of  David Lloyd George and his house, included because in June 1934 he ‘blushed with pride when apples he had grown were praised for the quality!’).

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