Monday, 7 October 2019

The brothers Laxton

We have had a very poor crop of apples this year from the nine or ten different varieties we grow. The exception, for reasons I cannot fully discern, is Laxton's Fortune. This has done rather well and today I picked most of the remaining apples left on the tree. 

The last of the Laxton's Fortune

Laxton's Fortune, introduced in 1931 having first been raised in 1904, has in its parentage Cox's Orange Pippin. That is to say, a really good pedigree, so no wonder it is an apple with many fine characteristics

We have to thank the Laxton brothers, Edward (1869-1951) and William (1866-1923) for Laxton's Fortune and quite a few other 'heritage' varieties of apples and fruits. Their father, Thomas, who was originally a lawyer, started a nursery business in Bedford. He was a pioneer in using a systematic approach to  fruit tree breeding by selecting the best characteristics to produce improved fruit varieties. Interestingly, Thomas corresponded with Charles Darwin which is probably indicative of the scientific approach he adopted. 

The Laxton brothers developed the nursery and were prominent Edwardian horticulturalists. Among the many apples they introduced, aside from Laxton's Fortune, were Laxton's Superb, Laxton's Pearmain, and Lord Lambourne

Edward was awarded an MBE for his contribution to horticulture. Edward Laxton's son inherited the business but sadly decided to close it down in 1957. An important source of some distinguished British apple varieties is now no more but the fruit of this work lives on in many garden's (including ours) today.