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Westbury apple tree gift gets Royal home
8:43am Thursday 7th June 2012 in Westbury
A special Wiltshire apple tree will soon be travelling from Westbury to a new home at Windsor Castle by Royal appointment of Her Majesty the Queen.
The tree formed part of the Westbury tent of exhibits in Salisbury Cathedral Close on May 1 which was visited by the Queen at part of her Jubilee tour.
The apple tree, called Julia’s Late Golden, formed part of the exhibition of the Bratton-based Reeves community orchard which boasts a unique collection of Wiltshire species in its 80-year-old village orchard.
The specimen was bought by the Westbury Area Board in the hope of donating it to the Queen as a Diamond Jubilee gift, but orchard volunteers Mike Pearce and Warren Harding had been waiting to hear whether she would accept the gift.
Mr Pearce said: "We are absolutely delighted Windsor Castle gardens will include a little bit of Wiltshire.
"We heard Her Majesty has confirmed she would be happy to receive the Wiltshire apple tree and that Windsor Castle would be the most appropriate location for it to be planted, so we will now be in touch with the head gardener there to arrange its transit."
The tree, which is unusual in being a Wiltshire species, has a poignant story all of its own.
It was named after Julia Hember of Codford who died from a rare form of leukaemia on June 1 2003, so the anniversary of her death was an apt time for the gift to Her Majesty.
While convalescing, Julia had spotted an apple tree growing in a rough area of their garden and asked her mother why she had planted it there.
It turned out to be a tree that had grown from a discarded core and over time it grew into a beautiful tree producing golden apples that not only hold on the tree until November but are also excellent for cooking, eating and juicing.
Sadly by then, Julia had died, but not before the tree had been named as a new variety by apple expert Dr Joan Morgan at Brogdale National Apple Association. Stuart Parkman of Triscombe Nurseries, West Bagborough near Taunton, took up the offer of growing this tree as a commercial variety, they named it Julia’s Late Golden and for every tree sold a donation is made to Bart’s Hospital in London, where Julia was treated.
Two Julia’s Late Golden trees are now growing in the community orchard at Bratton under the Wiltshire varieties section, while the original tree is still in the garden of the Hember family home at the Wool House in Codford.
Julie Swabey, chairman of Westbury Area Board, said: "For the Queen to visit our tent and see all our exhibits was enough, but this puts a most happy ending on what was a wonderful occasion. We are all very proud."
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