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A new variety of apple tree at Westbury Arts Centre named after garden volunteer Clare Butler

A new variety of apple tree has been found in the grounds of Westbury Arts Centre and has been registered with the National Fruit Collection.


The tree has had its name registered as ‘Westbury Butler’ as a gesture of gratitude for the time and contribution to the garden of volunteer Clare Butler.


Clare Butler pictured with the Apple Tree at Westbury Arts Centre
Clare Butler pictured with the Apple Tree at Westbury Arts Centre

Head gardener, Suze Miller, said: “We wanted to say thank you to Clare for all her help in the gardens over the years as well as her efforts in getting our tree named. Her surname, Butler, also seemed so fitting for our lovely tree - it has been with the house through so many residents and changes - like a faithful butler serving its family. And it is absolutely one of the most valuable parts of the garden and very much part of Westbury and its history.”


Clare, a professional freelance gardener, volunteered in the garden for some 10 years, although had to pause in 2022 due to illness.


Clare explained how she came to identify the tree as an unknown variety: “The tree is clearly very ancient, maybe 100 years old. What I find odd is its position – we know that there was a fruit garden at the other end of the building so this tree is a bit out on a limb in what was the ornamental part of the garden.  The age obviously makes it special and gives it its extraordinary sculptural quality. Some very rare insects have been found in it, a beetle called the Noble Chafer, which is nearly extinct because it’s only found in old orchards of which there aren’t many left.”


Clare outlined the process she went through to get the tree named: “As the apple didn’t taste like any other old garden varieties, I was familiar with, I was curious to find out what it might be. I sent in some samples of twigs and leaves to the database ‘FruitID’ for DNA fingerprinting. Eventually the results came back stating that it wasn’t a recorded variety and inviting me to submit it for registration. This involved submitting several fruits with extremely detailed descriptions of various characteristics and features.”


Clare said: “It didn’t occur to be that it might be a nameless variety, but I’ve since learnt that half the types submitted to the National Fruit Collection for identification turn out to be unrecorded. I suppose that’s not so surprising since named ones are generally cultivars that are bred for their desirable characteristics and hence nurtured.”


If you are interested in volunteering in the garden, please visit the following link:

The Apple Tree at Westbury Arts Centre
The Apple Tree at Westbury Arts Centre


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