The RV Roger nursery and Plant Centre was established 106 years ago in the Vale of Pickering by Royston Valentine Roger (grandfather of the current owner), and has been synonymous with roses for much of that time. However, it has also developed into a nationally recognised authority on fruit, growing and selling more than 240 different varieties of apples from the nursery orchards.
The fruit collection in the Pickering nursery includes a huge range of rare and unusual varieties: historic ones such as ‘Court Pendu Plat’ said to have been brought over to the UK by the Romans; significant apples such as ‘Isaac Newton’s Apple – yes, that Isaac Newton who is credited with having ‘discovered’ gravity; or ‘Hunt House’ an apple growing on the North York Moors and reputed to have been take to sea by Captain Cook to help to ward off the effects of scurvy in his crew; the wonderfully named ‘Bloody Ploughman’ with a tale of a farm worker pinching apples, and being shot dead by the gamekeeper; Balsam – the classic ‘Farmer’s Wife’s apple; Catshead; Dogsnout; Beauties; Beefings; Custards; Herrings; Lords and Ladies – they’re all there. And all have a story to tell, a taste to tickle the palate, and a delight for the eye.
And, RV Roger is keen to continue this story today. Not only through guiding customers to make the best choices for their gardens and orchards, but also by exhibiting at major horticultural shows around the country each year. At the Harrogate and Malvern Autumn shows in 2018 RV Roger continued its century long tradition of award winning, by picking up a Premier Gold award, as well as Best in Show for 2018 at both venues. The Harrogate show is the largest autumn show in Europe, and this year more than 35,000 visitors were able to admire the fabulous fruit display including many recognisable varieties, as well as rarities that most had never seen before.
The Malvern Royal Horticultural Society autumn show follows in the show calendar, and RV Roger has taken top prize there for the last five consecutive Autumn Shows, pulling off the highest fruit award ‘The Stanley Lord Bowl’ presented by the Royal Horticultural Society at its annual awards ceremony at the Lindley Hall in London for the year.
This, for a modest-sized local business - to beat the best in the country year after year is a cause for great celebration. “It proves that we must be doing it right” said Managing Director Ian Roger.
Ian and his team will host their own Apple event on the weekend of the 5th/6th October, as part of Apple Day celebrations which are held throughout the country. The RV Roger Plant Centre on Malton Road in Pickering will be packed with a massive display of fruit; side stalls selling food and drink; plus talks and demos to catch up on pruning and planting techniques. Expert staff will be on hand all weekend to give free advice about when, where, and what fruit trees to plant to suit North Yorkshire conditions.
The first Apple Day was celebrated by ‘Common Ground’ on 21 October 1990 at an event in Covent Garden, London which the RV Roger business is proud to have been part of. Apple Day has been celebrated every year since then, and by the millennium, it was being celebrated in more than 600 events around the United Kingdom. Common Ground describe Apple Day as a way of celebrating and demonstrating, that variety and richness matter to a locality, and that it is possible to effect change in your place. Common Ground has used the apple as a symbol of the physical, cultural and genetic diversity that we shouldn’t let slip away. In linking particular apples with their place of origin, they hope that orchards will be recognized and conserved for their contribution to local distinctiveness, including the rich diversity of wildlife that they support.
That’s why there are events like Apple Weekend, to continue to tell that story, to intrigue and delight, to tempt and inform about the joys of growing this most fantastic of fruit.