Monday, December 8, 2008

Apples on the Web: National Fruit Collection (Brogdale Farm, UK)

Note: As of 2009, Brogdale's web site is no longer the host for information about the National Fruit Collection, including the database of apple varieties. I've lightly editing this posting to reflect that and to provide live links.

Despite a slow and unintuitive user interface, Brogdale's searchable catalog of apple varieties in the the National Fruit Collection (in Kent, England) rewards the persistent with perhaps the most comprehensive list of apple descriptions online anywhere. As of late 2008 the index describes and depicts 1,882 distinct varieties.

Brogdale's catalog is a database, part of the dark web that is not indexed by internet search engines. You won't find these descriptions and photographs in Google; you must dig for them.

Update: One improvement in the new NFC database is that you can link directly to individual listings within it. See, for example, the NFC's description for Hubbardston Nonesuch (which I also review.)

The National Fruit Collection has its origins in Kent (though not at Brogdale) at the time of Henry VIII. Brogdale Farm is open to the public and holds an apple festival in the fall.

Apples are just a subset of the entire collection. The Brogdale Trust's web site also provides interesting links and research, though sadly it no longer hosts this history of fruit in England. (That charming essay is available nonetheless thanks to the internet archive.)

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