Britons’ fondness for quirky fruits is helping the new white-fleshed, sweet-tasting cherry variety, Cherry Stardust, to gain momentum in several different horticulture sectors, stockist Frank P Matthews has revealed.
The variety has a striking, orange-coloured fruit skin and is said to be the first ever self-fertile, white cherry.
Its unusual characteristics caught the eye of the judges at the HTA National Plant Show, which showcases many new plant varieties to garden centre buyers. The show took place in Stoneleigh, Warwickshire, in June (2015) and saw Cherry Stardust win three awards – namely best in category (in the trees and shrubs category), a visitor vote award and “category silver”.
Frank P Matthews representative Stephanie Dunn James said: “We took six of the trees to the show, which impressed the judges and the hundreds of visitors from the horticultural world, many of whom were keen to place advance orders for the autumn.”
Dunn James revealed that Frank P Matthews began selling Cherry Stardust and a very similar variety, Cherry Starblush – which fruits about a week before Stardust’s end-of-July crop – last winter following feedback from its customers, who have been requesting unusual fruits to sell as “niche” products.
Dunn James said: “We get asked for unusual varieties all of the time. And the [fruit] growers are getting asked for unusual things as well – fruits like white-fleshed cherries, gages and Mirabelles (a cherry plum hybrid). You are not necessarily going to sell large volumes of these kinds of products, but they are put in at a higher price.”
As a result of the increasing interest in Stardust and Starblush, Frank P Matthews has this year (2015) made more stock of the two white-fleshed cherries available for purchase.
Several commercial fruit growers, including Kent-based grower SW Highwood, have also planted the two varieties. In addition to these plantings, Kent-based soft and stone fruit growing and marketing group, Berry Gardens, and the Fruit Advisory Services Team (FAST) – based at the site of the National Fruit Collection in Faversham, Kent – are currently trialling Stardust and Starblush.
Meanwhile, in keeping with the trend for unusual fruit, Frank P Matthews is this autumn introducing a new “super berry” named the Saskatoon to the garden retail market. The fruit hails from Canada and there will be five varieties available.
Photo provided by Frank P Matthews.