The Orchard Today

The orchard today represents a tiny fraction (about 1%) of the Rivers Nursery site to its full extent. Together with the surrounding meadow and scrubland, it contributes tremendously to the green spaces in Sawbridgeworth. RHSO volunteers maintain the site according to our management plan to maintain our veteran trees and promote community enjoyment. The group welcomes help from all enthusiastic members of the town (and beyond) to help us in this goal. RHSO members are available to talk about the site today to local groups. If interested, please e-mail us.

The importance of the Rivers legacy to the community of Sawbridgeworth cannot be over-estimated. Part of this inheritance is the Rivers Orchard which is a wonderful treasury of fruit varieties. It is the home for approximately 560 fruit trees on a 4 acre site, comprising multiple varieties (see below), including the eponymous Thomas Rivers apple. The orchard contains the one of the most extensive collection of plums and gages in England with approximately 30 different types identified. Over 80 apple and over 15 pear varieties have been recorded and cherries are the next fruits to be identified. The Orchard includes the Conference pear and the Czar plum, two of the most well-known of the many fruits that have been raised or introduced by the Rivers family.

To date, 204 different species of flora and fauna have been surveyed and recorded, including species in danger of extinction such as the Turtle Dove, the Song Thrush, and the White Letter Hairstreak, Brown Argus, Small Copper and Small Blue butterflies. There are 3 orchids benefitting from the site's specific conditions: the Bee, Pyramidal and Common Spotted. Other species of special interest include the Woodcock, the Stag Beetle and the Brimstone Butterfly.

The project to identify existing cultivars in the orchard and re-stock with those developed (see a full list in History) or sold (see the catalogues in the archives) by Rivers Nursery has been ongoing since approximately 2008. The help of members of the fruitID project and Paul Read is greatly appreciated. The full list of cultivars identified on the site is shown below.

* indicates a Rivers cultivar.

** indicates a previously unknown cultivar found on the site and named by the volunteer groups.

83 Apple cultivars

Adam's PearmainAllington PippinAnnie Elizabeth
Arthur TurnerAshmead's KernelBarnack Beauty
Baumann's ReinetteBeauty Of BathBlenheim Orange
Bramley's SeedlingCharles RossCourt Perdu Plat
Cox's Orange PippinCox's PomonaCox's Self Fertile
Crab AppleCrawley BeautyCrimson Bramley
Crimson VictoriaCrispinDawn
Devonshire QuarrendonDiscoveryDoctor
Dunkerton's LateEdward ViiEgremont Russet
Ellison's OrangeEmneth Early Epicure
ExquisiteFairie QueenFearn's Pippin
Gascoyne's ScarletGeorge CaveGrenardier
Herring's PippinHolsteinHoney Pippin
James GrieveJargonelleKeswick Codling
King Of PippinsKing's Acre PippinKingston Black
Lady SudeleyLane's Prince AlbertLaxton's Fortune
Laxton's SuperbLaxtons FortuneLemon Pippin
Lord LambourneLord SuffieldMargill
Miller's SeedlingMonarchNew Hawthornden*
Newton WonderOrleans ReinettePam's Delight
Peasgood NonsuchPitmaston PineapplePrince Edward*
Ribston PippinRibstone PippinRivers Early Peach*
Rivers Nonsuch*Rivers St MartinRoyal Russet
Sowman's SeedlingSpartanSt Edmund's Pippin
St. Edmund's RussetSt. EverardSturmer Pippin
SunsetThomas Rivers*Tydeman's Early Worcester
Tydeman's Late OrangeVoyagerWarner's King
Worcester PearmainYoung's Pinello

1 Apricot cultivar

Early Moor Park

4 Cherry cultivars

Bradbourne BlackEarly Rivers*Merton Premier

2 Damson cultivars

MerryweatherRivers Early*

7 Gage cultivars

BrandyCambridgeEarly Transparent*
GoldfinchGreen EstablishedLate Transparent*
River's Late Orange

18 Pear cultivars

Bellissime D’HiverBeurre HardyCatillac
ConcordeConference*Doyenne De Comice
Doyenne Du ComiceGloucester MorceauLouise Bonne D'Avranches
Magnate*Marie-Louise D'UccleMerton Pride
OnwardPitmaston DuchessPrincess*
Summer Beurre*ThompsonsWilliams

21 Plum cultivars

Belle De LouvainBittern*Blaisdon
Burrell's RedCzar*Early Favourite*
Early Rivers*Firecrest**Jefferson
Marjorie's SeedlingMonarch*Opal
Red MyrobalanRivers Early Prolific*Severn Cross
Shropshire PruneSwanThames Cross
VictoriaWark's DrooperWhite Bullace