Origin and History
Howgate Wonder was raised in 1915 by George Warren of Howgate Lane, Bembridge, Isle of Wight, from a cross between Newton Wonder and Blenheim Orange, who entered it in the 1929 National Fruit Trials at Wisley, where it won an Award of Merit. Introduced commercially in 1932 by Stuart Low & Co of Enfield, it received an RHS Award of Garden Merit in 1949. It is the largest English apple, and although too big for commercial production, makes a good garden and exhibition variety.
In 1997 a Howgate Wonder was recorded in the Guinness Book of Records as the largest apple ever grown, weighing 3 lb 11 oz.
The fruit is enormous, round and slightly irregular in shape. The skin is pale green with a brownish-red flush and stripes, turning crimson where it catches the sun. The flesh is pale cream and juicy with a firm texture.
Picking, Storing and Using
Pick Howgate Wonder in early October and use initially as a cooker. By mid December the sweetness develops and it becomes a good eating apple, with a crunchy bite and a sharp, refreshing flavour, similar to Granny Smith. It makes excellent juice.
Growth, Flowering and Pollination
Howgate Wonder is a vigorous, spreading tree, which will crop heavily in cool, dry areas but dislikes the wet.It has excellent frost and disease resistance. It is partially self-fertile but benefits from a pollinator such as Ashmead's Kernel, Lady Sudeley or Laxton's Superb. Even with a good pollinator it tends to be a biennial bearer.
Retired policeman George Wratten moved to the Isle of Wight in the early 1900s. The Wrattens lived at 4 Hope Cottages, Howgate Lane in Bembridge and the house is still there today, although the original tree was cut down in the late 1960s. Neighbours remember the tree with its branches touching the ground, weighed down by the enormous fruit. Mr Wratten sold the breeding rights to Suttons for a song, never realising how famous Howgate Wonder would become.
Copyright © Karen Meadows 2018