He's a hard-core gardener: Horticulturist grows 250 varieties of apple on just ONE tree

Paul Barnett with his unique apple tree. (REX/M & Y News Ltd)

A horticulturist has spent 24 years growing 250 different varieties of apple - on just one tree.

From Golden Delicious to Etlins Reinette, Paul Barnett, 40, has all the ingredients necessary for a scrumptious apple pie.

Paul, from Chidham, West Sussex, has been carefully nurturing the apple tree in his back garden since 1989.

Now he has grown 250 types of apple, including rare cooking apples Withington Fillbasket, which originated in 1883, and Eadys' Magnum in 1908.

Paul said: "I wanted to grow my own trees but I didn't have the area to plant that number so I started a 'family tree' where I can have all the different varieties in a smaller amount of space.

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"I add to it each year by budding in the summer and grafting in the winter."

Budding involves cutting a bud from another apple tree and inserting it into the bark while grafting uses a similar process but with a small branch carrying more than one bud.

The tree is now 20 ft tall, and its branches sag from the weight of the different coloured apples.

White wooden tags are placed next to each variety to identity each crunchy fruit.

Some of the branches are propped up with planks of wood due to the sheer weight of the fruit growing.

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Paul will gather his unique collection of apples in two to three weeks, when they are at their juiciest, to show at horticultural fairs.

He said: "My favourite eating apple is Winter Gem as it has a really nice flavour. It's crunchy, crisp and sweet.

"There are around 6,000 different kinds of apples worldwide and probably about 2,200 different types stored at the National Fruit Collection in Kent."

Paul adds to his collection either by buying them in from the home of the National Fruit Collection or swapping them with other apple enthusiasts.

Paul also has nine smaller family trees growing plums, pears, cherries and apples.

The keen gardener added: "My family have always been into horticultural, so it's in my genes.

"My parents help me pick and tend to my garden.

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