Caught a flight to Knoxville and made the trip to see David in Reidsville NC. His annual open house is the first two saturdays in November. What a neat experience for a person interested in (obsessed with) heirloom apples. He really has an amazing setup there. Live bluegrass music, fresh hard and sweet cider, fried apple pies, apples for sale, and over 40 varieties to taste test (free). I came away very impressed. He even let us walk the orchard and taste any apple that was still on the trees. I tasted so many apples I didn’t eat the rest of the day. The standouts in my mind were Keener Seedling, Kinnairds choice, Blacktwig, and the limbertwig family. I tasted Red Royal, Swiss, Old Fashioned, and Brushy Mountain. They were all fantastic. I have to say In MY opinion the Swiss and Brushy Mountain were two of the best apples I’ve ever tasted. I don’t think an apple can be much better. Very similar in size and flavor to each other but the brushy may have been a tad firmer. When David took me to the tree he grabbed one and even he was impressed with it. I picked the tree of the remaining 10 apples or so and ate a couple everyday for the rest of my vacation. I won’t soon forget that apple. Spent a few days in Gatlinburg to. Kind of a somber feeling driving through, thinking of what Henry Morton did there and for every remnant of his life’s work to be missing in time. He lives on with us Limbertwig growers though. I take a little pride in that. Made some memories with my wife and kids though and that will be with me forever.
Hopefully they can do some apple ciders with those on the ground.
Awesome. Thanks for posting. I’m living vicariously through your trip. Really wanted to go this year myself. Maybe next year.
This is a very very cool post! Awesome to see such a beautiful orchard! Can’t wait for my farm to get large enough to do tours of worth.
I’ve been there too! I was hoping for music when I went, but they didn’t play that weekend.
Glad you had a good trip!
Looks like an heirloom apple addict’s dream. Thanks for sharing.
Great post. I’ve always wanted to go see David, and your post
has definitely made up my mind for next year. Thanks
These were just a few pics my wife took but that tree my young son is picking from is his one and only Brogan. He said it was about 25 years old on some unknown interstem he did. Not a very big tree but for its size the yield from that tree was unbelievable. Even David said he doesn’t think it’s ever been so loaded. I filled a bag with about 10 pounds of apples before that picture and it didn’t even make a dent. Pretty impressive and very tasty apple. Glad your growing it because I don’t think there is too many in existence.
I had always wondered how the Brogan apple actually tasted. No one I have known has actually tasted this apple. Sounds like it is good enough to try. I had been looking at trying to get this apple in my orchard for years.
Great photos and sounds like you had a great time there. I have been trying to get to his farm during his open house events.
I have purchased most of my orchard trees from him over the years. Always very good nursery stock.
My Brogan apple. Just two small apples on a 3 year old limb graft so just a small sample but I was definitely impressed with the taste. My 4 year old tree from David on MM111 rootstock like all my trees was hit hard by the Cicadas last year so may take a few years to recover and bear fruit. But I feel it’s definitely a tree on the edge of extinction that needs to be saved.
Thank you for posting about your trip! David is a very nice guy with a wealth of info! I purchased the following apples from CFO in 2019 (mainly for deer but also for myself): Liberty, Enterprise, Old Fashioned Winesap, Arkansas Black, Yates, and Keener Seedling. I also got a few pears including Plumblee which I’m highly anticipating trying.
That’s good to hear about Keener Seedling. I was wondering what that might taste like. I got the first apple from Arkansas Black this year (the critters got Liberty). I intended to store before eating but my daughter got anxious. It was extra firm as I picked early but I’m sure it will be a good apple with storage.
I wish I could go down to visit that orchard. Here our hard overnight frost started October the 10th, with steady frost overnight starting the 16th. By now we have seen temperatures dipping into the single digits although we are back to a more seasonably dips above 32f. All my trees are sleeping the sleep of the seasons.
Honestly by now we just hope it dips bellow freezing and stay that way until April. Things warming up half way is what messes everything up, from the roads to the plants to the snow coverage needed to keep them protected.
My trees from David on MM111–Virginia Beauty, summer banana, Johnson’s keeper, Hudson’s golden gem, Dula Beauty, Bevan’s favorite, old fashioned LT, Hubbardston non such, hollow log, Newtown Pippin, Virginia Gold, Aunt Rachel. I’ve been very pleased with them.
I was able to talk to Lee Calhoun and have him sign my southern apples book at David’s, so that will always have a special place in my memory.
Yes thanks for the pictures and report! I also have several trees from him.
Glad to hear you liked the Brushy Mt. LT so much, my tree keeps getting all fruit stolen but I’ll try harder to protect it next year! That one also did really well in some west coast taste test so it seems like it is the best of the 'twigs. This year I got some great Black Limbertwigs and a few good Kentucky Limbertwigs.
we used to get a feb thaw here but the winters are seemingly getting more severe, temps and snow wise. it had been over 23 years since we saw -40f and we hit it 3xs. last winter breaking all time daily records for those dates. it was near impossible to icefish outside between the cold and the deep snow causing slush conditions on the lakes. our snow is so deep, even with thaws, everything stays good and dormant.
I grow many of these except hollow log. Have any of them fruited for you yet?
I really liked all the limbertwigs I tried. I can’t say I could detect any type of different or peculiar flavors though. Just dang good apples. Brushy stood out because of how firm it was. It was almost as firm as an Arkansas Black. That was also right of the tree so I’m sure it would lose some of that in storage. But the flavors to me were perfect. Juicy, sweet and tangy. If I find a better apple I’ll be really impressed. Stayman is no longer at the top of my list.
Here in northern AZ Arkansas Black is its typical hard crunchy self but it develops a wonderful sweet flavor and only mild acidity. One of my favorite apples. It never reaches storage. As far as Keener Seedling I really liked it. Sweet and tart both. Very crispy like an Asian pear and not very juicy. Different from any apple I’ve tried other than Hudson’s golden gem. That apple is almost indistinguishable from a pear. I was amazed. Even my wife said how can that be an apple?
Now you’ve got me really hoping some of my Limbertwigs will finally fruit.
Stayman is what we’ve historically bought a bushel or two of and eat over the winter…
Not yet. I think I got it for an early variety. It’s only a 2 year old tree so it will be a while.