“ I have never before, in my long and eclectic career, been gifted with such an abundance of natural beauty as I experienced filming War Horse on Dartmoor.” Steven Spielberg.

The Garden House, Devon Gardener’s World’s Toby Buckland plants new ‘Pilgrim 400’ apple to mark Mayflower 400 Anniversary

Garden expert and TV presenter, Toby Buckland planted a historic ‘Pilgrim Apple’ on September 27th at The Garden House, in Buckland Monachorum, Devon, to commemorate the Pilgrim’s journey 400 years ago.

The Gardener’s World presenter was joined at the planting by Celia Steven, who developed the new plant and Garden House trustees, Rachel Watson, Marketing Director of Riverford Organic and Manfy Robinson, owner of the Drake Manor public house as well as the public and friends of The Garden House.

The ‘Pilgrim 400’ apple was born out of a conversation between two friends, Celia Steven and John Stirland. Celia is the great granddaughter of Henry Merryweather, the nurseryman who raised the Bramley apple, and she lives very near The Garden House, outside Plymouth, Devon. John Stirland is a horticulturist and a former presenter with Radio Nottingham and he lives in a village near the area where some of the Pilgrims came from. In 2015, they heard about plans to mark the 400th anniversary of the Mayflower’s epic voyage and decided to find a new apple tree that could be named for the occasion. They already knew that apples were extremely important in the lives of the early colonists. They appealed for a unique apple that could be named and having found one, in 2018 ‘Pilgrim 400’ officially registered as a Local Cultivar.

As Celia lived nearby, she was keen to plant a Pilgrim Apple at The Garden House to mark Mayflower 400. After donating a plant for free and she was delighted when Garden House fan, TV presenter Toby Buckland agreed to plant it to commemorate the moment . Toby has long been a fan of The Garden House and calls it ‘one of the finest gardens in England’.

“We were hugely excited at the opportunity to mark Mayflower with this very special plant and also to welcome Toby Buckland to The Garden House for the planting ceremony,” said Karen Willcocks, Visitor Services Manager. “We do hope people will visit us to see the historic plant in the garden.”

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