Chidham apple grower shoots to national fame

Paul Barnett, 41, with his 250-variety apple tree in Chidham
Paul Barnett, 41, with his 250-variety apple tree in Chidham

INTERNATIONAL attention has been focused on Chidham – as an apple grower’s hard graft is recognised.

Paul Barnett, 41, of Chidham Lane, has spent years cultivating an apple tree which has 250 varieties of apple on it.

In the last few days, he has been featured in national newspapers, appeared on the radio and even been contacted by Russian broadcasters about his tree.

He said he wanted all the different varieties in his garden, but did not have enough space for all the trees.

“I had the idea of putting them all on the one tree,” he said.

Mr Barnett used to work at the former Brinkman’s Nurseries, in Bosham, which had 90 different varieties. He was able to add varieties from these trees onto his own.

He also had a tree in his garden which had several different types on it.

“Over time, it got grown in and lost its light and died.

“All that was transferred to the one on the lawn.”

Since then, the 24-year project has seen Paul add more and more varieties – with its reputation now blossoming all over the world.

He said he was astonished by the sudden media attention his work was getting.

He has exhibited at the West Dean’s Apple Affair for the last decade, and will be at Grow! Cook! Eat! this weekend. He will also be attending an event in Slindon Village Hall the following weekend.

Mr Barnett, who studied at Chichester College’s Brinsbury Campus and went to Chidham Primary School, said this year had marked a very good year for apple growing.

“Certainly this year it’s a brilliant year for apples,” he said.

“The spring weather was conducive to bees flying so the apples got pollinated.

“Fruit trees need a certain amount of winter chilling every year to bring the best out of them and we had a very cold winter.

“Also in the summer we’ve not had the rain – rain can bring diseases.”

The tree now has some extremely rare varieties on it, such as Coxstone, Elecktra And Morganrot, but Mr Barnett said Polly Prosser was one of his favourites, with a ‘lovely’ flavour.