Born to become free

Metro

With its gnarled, straggling branches propped up by planks of wood, this tree may not strike you as the apple-grower’s idea of heaven.

It has taken 20 years of care, love and attention and now this 6m (20ft) garden marvel has as many varieties of the fruit as a vast orchard.

Paul Barnett has grafted 250 types of apple tree on to the trunk. He now has so many choices of eating, cooking and cider apple, he has to label the boughs to remind himself which are which.

‘I started working at a nursery with acres of land and around 90 varieties of apple trees in rows,’ said the 40-year-old, of Chidham, West Sussex.

‘I wanted to grow my own trees but I didn’t have the area to plant that number so I started my “family tree”. I add to it each year by budding in the summer and grafting…

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