SOME of Worcestershire's rarest apple varieties are being restored to the county through a pioneering fruit growing programme.

The Three Counties Orchard Project has been working with volunteers and local orchard owners in the Teme Valley, Vale of Evesham and the parishes of Alfrick and Suckley to restore varieties which were believed to have been lost from the area for decades.

Wade Muggleton of the Three Counties Orchard Project said: "It's great to be able to return these historical varieties to their place of origin. A lot of investigation into these varieties was carried out by our local apple group and planting these trees is bringing it all to fruition. They really are back where they belong."

Among the varieties being restored to the area are: The Dewdulip Seedling, now grown especially for the project by Walcot Nursery of Drake's Broughton; Haughty's Red, a mid-season red eating apple originated in Kyre near Tenbury Wells in the early 1900's and was also seemingly lost; Queen Alexandra, a red cooking apple was first exhibited in 1902 from Madresfield, near Malvern; while Jones's Seedling is perhaps Worcestershire's rarest apple, an early season red eater from the Tenbury area that was rediscovered in 2013 by the Teme Valley Apple group as one very ancient tree in St Michaels from which grafts were taken to produce new trees.

To celebrate National Tree week volunteers planted young trees of these varieties at orchards in Hanley William, Eastham, Alfrick, and Norton and Lenchwick.

The Three Counties Orchard Project is a three year Heritage Lottery Funded project which aims to highlight the value of traditional orchards which were once such a large part of the Worcestershire landscape, by enthusing the public, training up volunteers in orchard skills and re planting these local fruit trees. A small number of these incredibly rare varieties are available to purchase from or by phoning 01905 841587.