The Granny Smith Apple had it’s origin in an orchard, only a few miles from my childhood home in Epping, in North Road, close to it’s intersection with Lovell Road, on the boundaries of Eastwood, Eastwood Heights and East Denistone.
Maria Ann Smith arrived in Australia with her husband Thomas in 1830 aged 30.
She had already three children when they established their family home and orchard in North Road.
Maria would to on to conceive another 13 children!
Maria was the driving wheel of her family and when her fruiting trees were in season and bearing and there were sufficient vegetables and eggs from her fowls she would take a store at the City Markets.
There, she would often buy further fruit and take it home for family use.
It was on one such occasion that Maria bought a case of French Crab apples from Tasmania.
On finding the last of these in the case had gone bad, she tipped them out down by the creek course that ran through the family property.
From seed that germinated a new fruit tree grew up along the creek course.
Mrs Smith knew that this was not a French Crab apple and distinctively different to any other apple she had seen.
Mrs Smith recognised she had something that was very special, but now she required her new apple variety to be recognised and authenticated.
In 1868 she called in Mr EH Small a local orchardist and horticulturist to give his opinion of her seeding apple pass his verdict and identify it as a new variety.
Apples during this period were either categorised as being good for eating raw or those to be used for cooking.
So her new variety was classed as the best cooking apple in Australia.
In 1907 HCL Anderson the Under Secretary of Agriculture, planted further Granny Smith apples on his property at Kingswood.
Much of this fruit became to be hawked around the Penrith/Nepean Valley
District. Local women would always testify to the apple’s quality as a cooking apple.
Word of the apple’s quality soon caught the attention of EK Wolstenholme, the Manager of the Bathurst Orchard Experiment Farm.
Here Wolstenholme planted two Granny Smith’s along with two other apples of every know apple of the day.
His idea was to discover which apples would be suited to growing at altitude in the Central West.
He learnt too that the Granny Smith had a wonderful flavour, was an excellent keeping apple and for storage and was also highly suited to growing in mountain climates.
So impressed was he with the Granny Smith in 1912 he bought land and planted his own trees.
After this period the demand for the apple started to grow.
It was believed during this time that the apple was derived form a cross of the French Crap apple and the Cleopatra.
Orchardist George Hazelwood of Kelso discovered his best Grannies grew in a granite soil where there was a dry summer.
He discovered that trees grown in a richer volcanic soil where there was plenty of rainfall had a different flavour.
George also discovered that fruit grown in a pink granite soil were of a superior quality to those grown in white granite.
During 1918 Hazelwood sold apples to the American Army.
By the 1960s the Granny Smith apple had achieved worldwide acclaim for its beautiful green hue, flavour and keeping quality.
In England it had become the second mot popular selling apple.
There was a huge export market to the UK and Europe.
Maria Ann Smith died in 1870 aged 70 years, her body lies at rest in the St. Anne’s Anglican Churchyard Cemetery Top Ryde.
After her death her property was taken over by two of her sons Charles and William.
- Acknowledgement to History of Epping by Walter Hazelwood