Our mentor, Lee Calhoun, writes about Ensee in his first edition of Old Southern Apples (1995); “This name is so obviously a phonetic rendering of the letters ‘N C’ that I felt sure it was a North Carolina apple.” As it turned out, this was not the case. Additional research showed Ensee originated from a seed of Rome Beauty planted around 1880 in Lawrence County, Ohio, on the farm of Nelson Cox. The letters “N C” thus stand for Nelson Cox, not North Carolina.

Although the apple did not originate in North Carolina, it was sold by a North Carolina nursery in the early 1900’s. The apple is a fine cooking and stewing apple as sliced pieces retain their shape. The fruit is typically produced in clusters on terminal buds and requires significant thinning in order to produce sizable apples.

Fruit is large, roundish with a slightly flattened appearance. Skin is smooth, pale yellow and flushed with reddish-orange and streaks of crimson. The aromatic yellow flesh is firm, coarse and moderately juicy with a pleasant subacid flavor. Ripens in October and keeps well into March. The flavor improves after a couple of months in cold storage.

  1. John Larrison
    John Larrison12-06-2014

    To whomever reads this,

    I have done some grafting of pear trees for the last 20 years. During Christmas break of 2013, I was looking online for a source of apple rootstocks and ran across their website. I was so intrigued and impressed, that I spent days reading every word of every apple description. I selected several for custom grafting. I was also so impressed that we visited Ron and Suzanne last summer at their farm. Ron and Suzanne sent our tree order recently and I was again more than impressed. The trees were premium quality with root systems that would shame any commercial tree producer’s apple trees.

    You must know that Ron and Suzanne along with their creation of Big Horse Creek Farm are National Treasures. It is almost incomprehensible to imagine the hard work and dedication that they have given this project of pure love. The extensive collection leaves a person in absolute awe. The genuine admiration that they give each apple tree on their farm and that they produce is incredible.

    Thank You Ron and Suzanne for the vision you had decades ago and for the endless hours you have spent in its creation. I believe you are the two most amazing people I have ever known!!

    Most Sincerely,

    John Larrison

    • Ron Joyner
      Ron Joyner12-10-2014

      We first met John when he and his lovely wife, Janice, drove all the way from Kansas to visit us on a beautiful warm afternoon last summer. John had been following our work for sometime and was keenly interested in visiting in person to see what Big Horse Creek Farm was all about. We had several phone conversations and numerous email correspondences where we slowly got to know each other and explored our mutual interests in farming, horticultural and American history. John is a joyful soul and his enthusiasm and energy are infectious. Within minutes after their arrival last year we immediately established strong bonds of friendship and camaraderie. John and Janice are warm, gentle people and we thoroughly enjoyed their brief visit with us. We have continued to keep in touch and look forward to the day when we can visit together again.

      We are very humbled and honored by John’s kind words. While we are probably undeserving of such high praise, we are very grateful for his generosity and greatly appreciate his recognition of the dedication and hard work we have put forth to make Big Horse Creek Farm a commercial success. It is a sad and unfortunate fact that farmers are rarely recognized for the hard work and long hours they endure to ensure you have fresh food on your dinner table. John and Janice are exceptional people who DO understand the difficulties and challenges facing farmers and, with a kind heart, a hearty handshake and a warm embrace, will take the time and effort to express their gratitude and respect for us and all American farmers.

      As we look forward to 2015 when we celebrate the 30th anniversary of Big Horse Creek Farm, we take a moment to extend our deepest thanks to John and Janice and ALL the good people who have called and written over the last 30 years to share their thoughts and express their gratitude for our work in preserving American heritage apples. As I have said on many occasions, ours is a special labor of love, for we truly enjoy what we do. One of the greatest rewards and compliments we can receive is when dear people like John and Janice take the time to say “Hi” and “Thanks for what you do!”

      Our best wishes to all for a very Happy Holiday Season.


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