Journal of a rose gardener 24/02/17
There is something incredibly satisfying about collecting produce from your own garden. In addition to the vegetable patch which is underway at Country Garden Plant Centre, we are introducing a number of fruit trees into the garden. We will also be stocking a selection of fruit trees for sale as well as some beautiful ornamentals. This week in the journal we will concentrate on the fruit trees.
Apple-Cox Orange Pippin M106
These are dessert apples which can also be used for cooking and have been awarded the RHS Award of Garden Merit. They were first grown in the UK in 1830 in Buckinghamshire by a horticulturalist named Richard Cox. They are a mid to late season variety and will grow in a wide range of soils. The tree is self-fertile, and grows to a maximum 3 - 4m x 4m.
We will also have in stock Apple Egremont Russet, Apple Falstaff, Apple Scrumptious, Apple-Spartan Stock and Apple-Worcester Pearmain, Malus Pink, Malus Red Sentinel, Malus White Star.
Pear ‘Conference’ Quince root stock
First introduced in Sawbridgeworth, England in the late 19th century, this is one of Britain’s most popular dessert pears, which can also be used in cooking. With masses of white flowers adorning the branches, it is partially self-fertile, but will benefit from another pollinator to increase yield. It grows to 13ft and will produce late on in the season.
A large dessert and cooking plum with an RHS AGM. The fruits must be left to fully ripen to use as a dessert plum. It is an early variety with beautiful white blossom and is very reliable as it has a good frost resistance and so can be grown in less than perfect conditions. It is self-fertile, with an upright growth habit and grows to 14ft.
We will also have in stock Plum Majories Seedling and Plum-Victoria.
Medlars, despite their unusual and slightly exotic appearance, are in fact a European native. They have been grown for centuries and are a traditional winter treat. The fruit must be left on the tree or picked and left to the elements to ‘blet’ for a few weeks before eating. The flesh should be brown and soft with a sweet flavour similar to apple or pear sauce.
The tree itself will grow to 12-15ft if left unpruned. However it can be kept in check at 6-8ft with pruning. It is self-fertile and the white blossom will appear in late spring to early summer. Well worth growing for its ornamental value alone.
Although considered an ornamental this can be grown for its delicious berries. The blossom, which smothers the branches in early spring will turn to glorious red/purple fruits in June. Hence the common name of June Berry. Be quick to harvest before the birds descend and gobble them all up! You can eat the berries straight from the plant or use them to make an unusual jam.
Aside from the fruit the leaves are also spectacular, turning shades of red, copper and orange. Will grow 14ft in 10-20 years if left to its own devices. But you can prune in winter to keep growth in check. Grow in full sun for the best autumn colour.
Choosing a fruit tree
When choosing a fruit tree, apart from the fruit itself, you need to consider:
• What size will it be at maturity? If you have a small garden you might want to choose a dwarf variety. The size of a fruit tree is dictated by the rootstock onto which the tree is grafted (i.e. M27 extremely dwarfing, M9 very dwarfing, M26 dwarfing, MM106 semi-dwarfing, MM111 & M2 vigorous).
• Is the tree self-pollinating, or does it require another pollinating partner? A self-fertilizing tree is a space saver in a small garden. If there is another tree nearby, that may provide the pollination that is needed so there isn’t always the necessity to plant two in your own garden.
This year we will be selling container grown fruit trees. The benefit of a container grown tree over a bare root tree is that planting can be delayed by a few weeks, and the tree can be planted out any time (avoiding hard frosts and excessively wet weather) before June. If you plant after June then deep watering will be required at least once a week during the summer months.
Choose a site which is sunny and sheltered from the wind.
Water the tree before planting. Dig a hole approximately one third wider than the roots, fill the hole with water and allow to drain. This will give you a good indication of how well your soil drains and therefore how often you will need to water. Place the tree in the hole and backfill with compost. Ensuring that the soil level is below the graft. Firm the soil around the tree with the heel of your boot to ensure that it does not uproot itself.
It is advisable to provide a stake support for young trees, to prevent root rock damage in high winds. Depending on how rural your garden is, you may also need to place a protective netting around the trunk to prevent animals from damaging the bark.