It’s apple time…

image

Here at the Scottish Country Garden, there are two major jobs we need to do each year; one is the hedge-cutting, the other – the annual fruit tree pruning. Whereas the first is done by a petrol trimmer, the second task has to be done by hand, with secateurs.image

We do this each autumn once the leaves have fallen off the trees, although it can take quite a few weeks to complete the job, particularly if interrupted by early winter snow-fall.

In the garden we have 82 fruit trees, mostly apples but we have quite a few pears, plums, a greengage and a Morello cherry. With the exception of the cherry, all the trees were here when we arrived, and most of them are very old, probably planted when the walled garden was originally planted in the mid 1800’s. When the walled garden was restored by the previous owners in the 1970’s, the existing stock was augmented by a number of fan-trained and espalier trees.

Most of the fruit trees are on the west-facing and east-facing walls in the walled garden, but the plums mainly live along the south-facing wall. We don’t really prune the plums, and if they do need attention, we do this during the growing season as winter-pruning can expose the cut wood to disease.

As well as 9 full-size traditional free-standing cooking apples, we have 38 pillars – these are single-stem trees where the fruits grow on very short spurs off the main stem. These are all quite old – we call them ‘the old men’, and were clearly planted by the 19th Century gardeners as a space-saving measure. These trees are all quite vigorous and put on about 60-90cm of growth each year.

imageIn the kitchen garden, growing against the south side of the south wall of the garden are further

apple and pear trees. These are mostly grown as fan-trained trees, although we do have a number of espaliers, with their distinctive ‘90-degree’ branches, in the walled garden to offer contrast.

All the trees extend to the full height of our 10’ walls but we don’t allow them to get any taller. Most can be reached by ladder, but for the larger ‘cookers’, we have a long-handled lopper which is a marvellous invention, although it does require a steady hand!

May is a marvellous month here with a succession of scented pink and white blossom set against the fresh ‘apple-green’ foliage and illuminating the walls for much of the month. While the blossom was quite good this year, in common with many commercial fruit-growers in the UK, the apple crop here was extremely poor as a result of a succession of late frosts hitting the blooms. Some of our trees are quirky fruiters at the best of time, but this year very few pears and apples made it to the kitchen table!

Advertisements
This entry was posted in The Walled Garden and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

15 Responses to It’s apple time…

  1. Pingback: Up the apples and pears! | The Scottish Country Garden

  2. Huge annual chore, yet dramatic and memorable. Glad to learn you harvest some for the table. All work and no fruit make Jack a dull boy! 😉

    Like

  3. Pingback: From snow to snowdrop… | The Scottish Country Garden

  4. Love your blog. Incredible beauty here.

    Like

  5. Love your apple trees. I wish I could grow them here. Makes me feel rather homesick looking at your beautiful garden. Love the big evergreen trees which have been cut down and now look like tables.
    🙂

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s