wall-trained or shaped, an apple tree brings blossom,
shade and fruit to any sized garden. For Rosemary Verey
they're an absolute must.
A new project is always exciting. Whether you have a
large garden or are blessed with a pocket-handkerchief
patch, be sure you have an apple tree.
In a terrace town garden you will want a tree for structure
and shade. A standard apple on a 3.5ft stem will do
this, with a spring display of blossom, summer shade
and an autumn bounty of fruit.
In a slightly larger, longer garden, you can be more
ambitious and make a division between your sitting area
and where you perhaps plan to grow vegetables. Apple
are ideal for this.
How sensible that the word espalier is derived from
the Italian spalliera, to shoulder, then via
the French espalliere, a shoulder piece. In fact,
branches growing horizontally are supported (or shouldered)
by wires held in place by vertical posts or a frame.
The frame can be against a wall where the trees will
receive the full benefit of the sun's warmth. But against
a wall the frost cannot readily escape and growing free-standing
the frost will move on; remember that cold air moves
Here at Barnsley
I have adapted the lessons I learnt at the Potager du
Roi at Versailles,
where de la Quntinye (who died in 1700) supplied King
Louis XIV with fresh fruit every day for his breakfast.
Here I saw single-tier espaliers, which are brilliant
for edging beds in my potager. Highfield Nursery grew
these for me and we called them step-overs. Now they
are available and fashionable. In Monet's
garden they are grown effectively as two-tier espaliers.
From Versailles I also adapted the way of growing fruit
trees in goblet shapes. We found trees with four branches
growing symmetrically from the main trunk and trained
these to grow up stakes, so making goblet shapes. As
they attained the top of the stakes they were bent over
inwards and joined to each other.
You must decide if you want bush trees, pyramids or
even a family tree. This latter will give you three
different varieties. The Royal
Horticultural Society, England autumn show for fruit
and vegetables, which has just been held at London's
Vincent Square, was an eye-opener for me for the number
of apples available - regardless of European restrictions.
There was a memorable display put on by Wisley
with more than a hundred plates of perfect apples all
named. There were displays put on by the fruit growers
society. Thankfully I had my notebook ready, recorded
the winning varieties and was given sound advice by
a successful exhibitor.
With careful choosing
you can have varieties that ripen from late August until
late winter. Some are best eaten as soon as they're
ripe; others improve with keeping. One vital thing is
to reduce the number of fruits in each cluster when
they are small, thus allowing the remaining fruit to
grow to a good size. This is called disbudding.
And I love the names. At the show Howgate Wonder was
noteworthy, its yellow flushed red apples were huge.
They cook well but are also a dessert fruit. James
Grieve is another dual purpose apple, bright red
and green. Laxton's Fortune has fruited well for us
at Barnsley since 1978. It is the first to ripen, enjoy
it at once as it does not keep.
Lamborne is a regular and heavy cropper and a wise
choice for growers in the north. Others I noted for
their appealing colour and handy size for eating - Norfolk
Royal Ruset, Jupiter
and the well-known Bramley.
Outstanding for their colour was the intensely dark-red
Do study the catalogues or even pay a visit to Wisley.
If you are in Paris the Tuileries Palace Garden has
remarkable trained fruit. Discuss with an expert the
importance of pollination,
some apples are self-fertile, others need a correct
pollinator nearby. An early decision to make is what
ultimate size you want your tree and this will depend
on the root stock.
See also the Helping Hands workshops:
and staking a tree
and looking after wall fruit
reprinted with premission from Greenfingers.com