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Diary

13/03/2011
Planting frenzy

After the long and bitter cold of winter, Spring is just around the corner.   But we have had so much to put in, and have been awaiting deliveries from three different nurseries for so long, that it has been a real rush to get everything in before the warm weather finally arrives.  Most of the new plantings are bare rooted trees, so they need to be in during the dormant season, which is now.  Already the primroses are blooming profusely on the bank, and the roses are coming into leaf.

Five fruiting cherries along the drive, five apple trees along the hedge side of the fruit garden, three copper beeches along the hedge line, a big magnolia just inside the gate, blackcurrants and raspberries, sweet chestnuts and cornus kousa.  But now we are on the last lap, with three sweet chestnut trees delivered on Friday, which will go in on Monday, though presently they are heeled in in the greenhouse.  There may still be frost in the morning, as the skies are clear tonight.

Today I pruned all the roses, as best as I could, but it always makes me nervous and worried that I am doing the wrong thing; too much or too little?  too close to a bud or too far away?  take out whole branches or leave them, even if they cross?  And should I prune the new cherry and apple trees that were planted last week.  They are half standards, which is quite big for garden fruit trees, and the Fruit Expert has diagrams showing what should be done for both bushes and standards, but I am not entirely convinced.  Might it not be better just to let Nature take its course and see what happens?  Unfortunately I did that with a plum tree in the Chester garden and it grew into a very strange thing, all leggy and peculiar.  So that wasn't right either.  The difficult is that you do it once and only see the results some years later.  Equally I once had a Morello cherry tree, and looked after it like a baby; I fed it, pruned it, covered it in fleece when it was chilly, and despite all this, it did not thrive.  Then I visited a friend in London, who also had a Morello cherry, heavily laden with fruit.  When asked how she did it, she said she just completely ignored it!  How unfair is that?

Between those two examples the right path must lie, but I don't know what it is.  Desperation suggests seeking advice from the local nursery.  Let's see what they suggest.



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