Cheshire Life gardening columnist Jacqui Brocklehurst does not mourn the arrival of winter

Jacqui Brocklehurst

Jacqui Brocklehurst - Credit: Archant

For everything there is a season

It’s only natural that us gardeners are keenly aware of the changing seasons and the trials, tribulations and joy they bring.

I lead a somewhat ecclesiastical lifestyle and agree that there is a time for every activity under the heavens. There is a time to plant and a time to harvest and this year’s harvest is in and it’s been a bountiful year.

We have had a bumper crop of apples this autumn, so many in fact that we were able to dust off the fruit press and attempt to make our own cider. We started well, pulpy apples produced a constant flow of sweet, golden juice, so delicious we drank it all before it even got to the brewing stage. Ah well, maybe next year.

The pears too were prolific, so heavy and ripe they snapped branches off the tree. I really should have thinned the fruit early in the season. I, wrongly, assumed Mother Nature would lend a hand and windfall would see enough of them off to make it bearable for the tree to support the remaining fruit, but no. With so little to do in the garden I will spend January making a support for the pear and a couple of apple trees I have recently planted.

Trained fruit trees are a fantastic method of growing fruit in a small garden. They can be fan trained or espaliered onto existing fences or walls, or trained onto wire supports running along pathways. These methods keep the fruit trees restricted and make harvesting a pleasure. In spring they produce beautiful blossoms, in autumn abundant fruit. In winter they add structure to the garden, an invaluable element of design.

The best time to plant fruit trees is between October and February when they are dormant. This gives the trees a chance to settle before the growing season. Choose a mild day to plant, avoiding snow and ice, dig a hole large enough for the roots and add a handful of bonemeal.

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Plant the tree and backfill, firming well to keep the tree stable. Remember to support newly planted trees with a stake and ties to avoid wind damage in the first couple of years.

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