Amanda’s good pruning guide

9 Jul
A young plum fan with slate label

Work-in-progress: A young plum fan

If you have apples or pears trained against your garden walls, now’s the time to prune them. Amanda would normally be setting to with her secateurs, but this year she’s going back to square one and training the actual espaliers.

At the end of 2009 our lovely walled garden was turned into a swimming pool by the great flood of Cockermouth. As a result of all the damage to the brickwork, we lost our Victorian espaliers. This created an opportunity to replace them with varieties that would have been available in the late Georgian period.

The only downside to this rain/flood cloud’s silver lining was that 18th-century varieties aren’t generally available ready-espaliered, so Amanda is learning on the job, teaching herself how to espalier apples and pears and to fan plums and cherries.

For those who have established espaliers, step one in Amanda’s good pruning guide is to get your secateurs sharpened.

She then recommends starting on the main arms, pruning all the new laterals to just three leaves above the basal clusters and completely removing any over-vigorous upright shoots. Next, turn your attention to side shoots, reducing them to one leaf. Simples, as my friend Aleksandr Orlov, the TV meerkat, would say!

By the way, did you know that the word “secateurs” comes from the Latin verb to cut, secare. And the exact definition of an “espalier” is a plant trained around a central trunk, with tiers of branches growing out horizontally on either side.

Sadly, a perchcrow of little brain does not know such things – I had to ask Amanda. And in return for this information, she said I had to include a picture of her rose campion, for no other reason than that it’s beautiful at the moment!

Rose campion

Blooming lovely: Rose campion

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