Sunday, 23 January 2011

The Beginning of the End?

Stumbling and blinking I emerge from my lair, lured out of hibernation by the promise of Spring. Course, it's nothing of the no such which, but last week at least was bright and dry so it was time to crack on with pruning the orchard. It makes me feel so happy to be up among the branches  that I think fruit trees must exude some  sort of goodness. They certainly respond to a spot of TLC, seeming to breathe a sigh of relief when you cut out the deadwood and remove the damaged and diseased branches. After you take out ingrowing shoots, making a goblet shape which allows light and air to get in there and prevent blackspot, you step back, admire your handiwork and know you've done a good job.
The younger trees need a bit more encouragement, tipping back the leaders and pruning side shoots to make fruiting spurs. While I'm making all these little decisions I slip into a sort of meditative state, and by the end of the day I'm chilled, sometimes literally, so a cup of tea and a wee bonfire is in order.
This is my favourite job in the entire gardening year.


Kyna said...

I love a wee bonfire :D One of my favourite things to do in life, is sit next to a crackling fire. I also love the word 'wee' a lot.

Paul C said...

You have touched upon a similar appreciation for me. Pruning in the garden is a very focused endeavour, destined to shape a tree or shrub for years into the future.

Barry Parker said...

Hi Isobel,
I'm looking forward to this job also. It's a bit too early a job for my part of the world and so I have time to look out the window and plan my pruning strategy.

Pearl said...

We in Minneapolis are still a good three months away from spring.

I cannot WAIT for the day I can leave the house without boots...


Is the Wiz said...

Wow, and I thought our Winters were bad! To-day felt really mild, we reached the dizzy heights of 8C. It won't last of course but for this relief much thanks.

Britta said...

Dear Is the Wiz,
I utterly adore you for being able to prune trees!!! You might have read in my old posts that I am not good at it - though I see the necessity and read books about it and went to a practical course. So you can really be proud to make such a good work! I ungrudgingly acknowledge your handicraft - "wish you were here" Britta

Is the Wiz said...

Dear Britta, My rule of thumb is -
Cut out dead, diseased and damaged wood
Cut out crossing and ingrowing branches
Tip leaders back by one to two thirds, strong shoots need less cut than weak ones
Form fruiting spurs by pruning side shoots to 3-5 buds.
On a badly neglected tree, spread the work over three years.
When removing branches, first make an undercut to stop the bark tearing, and leave the collar, the thick part where a branch leaves the trunk.
Be brave - growth follows the knife.

The Idiot Gardener said...

I have a bay leaf tree to prune before I go away. I figure if I just cut it back hard, that'll do. I once did some coppicing, so I figure trees are hard to kill.

Britta said...

Dear Is the Wiz,
thank you for your advice! That makes sense to me - and is not that radical as some proposals.
By the way: my hairdresser must have read your advice too :-), and pruned my hair to chin length.