Time seems to have been flying recently. I look forward to pruning the trees and fruit bushes in the garden but all of a sudden it seems like there are only a couple of weekends left before March. I ended up pruning the currant and gooseberry bushes in mid-Feb and then the trees the next weekend. The weather has been cold, but not too cold, so hopefully the plants will be fine. I like to record the pruning process so that I can look back and see what effect it has had.
The worcesterberry grew like mad last year and looks as though it will make a good sized bush. The new whitecurrant had also grown strongly. The other red and whitecurrants had done ok, but some of the growth didn't look terribly healthy so I pruned them back quite hard.
All of the gooseberries in the garden are grown as cordons so they are easy to prune. They haven't been terribly productive so far, but they are starting to develop a decent set of fruit buds. Maybe this year I'll get enough to make a pudding out of.
I take a bit more time over the apple tree pruning. It always makes me nervous as it is such a final process. The Redsleeves apple is being grown as a bush. It has grown really well this year so there was a fair amount of wood to remove to keep it open in the centre.
There are two apple trees in the garden that are being grown as full standards, a Court of Wick and a Tydeman's Late Orange. The Court of Wick is doing ok, but gets a little less light and is on a different rootstock (MM111). The Tydeman's Late Orange isn't shaded at all and is growing on MM106 and is growing more strongly. I'm leaving some of the lower branches on to help thicken the trunk up. When the trunk is thick enough I will remove some or all of these. I had a disaster whilst pruning the upper branches. I pulled down one of the branches to prune the leader and the whole thing snapped at the base! I tidied up as best I could but it will almost certainly change the final shape of the tree. Lesson learnt - don't try to bend branches in cold weather. Hopefully the tree will be fine, although I saw one of my cats climbing the tree today and he looked as though he might do more damage than me.
Last winter I cut down the large Leylandii trees at the end of the garden. I shredded most of the cuttings at the time, but was left with a large pile that I never got around to sorting out. Since then they had started to rot down where I left them. I recently cleared them up - shredded some for mulch and saved the stems for firewood. It left me with a small patch free to plant.
The area is behind the sour cherry tree so gets some shade and is close to the kids climbing frame so gets some foot traffic. I decided to expand the shrub layer and also add an extra tree. Inspired by Martin Crawford's garden at the Agroforestry Research Trust, I chose a small-leaved lime (Tilia cordata) to go in the middle. These trees have edible leaves and at ART the tree is pollarded to keep the size manageable. I will probably do something similar, although it will be a while before it needs cutting.
For the shrub layer I planted an Aronia berry (chokeberry Aronia melanocarpa), a jostaberry (Ribes x culverwellii), a whitecurrant (Blanka) and three raspberries (Glen Moy Rubus idaeus). I plan to let the raspberries spread across the area as they grow.
In between the plants I have left some of the composed Leylandii as a rough mulch. I plan to carry on planting in between with ground covers later in the year. Whilst I was planting I also dug up one of the sorrel plants in the garden and split it. It was hard work splitting the roots as they were pretty tangled, but eventually I got two good sized pieces and a third smaller one. Hopefully they will all survive.