Archive for the ‘orchards’ Category

Orchard update – Shepton Mallet

Wednesday, April 27th, 2011

The orchard is looking beautiful, the new trees are flowering,  the grass is growing, the trees are watered and mulched.   Whilst I look on with pride,  the Somerset aphid population, powerdy mildew and winter moths have silently moved in too.  So lesson number two when starting an orchard  “once you see the pest it is probably too late!”

My knowledge of pests and diseases is being tested!

Orchard & vegetable growing

Sunday, March 27th, 2011

I am growing my MM106 grafted fruit trees at 4m spacings in row and 5m between rows.  The rows are kept weed free and I am growing vegetables in some of the rows as are friends!

It was a weekend of mulching with muck, fencing and planting.

Pruning fruit trees

Thursday, February 3rd, 2011

Shepton Mallet Horticultural Society were treated to me talking about the winter pruning of apple trees!  A short presentation about “knowing your buds” and “understanding what is a good strong shape” was followed by an interactive session pruning two apple trees that I took in.  Pub staff were entertained by us ‘crazy gardeners’ carrying apple trees about in the dark whilst the small group of keen gardeners who attended, went home sure of the difference between fat flower buds and flat leafy buds; aware of competing leaders, wedge cuts, tapered leaders, bending down branches to encourage fruiting…

Planting the orchard – Shepton Mallet

Monday, December 6th, 2010

I used to tell my students that even the most experienced gardener will not know everything, in our business there is always something new to learn.  Our seasons are becoming increasingly unpredictable and right now the heavens seem to have forgotten that it is planting time and I didn’t check the weather forecast before collecting my 160 bare root apple trees.  So there is my new lesson!

Planting conditions are far from perfect at the moment however despite the frozen crust I have managed to plant 70 of my trees.  Keeping the frozen soil separate, the ground beneath is moist and thawed.  I am using mycorrhiza around the roots and securing the trees with short hardwood stakes.  My rows face North – South and I am positioning the strongest root towards the North (ref: The Apple Grower: a guide to the organic orchadist; Michael Phillips) as this is how they would probably have been growing on the nursery 10 days ago.

Apple pruning – Gloucestershire

Monday, February 22nd, 2010

Formative pruning of apple trees - when apple trees are this young it is important to prune for strength, spacing of branches and formation of apple spurs.

pruning gang

Chelsea inspired garden – Gloucestershire

Monday, August 17th, 2009

This is a lovely site attached to a large country house with a swimming pool and horse stables however the budget was quite tight given the scale of the project.  At Chelsea this year I was inspired by the planting in one of the borders in Luciano Giubbilei’s Laurent Perrier garden: the rich burgundy reds, deep blues and feathery fennel.  In this project, close to the house, I used Astrantia ‘Claret’, A. ‘Hadspen Blood’, Salvia carrodona, Paeonia ‘Buckeye Belle’, Papaver ‘Manhattan’, Cirsium atropurpureum, deep blue iris and bronze fennel set amongst box cubes to a similar effect.  I particularly love the large cupped, burgundy flowers of the poppy and paeony so delicate and short lived, the veils of filligree fennel and the solid green box cubes which dominate through out the winter months.


The garden was almost a blank canvas, I used a large pergola and avenues of planting to create a formal layout subdivided into areas that flow from one to the other.  The garden is laid out on a new axis to draw the eye away from the boundary fence and into the garden.  I used a grid framework of longer grass as a low cost solution to creating structure, these will be planted with bold blocks of Narcissus poeticus.

plan  planting plan 1 of 5