Choosing an apple tree for the garden
You might hope that summer will last forever now that August is in full swing. But as none of us in the real world have a 'time-turning machine',
it's unlikely that it will do so. So this is a great moment for you to get excited about having fruit trees
such as apples in the garden. Apple trees for the garden are readily available and very easy to organise. In fact, growing fruit on trees is really very rewarding!
There are trees for small gardens specially trained to a restricted shape
. Choosing a tree that has been pruned to a cordon,
shape means that it will require very little height or space.
There's an apple or pear tree to suit every garden, however large or small.
Planting fruit trees
right now isn't a great idea because they are growing at such a fast rate. It is, however, a good time for you to decide what you might like and where you could put it. Wait until October onwards for the optimum planting time and always avoid planting in frozen ground. You see, there is always a good reason to look forward to different seasons!
There's a reason to celebrate every season. Spring, summer, autumn, winter all have their own special joy.
There's oodles of choice when it comes to fruit tree selection
for a garden. Firstly, you might want to choose trouble-free varieties of apple trees. You probably want low-maintenance, self-fertile
apple trees. Then there will be no need to worry about pollination partners for a good crop. What you will hope to achieve is maximum fruit for minimum labour. Who wouldnt want this?
An apple tree makes a great investment. Plant in autumn and you can be enjoying your first small crop of fruit next year.
Did you know?
is viewed as the birthplace of all apples! Malus sieversii is the wild apple that grows on the mountain slopes of Central Asia. Modern genetics testing has shown the domestic apple to be closely related.
Still standing in a garden in Southwell, Nottinghamshire is the mother of all Bramley apple trees. Planted more than 200 years ago, the tree was named after the owner of the house and garden, Matthew Bramley. The roots of every modern Bramley can be traced back to this tree which is now sadly suffering from honey fungus
There are around 2,300 varieties of apple growing in the orchards of the National Fruit Collection
at Brogdale Farm, near Faversham in Kent.
At least 250 different varieties of apple are growing on just one tree in Chichester, West Sussex! Owner Paul Barnett has been grafting more apple varieties onto his tree for the last 25 winters!
Herbalists have used the bark of apple trees as both a tonic and a stimulant. It contains a substance called phlorizin which is used in some modern medicine.
One of the nations favourite apples is the Cox, bred in the 1820s by Richard Cox near Heathrow. It has been used as the basis for many different hybrids which provide reliability, disease-resistance and excellent flavour.
A Cox hybrid apple tree called Sunset is deemed to be one of the best apples for growing in small gardens.
People generally buy what supermarkets dictate. Few people seek out the specialist farm shops or the farmers markets. We tend to buy whats put in front of us.
Coming only recently to the apple palette is another popular apple, the Gala. First grown in New Zealand in 1934, it originated from a Kidds Orange Red which was crossed with Golden Delicious. Arriving in Britain in the 1980s, the resulting hybrid
is now one of the most frequently purchased.
The time from planting an apple tree to cropping is estimated to be just two years. The best yields come after five years.
Apple trees pruned to fit the space available
The simplest shape of an apple or fruit tree for a small garden is probably a cordon. Pruned into a traditional tree shape with a clear stem and a crown, it is the short side shoots that bear fruit. Trained at an angle of 45 degrees, this popular pruning shape is highly successful. It can also be trained vertically (often called minarette
) or horizontally as a stepover.
A cordon pruned fruit tree is easy to maintain. And it looks great too.
Luscious apples growing on this minarette tree.
A tree that has been trained into a stepover shape can literally be 'stepped over'. This forms a great barrier or tiny hedge and it is fruitful too. It's easy to maintain and good to look at too.
Planting espalier fruit trees on a wall or fence is a great way to achieve savings in space. The side shoots should be trained by tying them back to supporting wires.
You can make good use of a fence or wall by planting espalier trained apple or pear trees. Trees pruned to this shape take up very little space. Prune regularly to keep them neat.
Summer pruning will be required in order to keep the shape of an espalier apple tree. Pruning is best carried out around the third week in August when new shoots should be cut back. This allows light and warmth to reach the fruit.
Light and warmth are important for apples. Pruning off the unnecessary growth allows fruit to ripen.