Last year we finished creating “Fruit Avenue” a long border running the length of the garden and which is sixteen metres long and two wide, it really is an avenue. It has a bulbous end named, “Judas Rise” and from above, this border looks like a Santa stocking. However, “finished” in this case meant “ready for planting”. Fruit Avenue spent most of the winter very fruitless and virtually bare. It’s not the fruit-filled cornucopia I want…yet.
This is changing though. Towards the end of last season, a pair of Rhubarb were planted:
- Rhubarb “Victoria”
- Rhubarb “Pink Champage
- To be bought – things should come in threes.
These were put in a shadier and wetter part of the border as these are the conditions they like. They did well in the first year, producing large spreading leaves before going dormant for the winter. Along with the rhubarb were two gooseberries:
- Gooseberry “Pax”
- Gooseberry “Invicta”
- To be bought – things need to be in threes
I’m not a fan of gooseberries but the other-half is, so being the incredibly generous, accepting and dedicated partner that I am, I allowed these in return for an IOU in the form of several Clematis.
For several months that was the total edible composition of Fruit Avenue until mid-winter, when six bare-root trees turned up. There were three plums and three cherries:
- Plum “Cambridge Gage”
- Plum “Victoria”
- Plum ” Opal”
- Cherry “Regina”
- Cherry “Stella”
- Cherry “Merchant”
There is a fair amount of research needed when figuring out the correct fruit trees to buy. You need to think about:
- The root stock, which determines the eventual size and vigorousness
- Hardiness (more important for trees such as peaches and nectarines)
- Variety, which determines a whole manner of things, including taste
- Fruiting time – so you don’t get inundated with tons of fruit at just one time of the year
- Whether the tree is self-fertile, requires a partner (diploid) or requires three partners (triploid, ooh-err)
- If the tree is not self fertile, then other varieties that are compatible with each other
- Overlapping flowering times for trees that are not self fertile (compatible pollination groups)
- Disease and pest resistance
It took me a long time to figure this mess out, even with the help of the internet where by collating the information from several online fruit tree specialists, I was finally able to make sense of all the considerations and actually buy something that might work.
The plums are on a Pixy root stock, giving their eventual size as 2.5 to 3 metres. The cherries are on a Gisella root stock, giving the same eventual size. Of course, the local and soil conditions play a big part in determining not only the eventual size, but also the tree health and fruit yield. The varieties of plums and cherries are not self-fertile or will fruit better with another variety so they were chosen to be compatible with each other but with the fruit ripening at different times of the year (early, mid-season and late).
Not content to stop there, we also bought and recently planted raspberry canes of three varieties:
- Raspberry “Leo”
- Raspberry “Glen Ample”
- Raspberry “Glen Prosen”
With six canes of each variety planted, we’re expecting to be able to pick at least a few raspberries from what’s left after the birds, insects, virus, disease and pests have had their fill. Unfortunately, as these are all summer fruiting raspberries, we won’t be picking anything this year.
Three blue berries have also found their home in Fruit Avenue:
- Blueberry “Sunshine Blue”
- Blueberry “Patriot”
- Blueberry “Bluecrop”
Topping this all off is a Japanese Wineberry that will clamber up a rose tower and a parentally-donated blackberry that I’ve yet to find a spot for.
This is quite a selection but the sheer size of this border means that there is still plenty of space left for many more plants. I’m hoping I’ll be able to add in a few more exotic berries listed in one of the fruit catalogues I’ve squirrelled away. Who knows, I might even think about filling the gaps with vegetables and towers of peas and runner beans?