There are twenty young apple trees planted in the Wildflower Orchard, ten eating apples, Adam’s Pearmain and ten cookers, Lord Derby, both on M25 rootstocks, a vigorous rootstock. These apples have been planted for three years and have established very well, but the intention was that they should be formed into standard goblets. We thought it time to attempt to form these by formative pruning. The aim is to achieve an open-centred goblet-shaped tree with a clean stem, based around four principal armatures, which were stopped to outward-facing buds, the thicker shoots left longer, the thinner shoots, pruned harder to equalize the growth.
The weather was dry, so we had a line of three Cornus kousa var. chinense, which needed a fourth plant to complete the row. These form small, upright, deciduous trees and rather than plant the predictable fourth, we had a hybrid Indian Dogwood which hopefully, will form a small upright, evergreen tree, which will have a similar form, but which will be completely different. This plant was growing on a hill side near Manda La in western Arunachal Pradesh and was, most probably a hybrid between the Himalayan Dogwood, Cornus capitata and the more tender Cornus elliptica. The large elliptical fruits smelled a little like a cross between a strawberry and a sweaty sock and yielded a few seeds. Because the tree was a hybrid, the twenty or so seedlings which germinated tended to be like their Himalayan parent, but one, the one planted, was clearly different and if it in anyway resembles its parent, will be an amazing plant.
The snowdrops are out in force on the bank now and make a lovely display. After the display, it is important to feed the bulbs to help them form a flower next year. Our soil has a fair amount of limestone scattered through it, so a dressing of bonemeal would not be very effective, like it would be on an acid soil. We will try a dressing of sulphate of ammonia at 35g/m2 and check their progress next year.