Is your garden without the Queen of all Trees –The Apple?
Apple trees are the very heart of a garden. The Romans started the first cultivars from wild apple trees then took them wherever they went.
There are now over 7,000 cultivars! They herald the beginning of Spring with their gorgeous pretty blossom, they create a lazy puddle of shade in Summer and they herald the beginning of Autumn with their red bubals of sweetness, staving of any fears we might have of impending winter. Yet during the Winter they undergo a complete transformation, turning from pretty maidens into lichen bearded, warty crones!
But every garden needs one –they are friends to wildlife and give the garden a romance and timelessness.
Designing an Orchard or planting your single Apple
Whether you are designing an orchard or just need to select a couple of fruit trees for an empty corner of your garden similar garden design principles apply.
Make sure your site is sunny. At the very least an apple needs 6 hours of sunlight a day to ripen it’s fruit.
A slight slope is preferable as apples hate waterlogged soil- if you are in heavy clay you need to prepare the planting hole with as much organic matter as you can. In the long term the trees might still struggle. If you are desperate use drainage pipe under your tree with the pipes going to an outlet somewhere else in the garden.
Even though you can get alkaline tolerant apples they like a slightly acid soil best.
Wind can play havoc with the formation of the trees structure as well as deter the pollinating insects as it whips around the branches so try to create a hedge or windbreak to protect your new tree- and use sturdy stakes. On some rootstocks they need stakes for the whole of their lives.
If you are in an established urban setting the chances are someone will have an apple tree in the same Pollinating Zone as yours but if you live in a new development or in the countryside check how many companion apple trees you will need to make sure pollination happens.
Size and Type
There are many dwarf apples now that are just a few foot high that can be grown in pots. Or you can go for column shaped trees such as Ballerina if you have a tight space. There also are Family apples that can have three different varities of apples on the one small tree. Whatever you buy check what rootstock it is grown on- as they can get 30 foot high!
Lastly check for disease resistant varieties.
Good luck and happy planting- and what a present they make!