Island Life Magazine Ltd October/November 2011 - Page 80

Gardening with Tina Hughes Tina trained as a professional gardener after leaving school and spent a summer working in Tuscany as an English Gardener. She has a National Diploma in Horticulture. A fruitful plan I have recently been discussing a scheme to plant an orchard in a friend’s garden. The idea is to provide some screening from an adjoining property as well as a long season of colour and interest. This will be an orchard with a difference though. Instead of the choosing the usual eating or cooking varieties needing formative and annual pruning grease bands, pheromone traps and all the rest this will be a low maintenance orchard, needing very little care other than watering in the first season, and keeping the planting hole free of grass or weeds for a few seasons. This ‘orchard’ will be made up of a collection of ornamental crab apple trees that will provide plenty of pollen and nectar for the bees and fruit for the birds. This is an idea that I have used before, and it works really well, especially in a rural setting. In addition to the benefits I have already mentioned, any neighbouring apple trees will benefit as crab apples make 80 excellent pollinators for many varieties which need to be cross pollinated to bear good crops. There are plenty of different varieties to choose from, about thirty five in all, with lots of cultivars. Two of the most popular varieties are Malus ‘John Downie’ which produces large ornamental red flushed orange fruit, whilst Malus ‘Golden Hornet’ bears a profusion of golden-yellow fruits. At the top of my list though is a variety called ‘Evereste’ which has an RHS Award of Garden Merit. The flowers are large, about 5cm across, starting off as pink buds which open to reveal white flowers. The fruits are a good shade of yellowish orange. All Crab apples are fully hardy and generally easy to grow. They are at their best in full sun, where the effects of their fruit and foliage can be seen to its full advantage. The only conditions where they will not survive are in waterlogged soil. These trees will generally grow to about 10m (30’) when mature. TINA'S TIPS • Clear up fallen leaves and apples from under the trees to reduce the spread of disease. • Rake leaves off of lawns. • Use Crab Apples for wine-making and jelly, delicious spread on bread or enjoy with roast pork or goose. HAVE A QUESTION? If you have a question, need some advice or even a suggestion for an article then please email: