Thursday, 10 January 2008

A strange alternative to espaliered fruit trees

When we came to our house in 1999, it had been a neglected rental property for the previous 13 years. It was advertised as "having potential" and " a renovator's delight"! The front was characterised by a straggly row of plum trees vaguely arranged as a hedge. I'm sure they hadn't been watered in all of that time. Everyone assumed the trees would be removed as part of the renovations when I got around to the front garden and this being my first house and garden, I assumed they were right. Until the time came to fix up the front, I occasionally pruned the plum trees like you would a hedge to keep them looking at least partially respectable. As I spent more time at home, I trimmed it more often and it started to look much better.

Finally, the front patch got it's turn about 6 months ago. I dug up the concrete and the "lawn" and put in a brick path and a lamp post. Much to the horror of some of my family, I chose not to up-root the plum trees. In suburbia, it is so hard to find a mature tree these days. All you need is one owner who doesn't want it there and decades of growth are lost. Although they'll never be a perfect hedge now, they don't look nearly as bad as they used to since that they have been trimmed more often. There are 7 separate trees (with many trunks each) and they have different types of plum on them. Some are dark red, some a more pale red and some are yellow. The yellow ones fruit for the longest so they get eaten the most. (As it is now, the birds get most of the red ones but I'll do something about that next year! I'm not sure how I'll fix it without displacing the family of willy wagtails that come back to nest in the middle of it each year but I'll work something out.)

The last of the yellow plums are edible now. It shows you can fit a lot of productive fruit trees in a really small area! Although I've decided to keep this one, I'm not sure that I would recommend a plum hedge to anyone else. My trees don't have many branches right at the bottom and the hedge has several big holes in it. Perhaps this could be rectified if they were regularly trimmed through their life. Being deciduous, they don't have that classic hedge look in winter - more a collection of sticks. Also, since one side of the hedge is on the footpath, there is a plethora of plums and plum seeds on the path through the beginning of summer. I overheard a small boy walking past with his mum the other day. "Oh - here are those stupid plums" he said. "I hate it when they stick in your shoes"! Perhaps I need to sweep them up more often.


Maggie said...

Fruit trees are great, if we are going to grow things it's always good to plant things that are edible, not just pretty! You must try to come to the rare fruit society when you have more time. You could learn how to graft different varieties on too good root stock.

George Biron said...

We love your site and will look deeply into it.

About 6 years ago I saved 3 espalliered plums from the tip when a local business was closing. Very hot here also today and just sorting seeds and organising this autumn's plantings.
I am ispired by the seed exchange form and will do one soon we get absolutely masses of many varieties, Like tomatillos, other physalis, wild rocket, echium, poppies, melons, tomatoes of all sorts, many herbs etc

Maggie said...

Thanks for your comment your blog is great,it is always good to find some Aussie food and garden bloggers. We shalllook forward to what you will be posting.