Saturday, 19 May 2012

Disasterous rainfall


The non-stop rainfall we have been experiencing for the last couple of months has had a disasterous effect on the pears. Cultivars that are usually fairly robust and reliable have been affected by scab for the first time, and pollenation has been very low. Morettini is usually very healthy in growth, but nearly every fruitlet is completely covered with deep scab lesions. Beth is affected in both leaf and fruit, Winter Nelis and Josephine de Malines don't have a single fertilised fruitlet on the whole tree. Fondante d'Automne has just a couple that I could find. By contrast, Bishop's Thumb, Comice and Conference so far have bumper numbers of fruitlets, but overall I think it will be a very bad year for pears at least. A lot of the apple blossom was by contrast spoiled by unseasonably hard frosts but so far the fruit seems to have set. Fingers crossed that the season isn't an entire washout.

Nether Winchendon House

Visited Nether Winchendon House a couple of weeks back and was amazed to see how well the rather extensive, ancient orchards had been managed and brought back into production. The trees were of quite some age, and although originally pruned into nice open shapes had been planted far too close together. The branches must have been completely intertwined, each shading each other. One quite often sees orchards like this out and about, branches all dead and covered in lichen. Often people are really apprehensive about pruning old standard trees so it was lovely to see that someone had bitten the bullet and taken out all the dead wood and headed the huge trees back to a manageable size. As I was saying this, and admiring particular details, the gardener overheard and interrupted the conversation! I guess she doesn't always hear such appreciative comments. We had a lovely chat. I'm not generally a huge fan of pollarding old trees but if it is done well, with the good of the tree in mind the result can be both attractive, productive and keeps the tree in health for many years longer.

A very nice pear espalier.

Nether Winchendon House itself