The benefits of planting fruit trees in the garden seem obvious; armfuls of ripe, heavy fruit to share with your friends and family. Anyone who has tasted an apple fresh from the tree can attest to the value of home-grown fruit. There is an immense satisfaction from the delayed gratification of nurturing a fruit tree through it’s infancy, to be rewarded with your very own fruit. Many apple varieties like Akane, Bramley’s Seedling and Egremont Russet are not commercially available, and so the only choice if you want to try these types is to grow them yourselves. For the gardener willing to grow these rarer varieties a world of flavour awaits, one far removed from supermarket cold-storage.
However, using fruit trees can bring more to a garden than produce. Deciduous fruit trees make particularly valuable garden subjects. These summer-fruiting trees lose their leaves in winter, meaning they can be used where summer shade or winter sun is needed.
Deciduous fruit trees like pears, cherries, apples, almonds and quinces have a magnificent display of spring blossom. One of the most welcome sights of the oncoming spring in a garden is when the barren twigs of a pear tree explode in heady blossom. These will appear before the leaves, the stark bareness of the branches amplifying the impact of the softness of the gentle flowers.
Nothing heralds spring like cherry blossom
Deciduous fruit trees lose their leaves as they become dormant in winter. Adding a dimension of seasonality to a garden design, the shedding leaves allow clear winter sun into a space. This is during a time of year when the light and warmth from the sun is a precious resource. As they become dormant in winter, deciduous fruit trees can be grown in areas with cold winters and strong frosts.
Deciduous fruit trees breaking dormancy, a visual promise of warmer days ahead
The autumn foliage of deciduous fruit trees is genuinely remarkable, and is perhaps the greatest asset they offer to the gardener. A painter’s palette of colour is available to bring into a garden, from fiery, vibrant reds to warm oranges, restrained yellows and even strong bronzes. The tone of the colour will often change as the leaves age, rewarding repeat audiences. The striking seasonal show deciduous fruit trees bring can be the highlight of a year in the garden, and serves to signal the passing of time in the garden.
The fruit itself is often highly ornamental. Glossy, round persimmons bring a bold colour accent to a garden as they start out yellow and ripen to an orange or even deep red in April. The charming shapes of swelling quinces draw the eye immediately, and children cant resist rubbing the “fluff” that grows on the skin of the fruit.
Cherries add a burst of colour as they ripen
Generally, deciduous fruit trees prefer an open, sunny position but are quite adaptable and will grow on a variety of soils. They prefer good drainage and will struggle in waterlogged soils. Leaf curl can be a problem for stone fruits, as can pear and cherry slug, Apples and pears can be attacked by coddling moth. The fruit, and fatty seeds inside the fruit often proves irresistible to passing birds (particularly parrots), so netting may be required if you wish to protect the fruit from hungry interlopers.
Formative pruning is often required to allow light and air into the framework of the tree, encouraging flowers, fruit and healthy new growth. Each kind of fruit tree has its own habit of growth and fruit set, and so it is important that formative pruning is carried out by a qualified and experienced horticulturalist. All of our field staff are qualified or training horticulturalists, and so are experienced and informed about the kind of pruning your deciduous fruit tree will need to maintain ongoing health and shape.