I don’t know what I did over Christmas, but New Years Day saw me shackled in some sort of self-inflicted horticultural gulag, as I tried to get as much winter pruning into as short a time as possible.
Actually I rather enjoyed pruning the apples (about 17-odd trees, I lost count), snipping and sawing quietly away. Thinking botanical and literary thoughts. Deciding what exciting gardening and writing projects to do next.
For this sort of pruning, my system is simple: If it is congested, diseased, crossing, damaged and within reach then off it comes. I will have to go around again (with someone else to hold a ladder) and repeat the procedure for the higher up stuff, but given that it is a fairly young orchard I could do a fair amount from the ground. If you discount Arthur Turner which is romping away and growing antlers, and the increasingly mighty Lord Derby, Blenheim Orange and Katy… Oh those M25 rootstocks!
But in the afternoon it was grapevine time. The vines had not been pruned in two years and so there was a lot of dead and twiggy stuff to remove. In the end it was quite a neat job, but six vines down, when you have been standing with your arms in the air for the last two hours and your feet are getting cold, it all starts to get a bit less funny.
Darkness stopped play(/penal labour, depending on how you view these things) but I got the torch out to plant a rose and a viburnum that had arrived as Christmas presents, anyhow. In for a penny, in for a pound. But much as I like winter, I keep finding myself with the urge to garden at impractical times like 9pm. Roll on June…
The picture is of my pear tree this time last year. Don’t prune when it looks like this, kids!