Yesterday, King of the Hill and I spent an amazing day learning how to summer prune apple and pear espaliers at Painswick Rococo Garden in Gloucestershire.
It was an amazing day, and we learned a lot about training and maintaining espaliers, which we hope to apply to the apple espaliers that we planted last winter, and a couple more that we hope to add to the garden in time. (I suspect that espalier fruit trees could become rather addictive…).
The picture above shows the neat result of King of the Hill’s first espalier after pruning – I don’t have a before photo, alas, but there was a lot of chaotic growth to prune off to reveal its shape like this.
The intention of summer pruning of espaliers, usually undertaken during July, is to tidy up the season’s growth and allow more air and light to reach the ripening fruit. More architectural pruning is usually done during the winter. The course was brilliant, not only in teaching us what to do, and why; but also in giving us the chance to see and experience it in action which has given us untold confidence to look after our own trees.
I didn’t take nearly enough photos of the day, being completely immersed in the garden. For a more informative description of the key principles of summer pruning, please take a look at Gill’s great post after attending the same course last year, as I don’t think I could do it justice. I found her post (and hence lovely blog) in the spring while trawling the web for more information on espaliers after we planted ours, and it was how we learned of the course which we immediately booked for ourselves; so thank you, Gill, if you see this!
The day passed too quickly, and all too soon it was time to get on the road home, so we never found the opportunity to thoroughly explore the far reaches of the garden, and sadly never even got to the kitchen garden, but the planting that we saw during the day was wonderful and carefree.
There were swathes of salvias, resplendent in white and blue. And the amazing architectural cardoons, humming with pollen-coated bees.
Not to mention stands of echinacea, pathways lined with honeysuckle, roses, cranesbills and oh so many glories! We shall have to return on another day to do the garden justice, for further inspiration. And to keep an eye on those espaliers that we pruned.
Thanks to Chris Hitchcock, head gardener, and Bill Whitehead, fruit tree specialist, for their guidance and knowledge. It was an amazing day (and such a lovely change from a day in the office)!