You have to admit they are hardly the most attractive feature. But they serve, or should I say have served, a vital function. Deer proofing.
In the first year I planted the apple trees I never gave a thought to any passing herbivores. And you can see from the photo at the beginning of this essay what a mistake that was.
The poor apple tree was munched almost to the ground. I came down one morning to find my fruit tree reduced to a few twigs. It recovered. But now grows so low to the ground you could almost call them step over apples.
So I built a sturdy cage around the poor tree so at least the deer would have to really work hard to munch the branches.
And I have felt obliged to do it for every tree I have planted since.
I had to leave a good gap at the bottom so I could actually get under the tree and weed. And add mulch. But it was never an easy method for weed control.
Today I was heading down to do some chipping – the branches that I have stockpiled down near the stables were fast disappearing under the burst of weed growth.
But what do you know? I only did half the lavenders bed when I thought of this mad idea of ‘doing’ the fruit trees.
They are growing tall enough, I think, to be less of a deer meal. Last autumn I had a pruning session with Nicolas and he suggested I remove all the side growth from the trunks and leave the trees on quite tall stems before I allow them to break and grow.
It’s a risk. But it is so satisfying to uproot the stakes and remove the wire.
Well, I ought to take down the fence around this peach tree. I’d love it to be eaten by something then I could cut it out and feel no guilt. It suffers from peach leaf curl every single year. A legacy from the infected peach trees that used to be on the lavender bank in front of the house.
Every year I diligently pick off all the infected leaves – stuffing them in my pockets so I can put them in the rubbish bin. And the tree gasps and recovers. And last year it even fruited for the first time. But it is not a happy tree.
And every year I threaten it with a chain saw and it seems to just stagger back into growth. Looks like it gets a reprieve. Yet again.
It would have been better to have photographed the four bouquets individually. But I placed them in the travel box before I remembered to snap the flowers. Next time.