11 August 2012

One of the last honourable activities

Something strange usually happens when I prune trees. The power and thrill of cutting can take over, and much of the tree falls prey to my secateurs and loppers!

However, today that didn't happen. I stuck to the rules! It was an afternoon of full-frontal attack on branches that were too upright, crowded, diseased or plain dead. And less than a third of each tree fell.

A friend of mine said she feels like she's being mean to a tree by pruning it. In a way, the tree does 'think' something's eating it, which could seem mean. But if it grows more fruit, and of course has no brain, it doesn't matter, I reckon.

The two espaliered apple trees had a fairly hard chop. They are a good example of making nature bend to your will. I am still in love with the idea of espaliering - so romantic, so European, so pretty, and such an efficient use of space - but after three years we have been quite unsuccessful. Nature kicked back. Some of our tiers, you see, are missing, due to either not growing or being accidentally snapped off during the tying down process. So I had to improvise. The photos are a bit bland due to it being winter, but there is some European romantic prettiness when they come into leaf, missing tiers and all.


A lemon tree unpruned for several years proved to be a two hour, hard-yakka job. About 20 of the fruit came off with the pruning, which was pretty good considering that probably 1/5 of the branches went! Several hundred fruit remain, and I have some great recipe plans for them, one of which may come your way tomorrow. Sweet, juicy, fresh lemons - what a treat. And we have two laden trees!

And it's always nice to have a little boy helping out.

Pruning the Griselinea hedge while we're in the mood.
Kevin McCloud of Grand Designs fame wrote in his most recent book (see 'Things I love that you might too', above and to the right) that growing vegetables is "one of the last honourable activities known to man". I think he'd put growing fruit trees in the same category. Having a high opinion of him, I felt quite superior as I went about my honourable activity this afternoon, especially when I sat down, super hungry, to my hearty husband-cooked stew and spuds, because it's been a while since I did reasonably hard physical work for any length of time.

However, then I watched Grand Designs (yes, we temporarily have a TV, borrowed to watch the Olympics), and Kevin wasn't very nice to the home builder. My opinion of him plummeted. But not my pleased-with-self feeling, or my enthusiasm to rip into the rest of them tomorrow (if it stops raining - must not prune in the rain!).

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