Tree Following March 2017 Part 8.

Tree Following March 2017 Part 8.

Apple Grafting Special Blog

Many thanks to  Squirrelbasket  for hosting this monthly meme  #Treefollowing

So far my James Grieve  Apple Tree has not done much this year, except survive snow, hail, high winds, and then even higher winds from storm Doris.

Apple 'James Grieve' currently looking nothing like this picture.

Apple ‘James Grieve’ currently looking nothing like this picture.

It’s not expected to show any signs of growth for perhaps another 3-4 weeks.

So until all the fun starts, let me tell you about an Apple Tree Grafting workshop  I attended a few Sundays ago.

The course was run by a group called Grafters and Growers, and they are a Leicestershire based group  set up with the aim of promoting varieties of Apple that have originated from within the county of Leicestershire.

Grafters and Growers are the practical arm of the Leicestershire Heritage Apples Project. (LHAP).

More info

The aim of the grafting workshop that I attended was to be shown how to graft 2 Heritage Apple varieties onto 2 root-stocks with the overall aim of going home with two viable plants to be grown on and mapped for part of the Virtual Orchard Project, The home grafter (me), becoming  the plants guardians.

2 rootstock of MM106 were provided for us.

The MM106 is a good rootstock to use as it is compatible with all types of apple varieties, It is considered as a semi-dwarfing type which reaches 3-4m (10-13ft) x 4m (13ft) at an ultimate height.
It starts fruiting at about 3 – 4 years.
It is tolerant of a range of soils including grassy orchards and poor soils.

We were also provided with lots of varieties of Heritage apples for us to choose which 2 varieties to graft.

The first half of the session was a general chat about apples, the whys and wherefores of grafting, and about how many heritage varieties were originally discovered in hedgerows, and re-discovered in old orchards.

 Did you know …that Apple Varieties discovered growing in hedgerows along older roads tend to be from Cider or Cooking Apples, whereas Apples found in hedgerows along much newer roads tend to be eating apples.

Did you know…  it takes around 6 years from growing an apple from pip to tasting the fruit from that plant.

The rest of the session involved practicing taking a graft on some spare apple wood before the main event.

The types of grafts that we were undertaking during the session were called the ‘V’ Graft or Cleft Graft. It’s a reliable and strong graft, and arguably one of the easiest types of graft to do.

The new variety to be grafted onto the rootstock is called the Scion wood.

The ‘V’ Graft on the scion wood.

The Scion wood was prepared into a V shape about an inch long with preferably a bud included.

The Rootstock being prepared.

A slightly blurry picture of the rootstock being prepared with a slit also about an inch deep ready to accommodate the scion wood.


  • Fit the scion wood into the rootstock ‘V’ so that the cambium (green layer just beneath the bark) meet.
  • It is desirable that they touch on both sides of the stem, but usually satisfactory if they only meet on one side.
  • The key to grafting is to make straight cuts so the rootstock and scion fit snugly. (I’m rubbish at this).
  • The graft should then be wrapped with grafting tape, polythene strips or other suitable tape and any exposed cut surfaces painted with grafting wax.

This was a finished graft before waxing.

This was the demonstration graft done by our instructor on the day. (Mine looked more informal).

Sounds easy, well it wasn’t….  It’s very fiddly and you are using a very sharp blade which adds to the drama of it all. I’m please to report no blood was spilled and I completed my two efforts.

The 2 heritage varieties that I chose to graft were…

Martins Custard……..

Described as

  • An old Leicestershire Variety
  • The Fruit is Medium to large
  • A Cooking Apple
  • Its Firm, Crisp, Juicy and Briskly Acidic
  • The Blossom is Violet in Spring.
  • More info here


Described as……

  • A Red Fleshed Eating Apple
  • More info Here
  • I couldn’t resist Pendragon, even though it is a Cornish Variety, it has purple leaves, purple blooms, and a right dark red flesh in the apple, It also had red sap in the scion, which I forgot to photograph whilst taking the cutting.

Did you know … The Apple Blossom on Leicestershire Trees are ahead about 2 weeks before Apple Trees in Kent blossom, this is because the days are slightly longer here.

And did you know… That blossoming times for Apple trees can vary up to two weeks either side of the stated date for that variety in the reference books, a Bramley Variety is a good reference point as it is a good mid-season blossoming Apple Tree.

I’ve placed the two pots of grafts in a sheltered place that will still receive some rain. I’ve got to keep an eye on those buds later in the spring in the hope that the grafts have taken.

If the results are good or bad, you’ll find out through this blog in due course.

Many thanks to Grafters and Growers and The Leicestershire Heritage Apples Project for holding the Grafting Course.

End of Month View of the Garden: End of February 2017

End of Month View of the Garden: End of February 2017

The weather in February started off quite balanced, and reasonable, but ended with a blast by Storm Doris, who helped herself to several fence panels, and the felt off my shed roof, but did leave me with someone’s tent, 2 parts of a plastic Christmas Tree and an empty shoebox.

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Book Review – My Garden is a Car Park and other Design Dilemmas by Kendra Wilson

Book Review – My Garden is a Car Park and other Design Dilemmas by Kendra Wilson


When I was asked to review this book I was unsure if it would appeal to me, you see my garden has not changed much since I moved in over 10 years ago, I’ve moved the odd slab about, widened a couple of existing beds,  put up 2 new greenhouses, and dug out and replanted several areas, but I’ve not done what you might call any actual ‘designing’.

This book is not about how to build, but a book of ideas.  I like ideas.

As the Author has stated in the Introduction “This Book is a garden tour with notes and pictures, sharing the surprisingly simple ideas that can solve complex dilemmas”.

The style of the book is in effect a series of questions imagined by the reader, which are  then answered by the author.

The book starts with what you might call the bigger statements such as “My garden is too small, my garden is too long and narrow, and the ever perennial issue that is “I’ve spent all my money on the house”.

Questions are delt with throughout.

Questions are dealt with throughout.

The Author then sets about making suggestions in relation to the issue stated, for example for the issue “my garden is too small” this is dealt with all the positives in relation to having  a small garden, such as no real need to include a lawn, simplifying the use of materials and even suggesting Cottage Gardening as a suitable style for such a small space.

There are 136 pages of problems covered in this book, and each question and suggested answer is complimented with a picture illustrating the suggestions.

Beautiful pictures throughout.

Beautiful pictures throughout.

I really like this book as it has already given me several simple ideas to issues I believed I had in my garden, the book gives me the sense that my issues are actually not that bad  really and easily remedied, that dark corner I have, the bit of my garden overseen by the neighbours I don’t really like, the really dry bit of garden I have. Solutions and suggestions for all these areas I’ve found answers for in this book.

Other suggestions at the bottom of each page..

Other suggestions at the bottom of each page..

The book is nicely set out, and is suitable for dipping in and out of, it could be ready from end to end as a whole, or just looking up specific dilemmas and solutions.

At the bottom of each page and at the end of each dilemma that is dealt with, there is reference to similar problems and solutions throughout the book.

The book easy to navigate, nice pictures, lots of ideas, information of useful terms used in Horticulture, a page of resources which include details of the RHS, The Hardy Plant Society, and Garden Organic amongst others.

There is a detailed section on the  Photo Credits and a small section called voices in which  Writers whose ideas help influence the sections in this book are highlighted which I thought was a nice touch.

I think this book would suit a beginner looking for answers, and experienced gardeners looking for inspiration, it was certainly a nice inspirational read on a rainy day.

 My Garden is a Car Park and other Design Dilemmas is published by Laurence King Publishers.