Fruit for a Small Garden, by Jim Arbury

This month Grayshott Gardeners enjoyed a fascinating talk from Jim Arbury, the RHS Fruit Specialist based at Wisley.  Jim has an encyclopaedic knowledge of top fruit (apples, pears, plums and cherries) and soft fruit (raspberries, strawberries, currants, gooseberries and blueberries).  He shared some of this knowledge with us, with recommendations of what would work well in a relatively small space – a back garden, a section of a larger garden or an allotment.

Jim explained all the things we need to consider before deciding what to grow – a site’s aspect, soil type and micro climate.  He warned that growing in a frost pocket can be particularly challenging due to late frosts damaging the emerging blossom – and without good blossom, there will obviously be no fruit later in the year.

For apples and pears, Jim explained the importance of the choice of rootstock and pollination partners.  He also showed us how trained varieties, such as cordons and espaliers, can maximise production in a small space, as well as bringing very attractive structure to a garden.

Jim had many recommendations of varieties for us to consider – there was much scribbling of notes in the audience.  He also described the RHS apple identification service, which allows you to find out the variety of a tree that you have inherited (or simply lost the label for 😊).  Jim can identify about 700 varieties by sight alone!

The evening gave us a comprehensive overview of the potential our own spaces have for growing delicious fruit – roll on harvest time!