What do people request from me as part of my fruit tree consultancy work? Normally I am asked to help with existing fruit trees in gardens that have run into problems. The issues are generally due to factors concerning the site, soil, lack of attention or erroneous treatment, pollination problems, pruning, pests, diseases, drought, light and so forth. Generally people want their fruit trees to be healthy and produce lots of good fruit, and so they ask me either to help them plant new trees, or to nurse existing trees back to health.
But there are some occasions on which people want something completely different. Here are a few of the more unusual examples.
Deer are usually a problem for estates and orchards, because they can cause great damage, particularly in winter. But one customer, who particularly loved these animals, had bought a property and wanted to turn it into a landscape that would specifically attract deer. He contacted me and asked for six apple trees on a rootstock that would enable them to grow into very large trees. Regular cropping was essential, because deer love apples, particularly late in the season and into winter, when food for deer is getting short. Large trees would also produce shade for the deer in the summer heat. So I selected the trees, they are growing well, and in a few years, all being well, there will be another satisfied customer, and lots of satisfied deer.
Another lady asked me for help in planning and planting two trees that would grow very large, to create a shaded area at the end of her garden, where she could entertain her family and friends during the summer months. She said she did not get on with umbrella stands and so forth, and preferred natural shade. She also thought it would be a good way of enabling the kids to run around in the garden as much as they liked without doing damage to the ornaments inside the house.
Yet another lady contacted me and asked for two apple trees which would provide lovely scents during blossom time. She said that she didn’t like apples at all, because they were so much bother to pick or clear up off the ground. So she asked me to make sure that the trees would NOT crop!
Lastly, another gentleman contacted me and asked me for advice on how to construct a living fence, consisting of apple trees. He wanted to have a living fence that he could prune using a hedge trimmer every summer. I asked him why, and he told me that he had spent a small fortune on the fence separating his garden from his neighbour’s, because every time that he went on holiday, the neighbour moved the fence by about one metre! So he hoped that a row of apple trees would provide a more durable frontier.
All in a day’s work for a fruit tree consultant!