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Weekend Work: Time to prune trained fruit trees


What to do

Prune trained fruit trees, remembering that winter pruning, in terms of persuading trees to bear fruit, is not as important as summer pruning. Winter pruning is the way to gradually build up a standard or half standard apple or pear from a young, single-stemmed whip. With established trees, you need do no more than cut out thin, weak shoots, or any wood that is diseased or already dead.

Pinch out the tops of autumn-sown sweet peas, to make compact, bushy plants. Actually, I no longer sow in autumn. Too many plants were nibbled through by mice. Plants grown from an early spring sowing soon catch up.

Check bowls of hyacinths rooting in whatever dark, cool place you have put them, to see that the compost is not drying out.

Mulch beds and borders, round the bottoms of currant and gooseberry bushes, round roses, climbers and wall shrubs. A good, thick mulch of mushroom compost is the best Christmas present you can give your garden.

What to see

Plant hunter Frank Kingdon-Ward brought this country wonderful acers, berberis, cornus, rhododendrons and lilies. Emma Tennant celebrates this botanic diversity in her watercolours, on show at 54 The Gallery, Shepherd Market, London W1 from 6-9 Dec (10am-6pm)