Apple Trees. For a guide to growing and different types of excellent cooking apples see RHS, The Garden, October 2019, pp.41-44.
Pear trees can live for hundreds of years and reach up to 70 feet high (20 metres). The world’s most widely planted pear ‘Williams’ Bon Chretien’ was raised in England in Berkshire. In the late 18th century this pear stock was taken to Canada and USA. The Victorians saw the pear as ‘gold to the apple’s silver.’ (Joan Morgan, ‘Time to Focus on Pears,’ RHS, The Garden, January 2016, p.19)
It is thought that the ‘Cubbington pear’ tree is the oldest pear tree is the oldest in the UK, and is up to 250 years old. It will be felled to make way for HS2 rail link, but twenty saplings were propagated by RHS students at Shuttleworth College in Bedfordshire. (RHS, The Garden, September 2018, p.7)
For a review of ‘Heritage pears of the British Isles’ (and Ireland), see RHS, The Garden, November 2019, pp59-65.
Plant plum trees during winter (aka the dormant season), before growth starts in early spring (eg February). Bare-root plants usually establish better than container-grown trees. Stakes or training wires may be needed depending on the type of tree form you decide to grow.
Pruning for plums should be carried out in spring or summer. The RHS recommends avoiding any pruning in autumn or winter, to avoid risk of infection from bacterial canker and silver leaf disease.
Plums, damsons and gages can suffer from plum moth, which results in little pink worms growing and excreting inside the growing fruit – which is pretty gross and you don’t want to be eating worms alongside your plum crumble or plum jam! Infested fruit tends to ripen first, fruits that ripen later on the tree often have a much lower incidence of the caterpillars. The RHS recommends using pheromone traps in early spring – pesticides can also be used.
Fig Trees. Remove large fruit that will not overwinter from figs, leaving only the large pea-sized embryonic figs in leaf axils – these will ripen in the coming season.