The first community-based workshops have taken place based at the newly rebuilt glasshouses at Florence Court House Kitchen Garden, thanks to support from the National Lottery Heritage Fund.

A series of workshops on winter pruning of apple trees took place in February, led by one of the volunteers at the Garden, David Bolton.

Everyone attending assembled at several different sessions in one of the two new glasshouses, which have been built on the same footprint as those which were there generations ago.

The apple orchard at Florence Court, adjacent to the Kitchen Garden, has also been restored with native Irish apple varieties.

Situated there is an old apple store which is also being refurbished for use in the future.

David Bolton, in his introduction to apple pruning, explained the principles behind winter pruning, as well as the science behind the production of modern apple trees.

An apple variety is grafted onto a rootstock, the latter which governs the overall size of the tree.

For example, an M26 rootstock will only grow to 2-3 metres tall, whereas a tree grafted onto M111 could grow to 3.5 to 5 metres high.

He said those pruning their trees should remember to remove ‘the three Ds’: Dead, Diseased and Damaged branches.

Illustrating his talk with a booklet freely given out to participants, written by Chloe Ward, winter pruning of apple trees causes more leaf and branch growth whereas summer pruning leads to the tree producing more flower buds for more fruit.

A workshop is expected to be held in August looking at summer pruning techniques.

David then led participants to the orchard where they were shown how some trees had been cut back, principally the leading branch going upwards,cut back to help shape the tree and prevent it becoming too tall.

He showed how some trees have been trained as espalier apple trees, the branches growing horizontally and tied on wires.

This makes the trees very compact and the fruit easy to pick. Now there are more than 150 metres of espaliers in the Kitchen Garden.

David also demonstrated how to plant an apple tree, keeping the graft joint above soil level.

In the orchard, David and the participants on the workshop joined a number of garden volunteers to see them pruning some of the trees.

Also attending was the Senior Gardener at Florence Court, Ian Marshall.


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