Beginning a new series of gardening advice from Paul Narkwell of Quaymount Nurseries.
When someone suggested I write a gardening page for the Village Pump I wondered what to call it. Notes from the Nursery jumped to mind, but as I thought about what to write it became clear that I, along with all of the staff at Quaymount Nurseries, are passionate about the plants we grow.
Perhaps I should explain a little about the Nursery and my credentials to talk gardening.
We at Quaymount in Wereham grow a wide range of hardy plants for your garden and yes we are open to you the public. If you call in you will get a warm welcome from all our staff, oh and a noisy one from the girls, Thistle and Bramble (my two soppy Golden Retrievers) who after a good bark just want their tummies rubbed! As for me (tummy aside) I worked at Talbot Manor (a privately owned botanical gardens in Fincham) as a youth during my school holidays. This is where I met Roger whose knowledge on all things gardening is second to none; Roger now works at the nursery. Upon leaving school I went on to Writtle agricultural College working at Blooms Nursery during my year out. After college I went to work in Guernsey where I learnt how to graft plants. Following a stint at Rochford’s Nursery in Hertford, I came back to Wereham where we set up Quaymount Nurseries. In the beginning we were mainly a wholesale Nursery now we are almost fifty/fifty retail and trade. This gives me direct contact with you the Gardeners and invaluable feedback.
Growing Fruit Trees.
This autumn I have witnessed a huge increase in the number of people asking about fruit trees for growing in their gardens, and they all ask the same sort of questions. All want to grow fruit in a small garden, thinking that Ballerina trees are the answer, they may be for some but definitely not for me. I would stick to traditional Cordon or Fan trained trees, ideal for growing against walls and pruned properly will give lots of quality fruit.
But what varieties are best and how do I grow them?
Growing them is easy, and if you buy your trees from us we are happy to show and advise you and will even start training your tree for you! We will stock a good selection of the varieties best grown in our area.
What variety of apple tree is best for me?
First decide if you want apples to eat from the tree, apples to eat or bake or just culinary (good old fashioned cookers).
The following list is a few of my favourites that have done well for me:
Dessert Varieties (eaters)
Beauty of Bath: Pick fruit in August and use August to September (pollination Group A), This is a lovely apple eaten straight from the tree, it is pale yellow in colour with a red flush and has stripes and dots, not only a good looker but yummy to eat too!
Cox (self fertile): Pick in September and use September to November (pollination group B) If you must have a Cox then have this one, but Cox are not very reliable due to the flowers being prone to frost damage, in my opinion they should not be grown north of London. There are much better newer varieties, and whilst I think of it forget Golden Delicious it doesn’t fruit well in our climate.
Sunset: Pick in October and it will keep till December (pollination group B) A comparatively recent variety with golden fruit flushed with red and speckled with russet. Firm and juicy and probably the best substitute for the Cox Orange Pippin in the north of England, doing well in Norfolk too, has the added attraction of colourful blossom and is fairly resistant to frost. Well worth a try.
Winter Gem: Pick in October and will keep to January (pollination group C) this is a high quality late dessert apple, with a strong apple aroma, it’s crisp and juicy, add to this the attractive pink flushed flesh makes it a must have apple.
If you are short of space then forget good old Bramley (it’s a bit of a strong grower) as there are other really good cookers.
Bountiful: Pick in September and will keep until November (pollination group A) A new variety, cooks well keeping its shape, soft light sweet and juicy, yummy!
Howgate Wonder: Pick in November and use well into January (pollination group B) Produces large cooking apples its flesh is firm and juicy and quite sweet when ripe, cooks well.
Newton Wonder: Dual Purpose. Pick October and use November to May (if kept properly) (pollination group C) One of the best cooking apples available the fruit are large and colourful. Cooks to a full flavoured yellow fluff with a sweet aroma (reminds me of Sunday lunches in the winter months at my Grandmothers). Because of its long keeping qualities it will mellow into a sharp dessert apple. It is hardy and tolerant of late frosts.
My Grandfather had an old tree in his back garden and he kept the fruit in his old Anderson shelter!
We also have Pear, Plum and cherry trees for sale at the nursery and will be happy to advise you on positioning, planting, pollination, and pruning when you come to buy your plants. Don’t get bogged down with the different types of under stocks that they can be grown on. We have them on a medium growing one which is suitable for a wide range of soil types. In my experience the true dwarfing root stock are for really fertile growing conditions!
Christmas will be upon us soon and plants make great gifts for gardeners, but if your not sure what to get or the gift has to go through the postal system why not give a National Garden Gift Token, we sell them at the Nursery and they can be used at most good Garden Centres and Nurseries. Quaymount is open Monday to Friday 8-5pm and Saturday and Sundays 8-4pm (or dusk). So look forward to seeing you.
I hope this has triggered some interest in fruit trees but, if you have a question, please write to the Editor and he will pass them on to me. If I don’t know the answer, I know a man who does.
I would like to finish by wishing everyone a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.
Paul Markwell, Quaymount Nurseries, The Row, Wereham.
Telephone No. 01366 500691.
P.S. we also reuse/recycle 5″and upwards pots. So bring them to the Nursery where we will wash and reuse them.