Plum branches pointing down
This thread stems (pardon the pun) from not knowing what a healthy Victoria Plum SHOULD look like. I only know what mine looks like, and it looks a bit sad! It's around 10 years old now (about 8 of which have been in my garden) with a main stem about 2.5m long. The label that's finaly fallen off tells me its a Victoria Plum bush on Pixie rootstock. It's free standing, about a metre from a south facing fence and my garden is in southern England The main stem is vertical up to about neck height, then starts to bend over a foot or so, so the last metre is about 20 degrees above horizontal. I've toyed with the idea of putting a large stake in beside it to hold the stem straight, but I've no idea if this is neccessary/beneficial/detrimental. Probably more of concern are the high proportion of branches which come from the main stem and hang almost vertically downwards. Are these too heavy or is this perfectly normal? There are only one or two which defy this rule and actually point upwards. Conversely, most new looking growth (mostly as secondary branches to the hanging ones) looks more perky and tends to curl upwards to about 45 degrees from vertical. These secondary branches themselves are up to 1m long. The tree has been very fruitful, though a lot of fruit is usually low hanging and is lost before harvesting (and when the wasps haven't invaded!). In some years, I've found branches snapped in half from their own weight but have rarely cut anything back. I'd love to restore this back to something like a healthy specimen, but almost all my gardening books reference trained shapes which mine doesn't seem to fit. In the ideal world, what sort of shape should this bush be in and might it benefit from propping up or cutting back? Also, should the lower branches go?