Even more confused about fruit tree choice now...

I know I posted a similar question on the Forum but since then we have been to the Brogdale Plum day and now aren't sure whether we should be buying a bullace, damson or greengage. We are developing this woodland area at the back of our garden which backs onto a wood. We have removed evergreen trees so now there is dappled shade and an area which is reminiscent of a woodland glade which gets sufficient sun for a fruit tree to grow. We've been gradually planting the boundaries with a mixture of native hedgerow plants and shrubs.   We would like to plant some kind of  gage, damson or bullace tree, but the advice and choice is bewildering. It needs to be on a rootstock which doesn't allow it to grow too tall (dwarfing or similar?). We need to do plenty of research before ordering - don't want to get this wrong!   So I have some questions - (I hope you don't mind giving me some advice as I know very little about fruit trees)   *First there's what fruit to opt for and whether it needs a pollinator. We don't have room for two new trees so it would need to be self fertile. Is there such a thing amongst damsons, gages or bullaces?   *Which have a good flavour - first for jam and culinary purposes and possibly eating straight from the tree (though this isn't essential)? We tasted Merryweather at Brogdale Plum Day and weren't too keen on that one!   * Which would grow best in the setting I have described?   * Any other advice about what to avoid?   *Further up the garden, we have a young Marjorie's Seedling plum tree - in its 2nd/3rd year after planting. Last year it had a heavy crop. This year, nothing at all and only a very little blossom. Any idea what could have caused this? Weather conditions?   * We bought Marjorie's Seedling partly because it was supposed to be self fertile. Yet on another website, I have since read that it's only PARTIALLY self fertile and would benefit from another pollinator. I am puzzled and rather confused about this because last year it fruited well. Any comments?   * Marjorie is growing 75-100 feet from where we intend to plant the new fruit tree. Would this help with pollinating the new tree or is it irrelevant?   * When and how should I prune Marjorie to maximise cropping?
Ok, lots of questions, I know - but can anyone help?


  • DovefromaboveDovefromabove Central Norfolk UKPosts: 43,730

    If I were you I'd have a look here http://www.readsnursery.co.uk/plums-trees-and-gages/.  They are very helpful if you email them a query.

    Most plums (and other tree fruit too) that are described as self fertile will perform even better if planted near a pollinator of the appropriate group, so you could choose something that will do the job.   However, it may be that your Majorie's Seedling did so well last year that it outperformed is strength and this year needed to put on some root growth (even plants have to prioritise) or it could just be the appalling weather we had this year.

    Personally I love bullaces - they grew in the cottagers' gardens in the Suffolk village where I grew up and were used for jam, pies and superb bullace wine.  Damsons and bullaces can be grown in hedgerows; bullaces in particular stay quite managable in size.

    As for damsons, if you don't like the taste of Merryweather (and it's not my favourite either) why not consider Damson Blue Violet? http://www.readsnursery.co.uk/damson-tree-blue-violet/

    No-one knows if you've done your housework, but everyone knows if you've done your gardening !
  • WelshonionWelshonion Posts: 3,115

    Bullaces are on their own roots I should think as they are really a wild cousin of domesticated damsons and plums. They wouldn't need a pollinator.  IMO I wouldn't bother with a bullace if I could grow a better damson/plum, though they would be fine somewhere like a field or hedgerow.  I regard their fruit as food for free.

  • DovefromaboveDovefromabove Central Norfolk UKPosts: 43,730

    That's fine if there's some accessible near you - if not and you want to recapture tastes from your youth .... plant a bullace image 

    No-one knows if you've done your housework, but everyone knows if you've done your gardening !
  • Love the idea of a bullace. We only know of one wild one near where we live in Kent - and we picked and froze lots of its fruit a couple of years ago. We only got it out this year to make jam with and it is delicious. We were thrilled to bits. Not sure what sort of  bullace it is - it's kind of yellowy greeny with a rosy blush, rather than purple. A bullace would go well in our woodland garden with the other hedgerow plants I'm putting in - but would I need two?

    Many thanks both for the answers and i will look at the Reads Nursery website and check out the Damson Blue Violet too image

  • WelshonionWelshonion Posts: 3,115

    They are very variable, so you cannot guarantee you will get a well flavoured one until it is well grown. They are essentially wild.  And their flesh to stone ratio is not very good.

    Perhaps you should go for a named one.

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