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Very old bramley apple tree

My parents have a bramley apple tree which is prob over 40 years old! Always fruited wonderfully, in recent years a woodpecker appears to have damaged the trunk of tree and this year there have been few apples and most of the top of the tree looks completely dead. However the tree is throwing out new growth from lower down, is there a chance that if they lop off the top of the tree it might recover?


  • DovefromaboveDovefromabove Posts: 86,055

    It's likely that the trunk was already dying before woodpeckers started hunting for grubs in the rotten wood.  But yes, apple trees do sprout from lower down as you describe - sometimes they throw out a lot of slim whippy bushy branches, or sometimes 'proper'  new branches start growing lower down.  The  latter may rejuvenate the tree, but in my experience the former will rarely grow into good fruiting branches.  

    However, a venerable apple tree is a thing of beauty and of immense value to wildlife, harbouring as it will all sorts of bugs and insects.  If you can find berries from a misletoe that came from an apple tree you might be able to grow some on your parents' Bramley, and it would look wonderful with a rambling rose such as Rambling Rector growing up and through it's branches, or even a clematis.

    If your parents decide to take the top off the tree it would be really good to put the trunk somewhere in the garden and leave it to rot down naturally, providing invaluable habitat for all sorts of wildlife.

    Gardening in Central Norfolk on improved gritty moraine over chalk ... free-draining.

  • Pennine PetalPennine Petal Posts: 1,540
    A venerable apple tree - what a lovely description
  • RDGRDG Posts: 2
    Thank you for your wonderful suggestion which has been met with much enthusiasm. All is not lost.
  • DovefromaboveDovefromabove Posts: 86,055

    I would love to have a really old apple tree in this garden, like the ones in the old orchard on the farm where I was a child.  You and your parents really are very lucky image  I'm glad you are going to continue to enjoy it.

    Gardening in Central Norfolk on improved gritty moraine over chalk ... free-draining.

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