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Selecting trees for a mini orchard

Hiya, BTW, I am the old Blueboots, but I haven't been able to get back in for a while (don't know why) so I rejoined as Blueboots2 .

I have a large sloping garden West facing and overlooking the Bristol Channel (i.e. it comes with salty sea breezes/gales, tempered a little by a stand of Leylandii). With a lot help from you guys a while ago I've removed a ton of weeds (first nettles, then other things). It's not looking too bad now and we've decided to make a mini orchard in the middle. Very mini really. I reckon we have room for 4 small fruit trees and one a bit bigger.

I found a magic website: orangepippintrees and am absorbing all the info there so I can buy some fruit trees from them very soon, and get them planted in April. I seem to have left it late though and they are out of a lot of things.

Other than the info on the site I have no idea what I'm doing, but I have to grab the moment. It's time to plant, and I might not feel this enthusiastic next year image. I am VERY enthusiastic right now image

What I wondered before I take the plunge is, have I forgotten anything?

I am looking at the trees:

  • rootstock (to give the right size)
  • size (3m is about as high as we want to go)
  • resistance to disease and bugs
  • attractiveness to birds (as little as possible)
  • how to support (probably permanent for all types given the windy location)
  • pot or bare root (will take pot, can't see any benefits of bare root for us)
  • pollination (self-fertilising, or compatible pairs)

looking at fruit:

  • flavour (I know some fruit flavours but will probably have to guess. e.g. I like Braeburn, but not Coxs, and I like victoria plums but I couldn't say what other varieties taste like)
  • fruiting time (early mid late)
  • keeping properties
  • cooker or eater

Current thinking is to buy two compatible dwarf apple trees, a cooker and an eater. And three other small trees (slightly bigger than dwarf probably), maybe:

  • Plum because we like them. Cooker/eater would be good
  • Cherry because I love them. I would take on the birds for the privilege of having my own cherries.
  • Quince, because it's exotic and interesting

What do you think? Am I considering everything I should?  Any comments would be very helpful.



  • pansyfacepansyface Posts: 21,549

    Two more excellent sites and suppliers. I have just been doing the same thing this spring. All three companies provided me with good quality trees. Orange Pippin's packing was the least good and their trees arrived slightly damaged. They gave me a refund of £10 but I would rather they had spent that on a bit of straw and a length of string.

    If quince is to your liking, Keepers nursery is run by an Iranian family and they have some unusual varieties from their homeland.

    I chose varieties of apples based on what I had found through a heritage variety apple salesman in our local market. I was very impressed with Christmas Pippin.image

    Apophthegm -  a big word for a small thought.
    If you live in Derbyshire, as I do.
  • bekkie hughesbekkie hughes Posts: 5,294
    Blueboots, why not see if you can find a local apple day.

    Theres a patio quince i think it was on the dt brown site, looks good, im considering it myself image

    Ive got far too many apple trees for a town garden, but keep all the eaters as cordons (roughly!) So they dont take much room at all. I havent got anywhere cool enough to store apples, so have got some that crop at different times. I started a thread a little while ago about which apples everyone likes, egremont russet seemed to be the most popular image

    The onlt one ive found to be a bit of a wild thing is the victoria plum, possibly because of my dodgy pruning

    Cherries seem fairly easy too, ive got a stella and a morello, theyve been in a couple of years now, still fairly small.

    Do you like pears? Ive got a confrence tree ive had for around 15 years, its been mived umpteen times, but still crops well and is a beautiful goblet shape.

    Take plenty of time choosing, ive ended up with a few apple varieties im not keen on through being impulsive. Other than that i think its a fab idea, which will bring you joy for a long time to come image
  • pansyfacepansyface Posts: 21,549

    A Pixy rootstock for a plum is about as small as you can get and it is still going to be quite large. The apple trees are no problem - you can have them as cordons as Bekkie says or as stepover types.

    Apophthegm -  a big word for a small thought.
    If you live in Derbyshire, as I do.
  • ButtercupdaysButtercupdays Posts: 4,356

    Ashridge trees is another good one . I have just bought and planted a crab apple from them and it was beautifully packed. I was a bit concerned at first, because the delivery (courier) van driver seemed to pull it out from underneath a big pile of parcels and it is nearly 10 ft tall. But it was in perfect condition, as it was so well protected. A lovely looking tree too.

  • bekkie hughesbekkie hughes Posts: 5,294
    Ive had stuff from ashride which was very good, crocus have been really good too. With some of the others it seems to be pot luck, but even some of the ropier stock has come good in the end, you definately get what you pay for! image
  • pansyfacepansyface Posts: 21,549

    Buttercupdaysimage One of mine was a bit difficult for the driver to prop up against the wall while I signed for it. After a few good dunts on the ground he got it to stand upright. When he'd gone I found that the pot was at the top.image

    Apophthegm -  a big word for a small thought.
    If you live in Derbyshire, as I do.
  • Thank you all, that's really helpful. It's good to have the names of other suppliers, Orangepippin have sold out of a lot of stock, so I might be able to get what I want in other places. That is when I decide what I want.

    Pansyface, I do fancy a quince, more because it's exotic than anything else (I don't know what they taste like), so I will definitely consider what Keepers Nursery has. Maybe I should rethink a plum if they are pretty big.

    Bekkie, I'll take a look at your taste thread. That's going to be trick though, as taste is so subjective. I hear what you're saying about taking time to get what we like. Not sure I can do it though......i'm itching to get going now image

    I can't imagine buying a plum or cherry I don't like, but if I listen carefully to what people have said about taste in apples maybe I can get something that will be OK. The cooker should be easier. I don't know when apple days happen, but I suspect I've missed this season.

    I do like pears, but I'm very fussy indeed. I only like to eat rock hard Williams pears (or a similar one I can't remember the name of). If they are any softer than rock hard and I can't be bothered with them. I'd better not get a pear tree, although They do look lovely.

    ...and thank you Buttercupdays, I will check out Ashridge too.

    but now I need to get to that taste thread!

  • I just read the taste thread - very helpful thank you.

    It just occurred to me that I should just buy the supermarket apple I like best. A few months ago I discovered Rubens apples, and they are now my absolute favourite, bar none! Sweet, acid, crispy, delicious. The ones I am buying at the moment are as old as the hills (you can tell from the skin), but still wonderful to eat. I just looked to buy a tree on the web, and they are not available to the public. Boo!


  • bekkie hughesbekkie hughes Posts: 5,294
    Blueboots, post the ones you like on here, the commercial ones might not be available, but im sure some of the clever folks on here will know which ones are similar image
  • Don't forget Blackmoor, I've had some great trees from them. 

    I recently did a small orchard area near our stables, I got their special 3 pack of apples, with 1 cooker and 2 eaters, as well as a plum and pear. I already have 2 victoria so went for a mrjorie's seedling as i'd heard it recommended on gardeners Q time, Similarly i went for a beurre hardy based on the same recommendation. I already had a concorde so that will pollinate it. 

    That's one of the main things to consider is if they are self fertile or not, as that makes a difference, for apples though you can generally stick a crab apple in as that'll pollinate most others. 

    Mines on a slope too, so i made sure i put shorter trees at the top of the slope, and the less dwarfing ones at the bottom of the slope. I did this due to the sun direction so i didn';t have the tall ones at the top shading the smaller trees at the bottom. But that might not be appropriate for you. 


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