By Jill | September 18th, 2010

Hello – what a year this is proving for fruit. In 18 years in this industry – I have NEVER seen fruit trees so laden. Are your trees nearly bent double??

Mine certainly are – and that is after all the careful management and thinning I put into them!!!!

Everything is just stuffed – from plums to pears – to Quinces.

With the gales earlier in the week – there has been some branch breakage – but generally the fruit has held on pretty well – although it may look initally alarming to see some of the branches weeping to the ground – they will spring back up into shape once the fruit is picked -and if they do not – you can still remove them when doing your annual winter prune.

Why is there such a bounteous harvest this year??

A combination of strong quality blossom – followed by an excellent growing season – with just the right amount of sun and rainfall has kept things pretty rosy for them.

Tomorrow – SUNDAY 19th – we are exhibiting at the PLANT HERITAGE PLANT FAIR at HELMINGHAM HALL. This is our one and only forray into the Plant Sale world- simply being too busy to attend most of them.

This is an excellent sale – it is open from 10.00 – 4.30 – Helmingham is a fabulous site – on the B1077 just outside Debenham – it is Brown – Tourist Board Signed – an ancient mansion with a fabulous garden and park – last year there were 46 stands with different nurseries – selling everything you could ever want for your garden!!

We will be there with our fruit trees and shrubs – so do come and say Hello!!!



By Jill | September 18th, 2010

Hello – have you pruned your plum trees yet?? If not – you need to get your skates on – the end of September is the latest date you can safely prune them – before winter – and still give them time to heal up the cuts.
The problem with pruning any stone fruit – and I include cherries,greengages and damsons in this – is that their wood is soft – and if pruned in winter when the sap is not actively flowing – they cannot repel infection – this will lead to the dreaded Silver Leaf Disease or Bacterial Canker getting in – and that will eventually prove terminal for any tree.
So get them done now – this weekend if poss – do bear in mind though that they do not require spur pruning like apples and pears – all that is usually necessary is to remove one or two larger branches to increase air-circulation – and help remove Brown Rot (See My earlier post on that) – and improve fruit size. The easiest and best rule with these is – to start obviously remove any broken branches – and my Victoria had broken several this year with the heavy crop – also anything that is old and thin is best taken out – other than that – take out crossing stuff – and keep the centre open – I tend to do about 8 cuts on my tree at the most.
Talking about pruning – our PRUNING COURSES are filling up fast – if you intend to come and spend a morning with Graeme and myself learning about fruit tree pruning or shrub pruning – you need to book with the office quickly – places are limited – the dates are NOVEMBER 10TH OR 18TH – this is also open to RHS members – so there will be no possibility of just turning up on the day!!!
If you have never been on a course – and are not sure about it – do come along – it is GREAT FUN – and you will learn a lot – we are very FRIENDLY PEOPLE here you know – yes really!!


By Jill | September 10th, 2010

Hello – the beauty of AUTUMN COLOUR – how we love it!! There has been a subtle change at the nursery over the last week – with the cooler nights – and nippy mornings – plus the shortening days – this triggers a change in our plants – and they begin to withdraw some of the chemicals and hormones back into their trunks and branches – causing a breakdown of the green leaf into wonderful pigments of red and orange – giving us A FABULOUS SHOW.

Many of the ACERS – members of the MAPLE family are starting to colour up – as the photo at the top shows –

It is still early – and over the next month – every day – new tints and colours are revealed – in many ways it is the HARVEST period of the nursery – the farmers have their golden fields of corn – and here at CROWN NURSERY – we have our AUTUMN COLOUR and the ripening APPLES – or perhaps I am just an old romantic at heart!!

People often ask which is the best plant for autumn colour – but it really depends on what effect you are trying to achieve – and also your soil. Those on drier sandy soil – slightly on the acidic side will get far more of the orange and red tints than those on wetter clay soil – whose autumn colour tends to be far more towards the yellow side of the spectrum.
However – the creme de la creme if you have a neutral to acid soil has to be LIQUIDAMBAR – The Sweet Gum. As the photo below shows – a STUNNER!! It also has a very ornamental bark too!! This tree – unlike most – starts it’s autumn colour on one lower branch and the effect then floods over the rest of the tree – giving a much longer period of colour.

The photo just above that is of AMELANCHIER – but grown on sandy soil – on a heavy clay -it will have yellow autumn colour.

Colour also seems to vary from plant to plant – and in some trees – there will always be stronger autumn colour on some types than others, for the best autumn colour on trees – FRAXINUS ‘RAYWOOD’ (Claret Ash), QUERCUS RUBRA (Red Oak), PYRUS COMMUNIS (Wild Pear) and even our dear common little SPINDLE – EUONYMUS EUROPAEUS – with it’s stange fruit shown below – will oblige in most years.

It’s an exciting time – early autumn – and certainly not a time to shut up shop in your garden and prepare for winter – there is much colour to come – from berries to bark – from foliage to fruits – come and see for yourself!!


By Jill | September 10th, 2010

Hello, – as the season moves into autumn – we are already into our forward planning for our Apple Day – our most busy and popular event of the year!!

If you have never been before we have a lot of fun!! I think I can best describe it as a Celebration of All Things Apple!! We have apple related games – we can offer advice on selection and pruning of apples trees – and most importantly for some – we have a MEGA APPLE TASTING marquee!!!

Last year, we had 107 different varieties available for tasting – and the target this year is 110!!!

Do come down and see us – it is a totally free event – refreshments are available – and the day runs from 10-4.



By Jill | September 4th, 2010

Hello – what a wonderful week this has been!! The first week of September – and we have had some superb weather – blue skies – and gentle warmth – I love September – the beginning of autumn – but still with that hint of the summer. I should think just about everyone has enjoyed this week – from holiday makers to farmers getting in the harvest – to us gardeners enjoying the lush growth.

Some difference to the weather last week – I was away on holiday in Ireland – where the weather was exactly as now – but back home in Suffolk – over 2 and a half inches of rain fell – together with gale-force winds – typhoons and goodness knows what else. When I returned to the nursery this week – parts of it looked like a re-enactment of the Battle of the Somme!!! Broken trees, damaged branches – support structures twisted and buckled – so much for August!

The beauty of September is that the soil is warm after the summer – but certainly this year – has plenty of moisture enabling an early start to autumn planting schemes. Trees and shrubs planted now will root very quickly – and establish themselves before the colder weather sets in.

We are already taking orders for hedging and fruit trees – the new HEDGING CATALOGUE is now available at the nursery – our new TREE CATALOGUE is also out – and the fruit catalogue is the next for a makeover.

A lot of plants are looking good at the moment – but one of our favourites is the ornamental crab apple – MALUS ‘JOHN DOWNIE’ – as the photo at the top of the page shows – this is a great tree for any garden – masses of scented apple blossom in the spring – and a profusion of large flagon-shaped orange crab apples in autumn – ideal for making crab-apple jelly!! As an extra bonus – this tree is also an excellent POLLINATOR for dessert and cooking apples.

Talking of apples – the APPLE-TASTING SHED is proving popular as always – there are new varieties ripening every week – currently we have DISCOVERY,TYDEMANS EARLY WORCESTER,BAKERS DELICIOUS,GRENADIER,REV.W. WILKS and SAINT EDMUNDS PIPIPN for customers to taste – and I will add more as they come into season.

This really is one of the best times of the year to look and plan for your autumn planting schemes – many of the trees are displaying great berries and the first signs of autumn colour will be with us soon – the late-summer flowering shrubs are still going great guns – everything is gearing up for a FABULOUS AUTUMN!!

Make sure you don’t miss out!!


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