Winter pruning of Apples and Pears – a very fruitful day at Earth Trust in Oxfordshire

IMG_3008On my way this morning to Oxfordshire, just off the quiet M40 motorway at J7 and into the great quiet expanse of this beautiful county. Windmills, golden stone, thatched rooves. Pretty as a Picture. And a note for a stop-over next time I venture this way, or perhaps over to Waterperry Gardens which are not far…

IMG_3010Not today, Le Manoir, but not that far from home really and they do gardening courses too I’m sure… But I passed by, crossing the Thames at Clifton Hampden over a delightful (once tolled) bridge designed by Sir George Gilbert Scott (

IMG_3024IMG_3013IMG_3030… before heading up the only rise in the landscape to the Earth Trust Centre where the day’s events were planned.

IMG_3050IMG_3095Our classroom for the day (above, not below)

IMG_3096The centre has a commanding 360° panorama from this slight promintory over the surrounding countryside, hardly warmed by the emerging sun.

IMG_3068I was here for a day learning more about winter pruning of fruit trees, apples and pears in particular, in the company of 20 other enthusiastic folk and the undoubted Expert, Andrew Howard of The Heritage Fruit Tree Co., together with the very helpful team at the Earth Trust; a complete what, how, where and when –

  1. A Brief History of Pruning
  2. Why we Prune
  3. How to differentiate Fruit and Growth Buds
  4. Formative Pruning
  5. Rejuvenating & Renovating Older Trees
  6. Summer vs Winter Pruning
  7. Rootstocks demystified
  8. Outdoor Practical – Health & Safety, Tools, Correct Cutting Techniques
  9. An Orchard – or a single tree – the benefits for Wildlife

and 10. A most important lesson learned  – How a glass of wine/beer or cup of tea will help your pruning technique….

Here we all are in the small orchard (no drinks, though some mulled wine would not have gone amiss in the chill wind!)

IMG_3102IMG_3088IMG_3094IMG_3112and here, the tree that had some attention from my pruning saw and secateurs…

IMG_3108A thoroughly enjoyable day, with much learned and an opportunity to put some of it into practise – perhaps rashly on the part of the organisers – I might have feared for their fruit crop this year had we not been so well tutored!

I’ll be condensing some of the points we tackled today in a blog soon – there are just a couple of months to tackle this important work before the sap begins to rise and the time for winter pruning is past. Of course, there is summer pruning to consider – a different beast altogether, but there is definitely time for that.

Links –      @earth_trust


Andy Howard in action at Westonburt


Horticulturalist Chris Beardshaw uncovers the British contribution to the history of this most iconic fruit – an hour!


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