What to do about a much-loved tree? Previous item The Smell of Spring

A much loved tree

What to do with a much loved tree that has outgrown the garden? Our much loved Bramley apple tree was a gift from my sister on our wedding day. It grew along with our family, providing the filling for many an apple crumble over the years and my young son became an expert at climbing amongst it’s branches to pick the fruit.

Twenty years later and the tree was huge, almost shading our south facing garden completely and if I’m honest I couldn’t give the glut of apples away.

I’ve become much more ruthless in my garden, plants have two chances, but this was different, it was a wedding present.

After much soul-searching we bit the bullet and in our 20th anniversary year the tree was removed, save a section of trunk to be carved into an apple.

Along with removing a diseased crab apple (nearly as much sentimental angst, memories of jars of homemade crab apple jelly etc) the garden is transformed.

So much light! New trees have been planted, a Pyrus calleryana ‘Chanticleer’, which works hard in a small garden with blossom in spring and stunning autumn colour, a small standard Ligustrum lucidum ‘Variegata’ for evergreen structure and I’ve taken the opportunity to rejuvenate the planting and try out new cultivars.

Inspired by the changes last year, this month the enormous conifer (another mistake) has made some excellent kindling and the orange stems of Salix integra ‘Hakuro Nishiki’ shine proudly in it’s place. This will be pollarded each year to manage the shape and provide fresh stems for the brightest winter colour and pink spring growth.

The change is remarkable and I’m totally in love with the garden again. The moral of the story; gardens are meant to evolve. Don’t battle year after year trying to manage a plant that is in the wrong place, if it can’t be moved, take the plunge and embrace the opportunity to try something new.