Well, another mild-ish winter, and only (only?!) one young tree failed to make it through the winter. Our Shropshire Prune looked fine, and to all intent and purpose, was waiting to come alive once the weather warmed up, but it never did. It honestly looked like it had been preserved – only a branch snapping off rather than bending proved the theory – it was an ex-tree. And as I dug it out to take back to the house to burn, it became apparent just how “ex” this tree was, as the trunk snapped off at the base! Now the puzzling thing is that this tree budded last year, and we had leaves. There was no sign of illness, it dropped its leaves in autumn along with the rest, but never woke up! It was never the biggest or healthiest looking, but it had a fair few scaffold branches formed.
As ever, we’ve planted an apple tree in its place, in case there’s anything specific to plum trees in the ground. Luckily we had a reserve of year-old grafted trees, and another Old Merrybower was chosen to take the now vacant spot. It’s a pot-grown tree so we can get away with planting it at this later stage of spring, but we need to keep an eye on the watering. The Old Merrybower’s aren’t an early blossom tree, and the fact it was one of the last standing standard trees from the old farm orchard gives me hope that it has the necessary fortitude to withstand the Merrybower winds and rains!
On the plus side, we have another Shropshire Prune (labelled as Shropshire Damson on the Orchard Plan), which is slightly higher and drier ground, and which is now almost finished its blossom.