The quinces of the courtyard begin to flower; they are always beautiful. I should have planted Cydonia elongated ‘Serbian Gold’ which is much less susceptible to downy mildew than ‘Vranja’, but discovered it too late.
However, good hygiene works wonders – raking and burning diseased leaves and fruit – but can take a few years to work. Commercial growers can use fungicides, such as Signum.
The disease likes high humidity and poor air circulation, so I remove significant branches in summer (pruning in winter tends to increase vegetative growth); it also allows more light to reach the plants below.
At this time of year, I really relish the windbreak I planted the first week of April 1984. A thousand little grafts just over a foot tall, planted in snowy blizzards of April – much too late, much too cold – but I was patient.
Now the star of the mix is wild cherry, avian prunus, supposedly I think because the birds distribute the stones. We certainly had to put covers over our chimneys to prevent them all from falling into the chimney pots. But the mass of white flowers is now visible from inside the courtyard as the canopies have stretched up and out – and the bugs are in heaven.
You can also now lean from a first floor platform that used to be a hayloft and pick some lovely sweet red cherries in the summer. I didn’t realize the wild cherry tree had edible fruit, but the trees are obviously grown from seed because different trees have different fruiting characteristics. Some are dark red, almost black, others are letterbox red.
Most trees have very sweet fruit, none as large as commercially grown cherries, but a sensation nonetheless. Because the trees are now so tall, the harvest is massive and so there is plenty for the birds and for us.
Cherry trees do not have a long lifespan, but they regenerate well from seed in any available space, as do field maple and ash. Another satisfying aspect of my windbreak is that I notice that it is now displayed as a forest on the latest OS map, wrapping neatly around our farm buildings and my neighbour’s newer ones – he kindly let me plant trees on uncultivated plots of his land between the farmlands. buildings.