Fruit trees need to be trained. This is mainly done by appropriate pruning. There are many possible purposes for which fruit trees are trained. It may be to produce a special form of mainly ornamental value such as an espalier, it may be just to produce an attractive free standing tree in the middle of lawn or it may be to produce trees suitable for a modern commercial orchard in which case issues such as maximising crop per acre and ease of orchard management are the main concern. In all cases the trees have to be trained from the very start to achieve the desired result.
Allowing fruit trees to just grow “naturally” may sound good but in practice is not at all a good option. Fruit trees are woodland species and their natural tendency is to grow as tall as possible to out-compete neighbouring trees. The fruit they produce is intended for birds and tree climbing animals such as squirrels not humans on the ground. If you look around country hedgerows you will see tall damson, cherry plum or crab apple tree of this kind which may look pretty in a hedgerow but would be neither attractive nor practical in a garden setting. To produce the kind of fruit tree that suits us from both practical and aesthetic points of view it is essential to train the tree.
We supply untrained one year old maiden trees or two year old trees which we have already started training towards a particular form. The one year maidens are a blank canvas suitable for training into whatever form you wish subject to the choice of a suitable rootstock (more on this later but you can refer to the rootstock table for a summary of suitability for various forms). You would need to start the training of these trees from the first year that you plant them.
The two year old trees we supply will have been trained towards a particular form at the nursery. The initial training has been done but you need to continue the training. If you are buying a two year old tree you need to be sure it is in the form that you require. With some minor exceptions such trees would not be suitable for retraining into another form.
Please click on the links below for details of each of the tree forms.