Choosing Fruit Trees in Scotland
Written by: Hamish
Published: 9th March 2019
How To Choose Fruit Trees For A Scottish Garden
A fruit tree is one of the most valuable additions that you can make to a permaculture garden and will offer immense enjoyment and likely also good yields for years to come. It can also be an integral part of a functioning and productive garden ecosystem.
When to choose?
Winter is the best time to decide on new fruit trees for your Scottish garden.
While you can purchase and plant fruit trees throughout the year, the cheapest way to buy a fruit tree is as a bare-root sapling over the dormant period between late autumn and spring. These can be planted whenever the soil is not frozen or waterlogged.
Planting the bare root trees is easy. Though it should be remembered that planting young fruit trees is an investment not for today but for the future. Depending on the age of the tree and the type, it may be a number of years before it bears fruit.
Today, gardeners can easily be overwhelmed by the huge variety of fruit trees on offer. Now the wealth of knowledge we have gained as a society in horticultural matters means that we understand which plants are best suited to the Scottish environment and have bred a wide selection of fruit trees better able to withstand our climate.
This is why, whichever sort of fruit tree you select, it is good idea to purchase it from a nursery or garden centre that is as close as possible to where you live, as this means it is more likely to be a variety that is well adapted to the conditions of your area.
Apples are a favourite fruit tree and flourish in many Scottish gardens. There are a number of varieties ideally suited to the climate, including the eating apples, Discovery, James Grieve and Sunset and cooking apples such as Lord Derby and Newton Wonder.
While there are many more varieties to choose from for many locations across Scotland, the varieties mentioned above are all suitable for frost pockets and harsher environments across the country, with frost hardy flowers – which makes them suitable where late frosts my threaten.
Pear trees, plum trees and cherry trees
Pear trees, plums and cherries are also common fruit tree choices in Scotland. Hardy varieties of each of these can be found which are suitable for growth in almost all parts of Scotland. When it comes to pears, Maggie, Grey Auchan, Concorde and Conference are all said to be good varieties for Scotland.
The Victoria plum, Czar and Early Rivers plum are all good eaters that can also do well in many Scottish gardens. Sour cherries are easier to grow in Scotland than their sweet cousins. If you are not sure about varieties, ask at the nursery or garden centre about the best options to grow where you live.
When choosing any fruit tree, it is important to know whether or not it is self-fertile. Sometimes, you will need more than one fruit tree to get a crop of fruit.
Whichever fruit trees you go for, make sure you choose the right options for where you live. Remember you are not limited to common edible fruits – there are a wide variety of unusual fruits and berries to try out in your Scottish garden.
How To Establish Soft Fruits in a Scottish Garden
Being able to pick your own soft fruits from your own garden is one of the great joys of growing your own. Large areas of Scotland have an ideal climate and conditions for soft fruits and permaculture gardeners can choose from a wide range of fruiting plants that will thrive where they live.
The first thing to do when you wish to establish fruit canes in a Scottish garden is to choose which fruits and which varieties you would like to grow. Fruit canes are excellent on the edges of a forest garden, or can even be grown in containers in a smaller space and which options will be best for you will, of course, depend on where you live and how and where you are planning to grow them.
Raspberries are of course one of the most delicious soft fruits around and are a popular choice for Scottish gardens. (If you don’t have the space to establish your own fruit canes at home, you should note that wild raspberries can be found in parts of Scotland and are abundant in the wild – great for foraging in June/ July.)
But raspberries are not the only choice when it comes to fruiting plants of this type. Tayberries, loganberries, boysenberries, jostaberries and Japanese wineberries are all similar fruiting canes that are hardy and well suited to inclusion in a Scottish permaculture garden.
In addition to all these, you can also choose thornless brambles, to make blackberry picking all that much easier. Currants and gooseberries are also fantastic additions, while blueberries or bilberries/ blaeberries will do well where the soil is acidic, as it is in much of Scotland.
Raspberries and a number of other soft fruit canes and bushes are best bought as bare root canes over the autumn/ winter or early spring, while other plants are more commonly bought throughout the year as pot-grown plants. Whichever fruiting plants you have chosen to include in your garden, it is a good idea to prepare the area for planting before you get them.
Before planting your fruiting canes and/or bushes, consider whether you will require supports for them. Especially in smaller gardens, letting raspberries wander and flop will take up too much space, and also makes them more difficult to harvest, and more likely to be eaten by rodents or other wildlife visitors before you get to them.
For a small number of canes in a small space, a tipi construction may be the best option, while a sturdier construction of wires and wooden uprights is the usual for larger gardens.
Another thing to think about when establishing your fruit garden is that it is quite likely that you will have to net your soft fruit bushes to prevent all your fruits being eaten by the birds that share your garden.
While some berries and fruits eaten by birds are ‘taxes’, sometimes, you would lose the lot if you did not offer some protection. Think about placing supports to make it easier to net before you plant anything, so as not to disturb roots at a later date.