I did a bad thing. I made a promise, and I broke it. I said I wouldn’t do it again, but I lied and my actions have consequences. I’ve gone and bought another tree.
Back in March 2016, when I bought my fourth tree for the garden, a ‘Brown Turkey’ Fig Tree, Agent Soph was showing serious concern. I understood her worries, we live in a terraced cottage with a very narrow garden, there is only so much you can grow here. We have flowers, shrubs, bushes, herbs, fruit, climbers, a plum tree, a cherry tree, a crab apple tree, a fig tree…
…and now a Conference pear tree.
For the last few months, in the dead of night, when the house is still and everyone’s in bed, I’ve reached for the laptop. Like Gollum and his ring, the laptop has been ‘my precious’, temping me with treasures I dare not mention in daylight hours. Going to websites I know I should avoid, tempting me with their fruits, teasing me with their blousy blossoms. And when it all became too much, I would quickly delete my browsing history, close the laptop and mop my brow, safe in the knowledge that my secret was hidden.
But one night in late February, immersed in my dark ritual, I came across the most alluring of trees: a Conference pear, grown on semi-dwarf root. I mean, it was so attractive. Just one more tree wouldn’t hurt, would it? It wouldn’t grow too big, and I had the perfect spot in the garden for it.
Before I knew it, the credit card was out, payment was made, and I was dizzy with excitement. However, there was something at the back of my mind: gardeners’ guilt.
Days passed and I quickly forgot about my little indiscretion. Returning home one night after work, I walked through the front door and it hit me. Standing in my way was a cardboard monolith. Tall and upright, the delivery had been made, I had been outed.
Agent Soph took it well, but she was concerned. ‘We have the room,’ I tried to assure her.
Truth is, we do. Our garden in broken into three sections. Near the house, we have two raised beds filled with plants and shrubs, divided by a winding path. The path reaches a patio, surrounded by climbing plants. Steps lead down from the patio to the sunken garden. This is where Sophie likes to read and where I do a lot of daydreaming, surrounded by the cherry tree, the fig tree, and… er… now the pear tree.
As well as the pear tree, I’m re-designing the planting, and have put in some ferns, foxgloves and Acanthus spinosus & mollis. There’s quite a bit of shade here, so this type of planting should work well. In a few years when the trees have developed, I’m aiming for an almost semi-shaded woodland feel.
I dug a hole nearly twice the diameter of the roots, I added a little compost to the base and sprinkled a little mycorrhizal fungi over the roots and the base of the hole. This should give the tree a helping hand to establish strong roots. With the tree in the ground, I placed a wooden stake next to the hole and hammered in. As it’s a bare root tree, I can afford to place the stake upright. If the tree had come in a pot, I would have placed the stake on an angle away from the tree, as not to damage the potted roots.
Filling in the hole bit by bit, I heeled in the tree at various stages. Ensuring the grafting point of the root and tree was exposed and above the soil line (to prevent rot), I watered it in well, covered the area in a mulch and carefully tied the tree to its support. Job done. For the next few months, I’ll continue to keep it well-watered and weed-free.
My addiction has been sedated and calm has returned to Agents of Field HQ with the promise that this will be my final tree.