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Sara Draycott

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Warm wet winter in the Orchard at Wisley - Jim Arbury

Posted by Sara Draycott on 04 Feb 2014 at 12:22 PM

This is probably the warmest winter I have experienced (although this may change) and certainly the wettest. It has been quite pleasant pruning at Wisley (not wearing as many layers as usual at this time of year). However the implications of the weather are worrying. Everywhere seems to be wet which can cause root damage especially if the ground is flooded. I am also concerned about the lack of winter chill. Hardy plants including fruit plants need a period of winter chill before bud break and flowering. This is often 1000 hours or more between 0 and 7 C. Lack of winter chill can result in erratic flowering.


We are keen to plant bare root fruit trees in particular some plums and some cider apples but we have to wait. If you are also waiting to plant do not worry it is important to plant only when conditions are suitable. Bare rooted trees can be planted into early March. Our trees are healed in in a drier area of ground until conditions improve. Meanwhile pruning continues. I have carried out pruning instruction to RHS trainees and staff at Harlow Carr two weeks ago and will be at Rosemoor this week.

Conditions seem similar at the other gardens at the moment. Walking the orchard this morning I found the buds of the early flowering pears were already beginning to move so some cooler weather to hold back bud burst would be useful. Whatever the weather spring is getting nearer.

Jim Arbury 3/2/2014


Georgio said:

14mm of rain on the way today...

The bottom of my garden is now underwater for two or three months a year. Two horse chestnuts  have the weeping cankeer disease. I think the persistent water may be partly responsible. My monkey puzzle tree died - I think from having its feet in water in the winter. And one of my apple trees blew over when the ground was waterlogged.

I live a mile and a half from Wisley as the crow flies - on a hill (relatively) but the drainage is so bad that the water just sits there.

Local authorities seem to have no idea about water management. And as for the Suitable Drainage Systems legislation - they just postpone it indefinitely...

on 06 Feb 2014 at 09:26 AM