Look what I found in the peach house yesterday, but only after giving the apricot fans an overly severe summer prune, a.k.a. "How to manage the cumulative effects of pre-AS level exam results stress whilst wielding a very sharp pair of Felcos."The AS results are out this morning, and Merci Beacoup Enfant Deux passed extra specially brilliantly, thank goodness. Summer pruning is another lovely horticultural routine that marks the turning of the gardening year, and encourages the development of fruiting spurs ready for next year's crop. I like the summer prune as it always lets the sunshine into the fans and espaliers, reveals fat juicy fruits just waiting to ripen, and brings such a sense of space to the peach case afterwards. I can actually walk along the cast iron path without feeling I'm fighting my way through a jungle of overgrowth. This bird clearly took the opportunity for some undisturbed nest building, incorporating some of the builders' hazard tape into her own construction site. Her nest is empty now, this year's chicks grown and gone. We have done our duty to her as gardeners, given her a place of safety, warm and dry to raise her chicks.
The standard apple and pears will not be pruned until midwinter, probably January. The standard stone fruits, or drupes, are never pruned until late spring / early summer, or between April and June, when the sap is flowing freely. This bleeding prevents the spores of the silver leaf fungus Chondrostereum purpureum (syn. Stereum purpureum) entering through recently injured surfaces such as pruning cuts, broken branches and frost cracks. The spores produce fungal threads, which grow through the living wood, killing the tissues. The fungus does not spread into the leaves and there is no danger of infection from the silvered leaves. Silver leaf fungus produces a toxin which spreads upwards in the sap and causes the cells of the upper leaf surfaces to separate, so that air accumulates between the cell layers, altering the light-reflecting qualities of the leaf and giving it a silvery appearance. Fruiting bodies develop on dead wood, forming tiers of small, purple or brown bracket-like structures with a whitish woolly upper surface. They also develop on recently exposed stumps and felled logs. The spores produced cause new infections, occurring in fruit trees from September to May.
I have peach, nectarine and apricot fans and espaliers in the peach case, the drupe next to the bird's nest is an apricot.