In pursuance of our determination to make the most of limited space, and to have a long supply of splendid fruit even if the garden be small, let us glance at the various forms of fruit tree that may be called into requisition.
The skilled trainer in the nursery takes a fruit stock in summer, inserts an Apple, or Pear, or Plum bud in the main stem of it, very much as a rosarian puts buds in the shoots of a standard Brier, and the following spring cuts off the head of the stock, leaving only a stump to support the shoot into which the bud is fast developing. In the autumn he removes the stump, leaving the Apple, or Pear, or Plum in complete possession.
By the time another year has passed the young fruit tree has been headed hard back, and has pushed a number of side shoots, which the aforesaid trainer proceeds to work into various shapes. From the "maiden" tree evolved by the budding process he will make you a bush, a pyramid, a cordon, an espalier, a palmette verrier, a fan, a "gridiron," or any other of the many shapes into which fruit trees are trained.
Digressing for a moment, it may be well to answer an imaginary question as to whether the average amateur fruit grower can cultivate and bud his own fruit stocks. He can, certainly; but I do not think he would find it economical. The various stocks employed, such as Paradise (different sorts) for Apples, Quince for Pears, Mussel and Brompton for Plums, Mahaleb for Cherries, and so forth, are not in retail commerce. It is easy to get them in thousands for trade purposes, but not so easy to procure them in dozens for private gardens. Moreover, fruit trees are now so cheap that if the time devoted to cultivating and budding stocks in the home garden is taken into account, as it ought to be in order to arrive at a proper basis of calculation, nothing whatever is saved by doing the work privately.
Another question: Does it pay to raise fruit trees from seed or cuttings? At the risk of conveying disappointment to the large number of gardening novices who love to save pips from the Apples which they eat, sow them, and then worry experts for opinions on the merit of the resulting fruit (if any ever does result), I must express an opinion that seedling fruit culture is a delusion and a snare. I have had hundreds of fruits submitted to me by proud raisers, but I have never yet seen a promising novelty; and my diplomatic resources have been taxed to the utmost in order to soften the blow of an adverse opinion. The seedlings may be used for grafting with reliable sorts, but, of course, the average novice is not satisfied with that. He wanted to raise something that would put Lane's Prince Albert Apple, or Cox's Orange Pippin, into the shade, and he is an injured and a disappointed man. As for raising fruit trees from cuttings - well if you want to amuse yourself for several years by watching trees grow and grow, and produce little or nothing except magnificent crops of leaves, go in for the cuttings system; if you want a quick crop of fine fruit, leave the amusement to your neighbour. You will be able to make him presents of large, richly coloured fruit, and he will be able to return the compliment with beautiful branches.
Reverting to the different forms of fruit trees, we have bushes, pyramids, and standards for open quarters; and cordons, espaliers, fans, etc., for walls, fences, and wire supports.
A: a, a maiden tree (one year old from the bud or graft); b, growths as they would push from an unpruned tree in the second year; c, point of pruning or "heading" to secure growths for forming the head of the tree.
B, the tree in the first year's training or that following the "heading" all the growths being removed but three of the best situated and most promising: d, stock; e, stem portion of budded or grafted variety; f, sturdy growths forming the basis of head; g, points of winter pruning.
C, the tree in the second year of training; h, sturdy growths, two from each branch; i, spur, not to be pinched; j, shoot stopped at third leaf and lateral pinched at first leaf.