CHERRY ripe, cherry ripe.These words conjure up lots of images for us English, with songs, paintings and stories being created to celebrate the rich red fruits that are so common at this time of year.
With cherries ripening on trees across our region at the moment, and fresh cherries beginning to appear in supermarkets, it’s enough to make your mouth water. In fact, it’s enough to make you go out and buy your own cherry tree. There are two main groups of cultivated cherries – sweet cherries that are edible straight from the tree and acid (sour) cherries that need cooking and preserving.
One of the biggest problems for anyone growing fruiting cherry trees, whether commercially or in you own garden, is that most of the rootstocks that they are grafted onto are vigorous and so help to develop large trees that are difficult to protect from frost and birds and are difficult to harvest.
The best semi-dwarfing rootstock currently available is Gisela 5 and this will help to keep your tree to a manageable size, although you might look out for Hexaploid Colt that is nearly as good.
If it is grafted onto Colt, Krymsk, Mahaleb or Mazzard, you will find the tree difficult to control in the small to medium sized garden. The other important factor for us amateur gardeners is to ensure that we choose a self-fertile cultivar so that we do not have to have two different cherry trees in the garden.
Finally, if you intend to plant one against a wall or fence, remember that cherries are early flowering and so will need frost protection – try them, fan trained on a south-west or west facing aspect but avoid east or south-east.
Sweet cherry cultivars worthy of consideration include Lapins, Celeste, May Duke, Stella and Sunburst. Acid cherries to search out are Morello and Nabella.