To prune or not to prune

One aspect that attracted us to this garden when we were deciding to buy, was an arch that had formed naturally from two trees standing close to each other.  It was a pleasant feeling walking beneath them when no formal path existed and it seemed like the garden was directing us that way beneath the crossing branches. (Ignoring the 6ft high brambles, wild tangle of forsythia, grasses and nettles everywhere else).  Six years on and we have an informal grass pathway going through here past the wildlife pond and on to the boundary fence.

Looking back through photographs there are none in existence of this magical place from that period to reminisce over, but those feelings remain and this part of the garden remains my favourite.

Tree on left has failed to provide us with fruit/Tree on right has lovely large yellow fruit
that convinces us it's a Victoria Plum
Later, it transpired that these were two of a group of three plum trees.  Over the last 6 years they have periodically provided us with fruit here and there.  One of them has failed to provide any fruit as wasps seem to get there first, long before the fruit has even begun to ripen.  

This year has been different, the trees have all suffered from pocket plum which I tried unsuccessfully to tackle earlier in the year.  The Victoria from brown rot and plum rust and the unknown plum from wasp invasions.  I have been considering the drastic action of removing all three trees.  All they provide is shade around the wildlife pond and limited yet appreciated ornamental value. 

Third tree at the back produces lovely dark blue circular fruit
but was the first to suffer from Pocket Plum this year
However, having reflected on this initial thought, I have decided to prune the trees drastically.  I am going to remove all of their dead, damaged and diseased branches and take them to the green waste bin for incineration.   I'm also going to remove the branches that have signs of canker, yes I forgot to mention that earlier.  A sheer catalogue of disease that I'm not quite ready to throw the trowel in on yet.  

I want to reshape them, reduce their height so that the fruit is more accessible, and let in more light and air in to the main trunk from above and around.  I may have to say farewell to that lovely natural arch, we will have to see.  My aim is to gain more fruiting spurs next year and a heavier crop that is free from air-borne fungal infection and wasp invasions.

Thats one pruned, two to go! 
To this end I am researching the effectiveness of a decoy wasps nest that I may make from papier-mâché and stick on the shed nearby.  I'd love to know where the wasps nest is located but with many old outhouses nearby I'm never going to find their source.  

If you have stone-fruit issues I have found these informative links on the interweb that have some very helpful information and guidance:

Link 1 - detailed info from planting through to aftercare
Link 2 - helpful information on diseases and pests

If this action doesn't work then in another 2 years its chop-chop (probably).


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