The Greengage which was planted five years ago and is now about 9ft tall has died. I am puzzled as the buds were showing and it started to leaf, I went away for two weeks and when I got back it was totally dead. The other fruit trees - damson, pear, apple and cherry are all in full leaf, in fact the damson is fruiting. I cannot think why this should be and in such short a time.
Post by Cotham Marble on Jun 15, 2016 12:39:45 GMT
I suspect that your tree was already effectively dead before you went away. While fungal attack can produce sudden death my guess given your location is that the culprit was a rapid freeze/thaw cycle, which is particularly a problem in early Spring when a deciduous tree is begining to move fluid and nutrients upwards. In deep winter fluids are held back so that any freezing effect is limited, in Spring when the vesicles in the trunk are becoming engorged rapid freezing can cause them to rupture and the upper part of the plant becomes starved of moisture and dies. I'm not sure but I believe that root grafted trees are more vulnerable to this effect, also north of the UK is pretty much the limit of prunus survival, certainly wild distribution of prunus domestica is significantly reduced in numbers north of a line from Glasgow to Edinburgh and P. spinosa becomes thin on the ground in the West, north of Oban
You could try leaving the tree in place to see if it might recover, or cutting the trunk back by a metre or so, but I think this will likely be in vain, probably the best thing to do is lift it, check that there are no signs of fungus under the lower bark, or disease like canker begining to appear, and then plan on a replacement. Obviously if there is fungus present then you may need to take preventative measures to protect your other trees, in any case I would suggest not putting a prunus species in the same location. You may find that the root stock is still alive and that death has occured only above the graft, the root stock will be wild plum(ish) or something derived more directly from P. spinosa, which will probably survive lifting at the this time of year if you wanted to replant it for ornamental or wildlife purposes elsewhere.
The Online Atlas of the British and Irish flora www.brc.ac.uk/plantatlas/index.php?q=title_page is a great resource for indicating what species might be suitable where - not that most gardeners won't try pushing the boundaries just to see if their favourite species just might work where common sense says no !
I know of a greengage in Gairloch and while it never looks dead in any year I have known years when it appears to be semi dormant - it produces leaves but no flowers, and obviously no fruit. Gairloch is probably about 100 miles further north than where you are Helen I think its weather is probably milder.
Unless there is some obvious disease (or the tree could become potential dangerous) I think it would be best to leave it for a while and see what happens.
Thank you CM your advice is always invaluable. I had to smile at your last sentence as when I first moved here I went mad planting fruit trees and plants and shrubs, I even transported plants, shrubs and all my house plants and virtually non survived, it took quite a few years of trial and error before I had the sense to find a grower who had developed or only grew plants that survive the weather here, all their plants are grown in the open, no greenhouses or polly tunnels. They are growers on The Black Isle, true they are on the East coast, but weather near enough. They were very good with their advice in their catalogue, well more a list of plants, no pictures. I also learnt not to plant anything until June, and even that can be a bit dodgy at times.
I have had one success though. I planted 40 hazelnut, the idea being to hedge part way up one side of the driveway, but leaving 3 or 4 in between to grow full height and they are coming along fine.
As a bye the bye. The grasses you suggested are all coming up nicely, apart from the area where the sods kept turning their cars, there are still four where it was recommended not to sow till the autumn. Some of the wild flowers are coming up too as is rose bay willow herb, which I did not plant, what has surprised me slightly is the amount of male fern, mind you it does grow at weed proportions here. So again thank you for your advice.