Monday, 2 February 2009

MSOG Grafting Day

This Sunday may have been one of the coldest days rural Buckinghamshire has ever seen. It was certainly the coldest day in rural Bucks that I've ever seen. A teeth-chattering, headache inducing, Narnia-esque chill, with the added threat of a blizzard for good measure. Very, very cold for sure, but thankfully I wasn't suffering alone. I was in the company of a merry band of orchardists and apple enthusiasts, all gathered at Stowe Landscape Gardens to learn the skills of Grafting. They were a friendly bunch, and hardy with it. A spirited display of 'Team Grumbling' won the day, and the freezing conditions became just about tolerable.

The ancient art of Grafting has much in common with the equally venerable skills of whittling and ...erm! cabinet making. All require the use of viciously sharp tools, a steady hand, and some basic understanding of woodwork. Uncontrollable shivering, painfully numb fingertips, and blurred vision from the bitterly cold wind are not generally conducive to the delicate carpentry required for successful grafting. To their great credit our tutors Andy and Marcus of the Midshires Orchard Group managed to demonstrate the techniques of grafting, and supervise our own fumbling efforts, without having to deal with a single amputation, disfigurement, or sticking plaster.

We all came away from the event with three newly created apple trees, chosen from a wide variety of scions, and grafted by ourselves onto a choice of several different rootstock. I chose to graft one of the Golden Harvey scions which Ny kindly sent me from Herefordshire, a very old Irish variety of dessert apple, Scarlett Crofton, and a variety called Rouge D'vere (?) which I can't find any information about.

More importantly, we all now have the confidence to graft our own trees whenever the mood takes us, and I'm itching to take a knife to the MM106 rootstock I bought from Blackmoor Nurseries recently. I may have to wait for a nicer day though. Numb fingers, a sharp knife, slippery snow, it's an accident waiting to happen.

1 comment:

Karen and Mark said...

The mystery apple has now been identified as the French dual purpose apple Calville Rouge D'Hiver. Thanks to Susan for the detective work.