Category Archives: Wall and Screening Plants

Growing Peaches On Walls

The peach is a hardy fruit, tougher than it looks. It will grow and ripen fruit successfully even in the north of England, given a south-facing wall. In the south it is often grown as a bush, but even there it grows better fan-trained against a wall or fence. The wall needs to be 2.1-2.4 m (7-8 ft) high, and 4.6m (15 ft) should be allowed for the spread of the fan when the tree is fully grown. Peregrine’, the most popular variety for growing outdoors, has a red skin, and ripens at the beginning of August. ‘Rochester’, which has apricot-coloured skin flushed with crimson and yellow flesh, ripens later, and should not be planted in the north. ‘Duke of York’, with yellow skin flushed with crimson, which ripens in July, deserves to be more widely planted, since it produces large, juicy fruit of fine flavour. Its only snag is that it is rather more vigorous than the others, and produces a large tree, but it should do well on less favoured sites.

Growing Peaches On Walls

General care: Peaches will grow in any well-drained soil, preferably with a little lime, although too much can cause chlorosis. A south-facing wall is best, especially in the north, or one with a western aspect. A northerly aspect is too cold, and an east-facing wall or fence can lead to frost damage to the flower buds. Prepare the wall with a series of horizontal wires about 25 cm (10 inches) apart, and plant three-year-old fan-trained trees early in

November. It is a good idea to collect the trees personally to make sure you get well-trained specimens.

Give a thick mulch of well-rotted compost immediately after planting, and if the first summer is dry, water the young tree. Prune every February, cutting back to buds pointing in the right direction for continuing the fan shape, tie in the shoots to the wires, and in summer remove any young shoots that are going in the wrong direction, into or away from the wall, or not maintaining the fan pattern.

Peaches fruit on the previous year’s wood, and once they start producing, prune each autumn by cutting out the wood which has just fruited to a point just above the replacement lateral, which may then need tying to the wire. Maintain the fan shape at all times, since this keeps the tree fruiting by ensuring that the shoots are growing diagonally across the wall. Thin the fruits at the end of May, and again at the end of June if necessary, so you are left with peaches spaced about 22.5 cm (9 inches) apart.

Propagation: Peaches can be grown successfully from seeds, including stones saved from fruit imported from, say, France, by planting the stones either direct into the ground where they are to grow, or into pots of compost for planting out later. The resulting trees will grow, often more strongly than budded or grafted trees, but the fruit may or may not be as good as the named varieties reproduced vegetatively by budding or grafting.

Pests and diseases: Birds will peck the ripening fruit, allowing it to be eaten by wasps. Net the tree if this is a problem. Peach leaf curl is the main disease: the leaves get unsightly red blisters, twist and curl, and then drop off. The disease is difficult to control, because the spores overwinter in the shelter of the buds. Spray with Bordeaux mixture just as the buds begin to open in the spring, and again a fortnight later, and again just before leaf-fall in the autumn. Bacterial canker and silver leaf sometimes affect peaches— see under cherry.

Growing Grapes Against Walls

Since the 1960s there has been a great upsurge of interest in the growing of grapes outdoors, with hundreds of acres being planted for wine-making. Unfortunately, the long, hot dry summers which vines love are rare in Britain, and in some years virtually no wine has been produced from all these acres. The owner ofContinue Reading

Growing Figs Against Walls

The fig is the least hardy of all the fruits grown outdoors in Britain and the northern States. It is at the limit of viability, and needs all the help it can get in the way of a sunny, sheltered, south-facing wall, if it is to produce and ripen its fruit. It does well inContinue Reading

Growing Cherries On Walls

There are two groups of cherries – add and sweet. Both grow best on a wall when they are fan-trained. Acid cherries are the more commonly planted, because they are easier to manage, are self-fertile, and come into bearing earlier, usually when they are five or six years old. They are also happy on aContinue Reading

Apricots As Wall Fruits

Apricots are the most difficult of all the fruit grown outdoors in more northerly latitudes. They are only just hardy, and in the north of England, for example, will succeed only if they have the protection of a conservatory, or a lean-to greenhouse on the side wall of a house. In the south, they needContinue Reading

Wall Fruits – Apples

Apples are perfectly hardy in this country, but given the protection of a wall some of the finest varieties, such as ‘Cox’s Orange Pippin’, will succeed in the north of England when they would not do so in the open garden. Apples make very pretty wall trees everywhere, in fact, with their blossom in springContinue Reading

Viburnum Evergreen And Deciduous Shrubs

The viburnum genus includes a very wide variety of evergreen and deciduous shrubs, flowering in winter, spring and summer. Some are grown for their flowers, some for their berries, some for their colourful autumn leaves, and some for all three. Certain species are best grown as bushes, but many make excellent wall shrubs – althoughContinue Reading

Snowberry – Symphoricarpos

The symphoricarpos, or snowberry, is a useful hedging or screening plant that will grow practically anywhere, producing in the autumn large white berries like marbles, lasting through most of the winter. S. albus is an evergreen growing up to 2.1 m (7 ft) or taller under good soil conditions. Of the cultivars, ‘Laevigatus’ has evenContinue Reading

Rhododendron – Rhododendron Ponticum

Rhododendron ponticum is an evergreen, hardy shrub which is so easy to grow in the right lime-free conditions that it has become naturali7ed in many of our woodlands, and people often think of it as a native wild plant, although in fact it was introduced from Spain and Asia Minor. With its natural height ofContinue Reading

Pyracantha – Firethorn

Pyracantha, or firethorn, is a popular wall shrub grown chiefly for its fire-coloured berries, although its flowers are not unattractive. It is evergreen and hardy, so does not need the protection of a wall, but it does seem to go naturally with a wall, being slow growing and easy to train, and having dense vegetationContinue Reading