Orchards are productive and pretty, growing food that you can harvest and eat, and by choosing the right plants, you can have a mini orchard in your garden no matter what size plot you have.
Here are my top plants for a mini orchard:
One of my favourites, they bring back happy childhood memories and you can’t beat the taste of the juicy red berries in the summer.
Most common are summer-fruiting raspberries which are ready for harvest in early summer, alternatively, autumn-fruiting varieties are ready for harvest in late August to October.
Pick out a well-drained, fertile spot and plant out any when the ground isn’t frozen or waterlogged.
They will grow well in containers too. The dwarf variety ‘Ruby Beauty’ is perfect for a container, if you’ve got a smaller garden. In addition, they are a thornless variety so they’re a great pick for the little ones.
These are a great choice of fruit plant that will tolerate partial shade, but their fruit will taste sweeter and ripen quicker if they have access to some sun. Bushes grown in containers can be bought all year round.
In summer, when the fruits are firm and juicy, they are ready to be harvested by cutting the whole truss and using immediately or storing in the fridge for a few days.
You could try your hand at making redcurrant jelly or preserve with your harvested crops.
Dwarf apple trees
Suitable for a small garden, dwarf fruit trees mean you get a compact size, but you don’t have to compromise on fruit.
It’s important to check the rootstock of apple trees to determine the ultimate size. Malus domestica ‘Discovery’ is a great choice for a sunny spot.
Apple trees thrive in well-drained, loam soil in a sheltered by sunny position. Buying containerised plants means that they can be planted any time of the year.
Perfect for first-time gardeners, plums are a great pick for reliable fruit. They have high demands regarding moisture, so a good, well-drained clay or loam soil is ideal.
When they are growing, the trees may need some support from wires or stakes to encourage them, depending on the variety that you choose.
Leaving your plums to ripen on the tree will give them the most marvellous flavour, and when they are soft to squeeze, they are ready to be harvested.
Sweet cherries are delicious when freshly picked or used in cooking desserts or jams. Plant out in a deep, fertile, well-drained spot, protecting them from frosts using a fleece.
They flower early in the year, so although they need protection from frost, be sure to remove the fleece during the day so pollinating insects can access them easily.
In dry weather, harvest the fruits by the stalks and eat them fresh for a delicious, sweet taste. Although if you’ve chosen an acid cherry variety, they may be too sour to eat raw, so sweeten and cook them up into a delightful dessert.
You can have a thriving orchard, that will provide you with tasty fruit to enjoy fresh or cooked into sweet treats. You may have to wait for the fruits, but they will definitely be worth it.