Apricot trees

by James Alexander-Sinclair

...[apricots] are the most divine fruit. Either straight off the tree slightly fuzzy, warmed by the sun, or in jams and pies.

Fruits on an apricot treeThere is a village near here called Aynho. It is a pretty village of the sort that you find all over England. Aynho has two main claims to fame: firstly that, after the Battle of Edgehill (during the English Civil War) King Charles I spent the night there and for that one night Aynho became the capital of Royalist England. The second is that many of the houses along the main street have thriving apricot trees trained against their walls*.

Apparently this is a practice that has been going on for hundreds of years. Apricot trees (Prunus ameniaca) grow particularly well there because of the south-western aspect and because, before the invention of the gutter, they got lots of rain - apricots need lots of water to prevent the fruit from splitting.

I mention this because more people should grow apricots. I have fond memories of an old apricot tree in my parents' garden in Wandsworth and my mother-in-law has a particularly good one trained against a wall. They are vigorous trees that get to about 3m but should be pruned like plums: never in the winter or during wet weather - for fear of silverleaf. Find them a sheltered place as they blossom quite early, so are a bit vulnerable to frosts. However, do not be scared off as there are lots of cultivars (some even from Canada) that are pretty tough - I particularly like 'Isabella' or 'Moorpark'.

Any aggravation is well worth it as they are the most divine fruit. Either straight off the tree slightly fuzzy, warmed by the sun or in jams and pies. They are much easier than peaches as they don't get the dreaded leaf curl.

Interestingly, there is a chap called Mark Diacono who has planted a lot of apricots on his farm in Devon (along with a lot of other unexpected things like pecans, olives, persimmons ans Szechuan peppers). He has had mixed success and writes about it very amusingly.

* There is also a ladies' morris dancing group called The Aynho Apricots who are available for fetes and weddings.

Discuss this blog post

Talkback: Apricot trees
Your comment will appear after a quick registration step

Gardeners' World Web User 21/07/2009 at 19:55

perhaps thin the fruit when they appear - a pair to a handspan perhaps, to give the rest a chance to grow fully and give them a little comfrey or seaweed feed every fortnight from flowering.

Gardeners' World Web User 21/07/2009 at 19:58

Lovely blog - and Im definitely off to Aynho for a look, thank you. Isabella and Moorpark are fine choices - maybe worth considering one of the ones ending in 'cot' (eg Flavourcot) if you live somewhere cooler as these flower a little later. Petit Muscat produces bunches of smaller fruit, almost like grapes, which are really good too

Gardeners' World Web User 24/07/2009 at 20:43

I used to have a lovely Apricot, one year it was so laiden with fruit it weakened the tree and the tree fell to its death,really sad. I now have a small tree hope it likes my garden as they need to be looked after, wondering whether to put it in the ground or leave in the pot.

Gardeners' World Web User 31/07/2009 at 07:44

Apricots are abundant in and around Mindya, unfortunatly not in my gardens. The ones we have been given are lovely, have made jam and pies. Dont you love this time of year

Gardeners' World Web User 22/06/2010 at 08:27

I have a lovely apricot tree in my small garden. However, the roots keep springing up shoots everywhere. Does anyone have any ideas how to prevent this. I don't want to go hacking around the roots without knowing what I'm doing as the tree is fairly large and I fear it may fall.

See more comments...