Garden apprentice, Millie, shares all about the craft of the graft!
It’s that time of the year again! Fulham Palace is preparing for one of their most popular events, Apple day – bringing families and friends together to celebrate apples of all shapes and sizes in the many ways they can be used, and have been for thousands of years. No wonder they get a day named after them! Who doesn’t love a crunchy apple, or maybe you prefer them juiced? Or in a pie?
There are more than 7,500 cultivars of apples worldwide, all bred for different sizes, tastes, textures and uses – whether it’s a sweet eater straight from the tree or cooking apples (which have a lower sugar content than eaters, tend to be tarter and store better!) to make your favourite pudding.
Unfortunately, when grown from seed, apples tend to differ greatly from the parent plant, which is unhelpful if trying to retain certain desired characteristics, so grafting (fusing the tissues of two different plants together) is often practised.
Back in early March, all the gardeners took cuttings from the orchard and we were taught the craft of grafting by Lucy the Head gardener, which was a very valuable and specialist training session! We attached our cuttings (the scion) of the orchards named cultivars using sharp, clean knives to make the correct cuts on top of apple rootstocks (a stem with a good root system), ensuring they were bound together tightly with grafting tape, to then be left to fuse over the next few months.
Many of them were successful as we could see our cuttings were beginning to grow very well, it was amazing to watch the process. When taking cuttings and grafting, you will be growing an exact clone of the mother plant, meaning if the fusion is successful you will get exactly the plant you want!
These apple trees are growing very well now, and you can buy some of Fulham Palaces own grown apple trees on Apple day, alongside delicious preserves and the real deal – apples harvested from our orchard. There will be lots of other fun stalls to explore, live music and games! Why not sign up to learn how to make a beautiful autumnal wreath! See you there…?
Learn more about the upcoming Apple day festivities here.