Well, as I was on the road to the orchard design, I was advised by a friendly chap called Peter May, to visit this website, which has a great section on choosing apple trees. I’ve copied this text so it’s directly reproduced from the website, sourced 30.04.14. It’s linked if you click the picture above:
Help & Advice from Keepers Nursery
It is very important to choose trees suited for your requirements. The following is a guide to help you make the best use of our website in making your choice.
This is mainly a matter of individual preference. You will find a considerable amount of descriptive information on hundreds of varieties in our database to help you choose. If you are new to growing fruit trees you may find our pages on recommended fruit trees useful.
The Fruit Characteristics and the Varieties with Special Qualities features in Advanced Search enable you to narrow down your choice to varieties with characteristics that you require. If you are interested in varieties from a particular region or historical period the Origin and Date features on Advanced Search can help you make a selection.
You also need to consider climate and other local conditions in making your choice, particularly if your local conditions unfavourable in some respect. The Varieties Suitable for Special Situations feature in Advanced Search will help you select varieties suitable for your particular location.
Disease resistance is also important, particularly if you wish to grow your fruit organically or if you live in a part of the country where the climate favours certain diseases. The Disease Resistance feature of Advanced Search will help you select the right varieties in this respect.
Fruit trees are propagated onto rootstocks. The rootstock is the most important factor in determining the vigour and eventual size of the tree. The difference in size can be quite dramatic. For example an apple tree on a very dwarfing rootstock may grow to an eventual height and spread of only 5 ft (1.5 m) while the same variety of apple on a vigorous rootstock grows into a large tree over 20 ft (6.5 m) in height and spread. The choice of rootstock is therefore very important as it will determine the suitability of the tree for the position and the form in which you intend to grow it.
For details of the different rootstocks and a summary of their advantages and disadvantages please click here to go to the rootstocks page.
Do I need a pollinator?
Some fruit trees are self-fertile and will produce a good crop on their own. Most however, require or will benefit from a pollination partner. The pollination partner must be a different variety of the same fruit species which flowers at about the same time and is compatible in other respects. Our database provides you with a very easy and quick method of finding suitable pollination partners. By clicking Show Suitable Pollination Partners on the descriptive page of a variety, you can see a full list of pollinators for that variety.
What age and form?
We supply mainly one and two year old trees old trees. Older fruit trees become increasingly difficult to transplant. The largest selection available is of one year old trees, referred to as maidens. Depending on the variety some have branches (to use the technical term are feathered maidens) while others have little or no branching (maiden whips). Maidens have had little or no formative pruning. Two or three year old trees usually have a well developed branch structure and have had some formative pruning towards a form appropriate to their respective rootstock. We also supply trees trained into specialised forms such as fans, espaliers and cordons. For details of the various tree forms please click here to go to our tree forms page. Nearly all of our trees are bare-root, which is generally considered the best way to plant fruit trees. However, some trees are container grown.
What size will the trees be when I receive them?
We are frequently asked about the size of the trees that we supply. The question arises partly because of the legitimate concern that plants supplied by mail order suppliers are often small. We only supply strong trees of average or above average size. Trees vary in size, according to variety, rootstock or the growing conditions of a particular year. But some typical sizes would be as follows: maiden apples, pears and cherries 4-6 ft (1.2-1.8 m); maiden plums 6-8 ft (1.8-2.5 m); two year trees 6-8 ft (1.8-2.5m)
If you need further help in selecting trees please call us on 01622 726465 or email us from our contact page.