Around 15 people braved the low temperatures and the threat of frozen toes to attend Laura Potts’ pruning demonstration last Sunday. The folks who attended described the talk as ‘excellent’ and Laura as ‘very knowledgeable’. Laura, fresh from 6 hours pruning at Beningbrough Hall, gave a highly informative and interesting demonstration on pruning. She started on her own plot showing the bushes she had cut back last November and describing the shapes and goals a pruner should be trying to achieve. She then moved on to David’s plot where the majority of the demo took place and the pruning students were let loose.
Here Laura demonstrated her pearls of wisdom – pruning gooseberries into a goblet shape to try to prevent downy mildew by letting light and air in. She explained the principles of removing dead, diseased, damaged or crossing branches. She showed the crowd how blackcurrants fruit mainly on the previous year's growth and the aim when pruning them is to remove about a quarter of the old branches right down to the ground, each year, to maintain vigour and productivity. She also explained how redcurrants need different treatment as they, like gooseberries, fruit on the current season's growth, so each lateral can be cut back between a third and a quarter and weaker stems can be cut back even harder.
All those who had come armed with secateurs (well, at least those brave enough not to hide theirs in their pockets and pretend they had left them at home) were encouraged to give it a go and chopping began with abandon. (Sorry David, but if you will go away for the weekend.....).
Laura also covered the importance of a decent pair of long handled loppers and how to keep your tools sharp using a whetstone. The assembled throng then bombarbed her with lots of additional questions about all manner of other soft fruit and their needs, which she answered with ease.
One attendee, Iris Wells, afterwards commented 'I very much appreciated Laura's clear instructions. Looking at my gardening books, on returning home, it all made sense at last! It was so beneficial to have practical instruction.'
Overall, a thoroughly rewarding and educational event. Thank you Laura Potts.
(photos by Heather Dawe and Caroline Bush)