Last Saturday was bitter cold, but for tree-lovers in Philly, it wasn’t cold enough to keep us indoors. The Philly Orchard Project held a Fruit Tree Pruning workshop at Grumblethorpe in Germantown. (Fun Fact: Grumblethorpe built as a summer residence in 1744 by Philadelphia merchant and wine importer John Wister. The Wisteria Plant is named after John Wister.)
Grumblethorpe is a historic building with a large vegetable and herb garden, a fruit orchard, a chicken coop, and a greenhouse. We started the day in a classroom learning some terminology and basic techniques. Next we ventured out into the orchard where the instructors Phil and Kevin demonstrated how to prune a few trees.
There was an unexpected participant in the class! This handsome cat hung out for most of the afternoon.
Grumblethrope has a Fruit Wall, which is a series of fruit trees planted next to a trellised wall. The trees are pruned so that only the branches in the plane parallel to the wall are allowed to grow. These branches are trained to grow along the trellis wires along the wall to create a wall of fruit in warmer months. This type of technique is called espailier.
We also learned about pruning shrubs like blueberry, blackberry, and raspberry shrubs. Each different type of plant has different pruning needs, so it was useful to get that variety in the class.
The end of the day was frigid cold, but it was a beautiful setting hidden in the city. Thanks to Phil, Kevin, Grumblethorpe, and the Philly Orchard Project for the great class. For info about future Philly Orchard Project events, check out their event page, or the Philly Permaculture calendar.