Please read this lovely memory written by Robert West about the late Mr Tedstone, a previous apple and pear supplier to Dunkertons.

John Tedstone – Grafting Repair

This memory follows on from last week about grafting but it illustrates a different use of this orchard technique. When the second week of April 2016 came I had a phone call from John Tedstone saying that it would be worth visiting his orchards in the next few days as his perry orchards were beginning to look splendid as the blossom was starting to appear.

So, on the 12th April I arrived at his farm and he met me at the farm gate. His perry orchard was a labour of love; he was intent on gathering together as many varieties of this neglected fruit together to preserve them for future generations. Consequently, the field that became his pear orchard had rows of trees that over the years were marching further away from the house and towards the village’s rugby ground – more than twenty varieties of pear.

Yes, he was right, the blossom was looking splendid and after I’d taken my photographs and made the requisite complimentary remarks about the orchard (he did like his horticultural work to be recognised!) he said “Come and look at this and tell me what you think.”

He stood me in front of a tree that on one side of had a criss-cross of growth over a wound on the trunk. I’d not seen anything like it before. He explained what I was looking at.

It was a fifteen years old Thorn pear tree that Bulmers nursery were practically giving away as it was in such a poor condition with damage on the trunk that had removed virtually half the bark in one place. As it grew the damage became more pronounced and he realised that there was the danger that a heavy crop could snap the trunk. So, four or five years ago, he grafted on wood from another pear tree (he couldn’t remember what variety) below the damaged area and, when the growth was sufficiently extended above the wound, he grafted the tips into the trunk. This acts as a natural, ever strengthening brace for the tree.

When talking about grafting he told me: “It’s in your hands, grafting gives you a chance to create, like woodworking; it’s natural, living woodworking.” I couldn’t put it any better. He is much missed.