a french garden

Reflections on nature in a garden in France

How not to plant a cherry tree


The Victorians used to tell their children cautionary tales to warn them to avoid incorrect behaviour.  I see merit in this as often when you are shown the correct procedure performed by experts it looks all too easy and can give a false sense of security.  So this post is my cautionary tale of what not to do and will make real gardeners cringe.

When planting trees it should be remembered that they have a tendency to grow and produce branches which in turn will become entangled with other trees if they are planted too close together.  Makes sense?


The move begins

The cherry tree was much too close to the large plum tree which also serves as a parasol for our table when we eat outside in the summer.


Up rooted cherry tree

A trench was dug around the condemned tree and its anchoring roots were severed with a chain saw.  All that was left was to lever it out of the hole.  Problem – even with my not negligible (?) strength we could not move it.

Take a length of rope...

Take a length of rope…

The only option was to attach the base of the tree to the back of the car and move off gently.

The car moves off

The car moves off

The car moved forward, the rope became taut – and then broke.  Ah, yet another root was cleverly hiding and  holding the root tightly in place.  The last root was cut by the chain saw.


Some more rope – and we have lift out!


Once the tree was successfully uprooted  it looked a long way to take it to its new home.  Energy levels were fast depleting (coffee time was approaching) so the car was called upon again to take up its new multi-tasking activity as part-time tractor.

Stop, you're in position!

Stop, you’re in position!

A bit of ungentle persuasion and the cherry tree was happily(?) ensconced in its new position.  We gave it a good watering and luckily it rained all the next day.

Extra support

Extra support

The cherry tree is now supported by two stout poles to stabilise it while it grows more roots.  It had a few days of respite but then it has had to deal with a sharp frost and cold spell.

It will be interesting to see if survives its manhandling but it will be springtime before there could be signs of life and next summer will be the true test and struggle for survival.

Author: afrenchgarden

Born in Scotland I have lived in England, Iran, USA and Greece. The house and land was bought twelve years ago in fulfilment of the dream of living in France that my Francophile husband nurtured. We had spent frequent holidays in France touring the more northerly parts and enjoying the food, scenery, architecture and of course gardens. However, we felt that to retire in France and enjoy a more clement climate than we currently had in Aberdeen we would need to find somewhere south of the river Loire but not too south to make returning to visit the UK onerous. The year 2000 saw us buying our house and setting it up to receive us and the family on holidays. The garden was more a field and we were helped by my son to remove the fencing that had separated the previous owners’ goats, sheep and chickens. We did inherit some lovely old trees and decided to plant more fruit trees that would survive and mature with the minimum of care until we took up permanent residence. The move took place in 2006 and the love hate relation with the “garden” started. There was so much to do in the house that there was little energy left for the hard tasks in the garden. It was very much a slow process and a steep learning curve. Expenditures have been kept to a minimum. The majority of the plants have been cuttings and I try to gather seeds wherever I can. The fruit trees have all been bought but we have tender hearts and cannot resist the little unloved shrub at a discount price and take it as a matter of honour to nurse it back to health. This year I have launched my Blog hoping to reach out to other gardeners in other countries. My aim is to make a garden for people to enjoy, providing shady and sunny spots with plants that enjoy living in this area with its limestone based subsoil and low rainfall in a warm summer. Exchanging ideas and exploring mutual problems will enrich my experience trying to form my French garden.

19 thoughts on “How not to plant a cherry tree

  1. I’m envious of all the space you have for an orchard! I would recommend skaking the tree lower (closer to the ground); the wisdom is that the roots and rot ball are held firmly but that the upper tree can move and so strengthen. Fingers crossed for you than it lives. Christina


    • Christina, whilst I agree withy you re: staking the tree lower, that really only refers to young bare-rooted trees that are less than three years old and less than five foot tall to the tip of the leader. This specimen is a size that one would regard as a “standard with rootball” as the minimum.
      Amelia has staked this tree correctly for the first two years from a transplant of this nature… this needs following up by a sling system from years two to six… three posts at equilateral points round the tree… the posts connected to each other to make a trivet shape [rather like a school laboratory bunsen burner tripod]… wide hessian straps are then looped to the uprights tightly around the tree so that the tree is firmly supported in three equal directions. Care is then needed to make sure that the straps are adjusted each year [undone and redone] to allow for tree girth expansion… after year six it is always worth just loosening the straps so that they will catch the tree in strong winds and leaving the frame in place until it rots!
      Amelia, bonne chance… that is a pretty good root bal and cherries normally grow away fast. This coming year, pick ALL flowers that you can reach…. this should force it to put out sucker roots… further strengthening your planting.


    • My original reply seems to have been lost in the ether. However, thanks for the tip, we need all the help we can get! I can see the logic in what you say as it has been severely root pruned. Amelia


  2. How many hours did that take? I bet the tree was exhausted as you!


  3. Thanks for the follow and I hope your cherry tree is OK 🙂


  4. Look great, good luck!


  5. Fingers crossed, and wishing you a fruitful 2013…


  6. Thank you and best wishes to you in 2013. As far as the fruit goes everyone was disappointed this year with their garden produce, we think because of the long, dry spring that stretched into summer. At least no-one had any gluts and there was enough for any jam and compote that we needed. Perhaps 2013 will be fruitful.


  7. Best of luck for the cherry tree. And for 2013! 🙂


  8. Thank you from me and the tree. Best wishes to you too for 2013.


  9. Oh, poor cherry tree! I was wincing all the way through this post, but enjoying it too in a strange kind of way. ;). It reminded me of the time when we had to remove an amelanchier in an even less dignified way. Could be the subject for a post, when amelanchier season is upon us.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s