Last week was National Tree Week and we did our bit at Spring Cottage. We (and that’s the royal we) planted our new plum, a variety called ‘Heron’. I have made jam from this and it was the colour of blood-red rubies, so it came out above ‘Opal’ and ‘Oullin’s Gage’, although I secretly still covet both. ‘Heron’, an old variety introduced by Thomas Rivers of Sawbridgeworth in 1881, is one of his bird series. It’s tall, upright and vigorous (rather like the Best Beloved) and listed as a good cropper, with purple-red fruit that cooks well. It isn’t self-fertile, but there are plums nearby, so here’s hoping we shall succeed.‘Heron’ crops in mid-August, after ‘Czar’, and in two or three years’ time we should get a crop.

We collected our plum from a Soil Association-approved fruit specialist near Pershore, Walcot Organic Nursery ( 841587) and cradled it like a new baby. It had just been dug from the field and our well-grown tall ‘Heron’, grafted on St Julien A, cost £16.95 and will hopefully repay us with pounds of plums in years to come. This small nursery sells a full range of fruit, but don’t just turn up at the door. Order from the catalogue or website as all trees are freshly lifted. They can be mailed out or collected in person.

Buying an organically-produced tree makes great sense, whether you are organic or not, as all the varieties have to be healthy and disease resistant when no chemical props are used.

The trees are maidens and at some stage in the next year I will have to shape it so that it branches out. This needs doing in the third week of July with a new plum tree. Others plums are tackled between late spring and early summer once the sap is flowing. The flow seals the cuts, preventing fungal diseases like silver leaf from entering the wood. So although apples and pears are pruned in winter, whilst dormant, plums are done in leaf along with cherries, peaches and apricots. Light pruning is the order of the day for stone fruit. Planting bare-root between November and late-February has several advantages. The young trees romp away in spring with all the enthusiasm of a two-year-old. They have never been stressed in a container or crammed into a nursery cheek by jowl, which misshapes trees so badly they appear to fold their arms.

Bare-root trees are field grown in good light and are much sturdier. Buy the stake and tie and use both when planting, checking regularly that the tie isn’t chafing the wood. Non-productive trees can still be acquired bare-root and I recommend The Ornamental Tree Nursery in Herefordshire (01568 708016/, who also sell container-grown trees. If you’re wondering what to plant the oriental hawthorn, Crataegus orientalis, is spectacular with silvers and the small haws are the colour of Cox’s Orange Pippin apples. The ultimate tree for bright-red fruit is the healthy crab apple, Malus x robusta ‘Red Sentinel’.

However when winter light shines nothing is better than a pale-stemmed birch. Betula ermanii ‘Grayswood Hill’ has large serrated leaves and a pearl-pink trunk. The ultimate is a multi-stemmed one. Try Stone Lane Gardens — 01647 231311.