YES, this unimpressive little branch surrounded by rubbish is actually an almond tree.
Although the variety Robijn is supposed to be hardy in Britain, I don’t believe the breeders have ever visited Tyne and Wear.
I’m fan training it, which is why it’s been pruned so radically. It’s against a west-facing wall, which will retain heat.
To keep the worst of the frost at bay, I’ve wrapped the tub in heavy-duty bubble wrap and covered the top of the soil with small strawberry plants in pots.
They’ll survive all but the worst frosts and act as an insulated buffer zone between freezing air and the tree roots.
The branches are trained at a 45˚ angle on heavy-duty wires. Fixed to these with pegs is a length of horticultural fleece.
Naturally, this blew off in the gales last week into the thorniest plant in the garden, so it’s not looking its best, but does the job.
After all this effort, I think I would have been better off buying a mini-greenhouse to put it in – or not have fallen victim to such a “bargain” in the first place!