GARDENING: The great joys of a German cherry

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AMONG my mystery bumper bundle of cheap fruit trees was the cherry Regina.

It got plonked in a tub and pretty much forgotten about.

Now I have more time, and have lavished much more attention on the accompanying almond and plum, I feel bad.

Regina, according to some sources, is self-fertile, others say it needs a pollinator.

As I don’t have room for one, it had better be the first. Like the almond, she’s growing in a large tub and is a bit lop-sided. I’m glad to know Regina’s very hardy, a sweet black German cherry, grown commercially, even in Norway, and has pink spring blossom, so it should do fine in the north-east.

From July to August, the tree produces firm, dark red fruits with excellent flavour.

It’s had a good mulch of compost – with a gap to keep it away from the trunk, plus a top dressing of Growmore.

Like all members of the cherry family, don’t winter prune to avoid silver leaf disease.

In the first spring after planting, choose three or four well-spaced branches on a clear trunk of at least 75cm (29”), and shorten them by two-thirds.

Remove the central stem to just above the highest of the selected branches.

Remove any laterals below the selected branches.

The following spring, select three or four sub-laterals on each branch and shorten these by half to create an open framework.

In future years, cherries will require only occasional pruning to remove damaged, badly placed or diseased wood in the summer.