Wednesday, November 20, 2013

In Praise of Feral Plums

In Melbourne there are many 'plum trees' that come up in gardens, along train tracks and in parks and creeks. My own garden is part of a property that has always been rented. In that way that tenants rarely get to make big changes to a backyard, nature often takes up the slack and I have eight plum trees, most of them self-sown over the 90 year life of this house. The trees are largely a kind of generic green, in foliage and plum colour although the fruit does get a flush of red as they ripen. One small tree has apricot flavoured plums while another with exactly the same habit and form and plum shape was entirely flavourless - I have since removed it. The best specimen is the classic purple leaved Prunus cerasifera with dark red fruit which is just beginning to ripen. (The late winter blossoms are beautiful too.) The fruit bats and lorikeets are already into them, not in a feeding frenzy yet, but with enough enthusiasm that as soon as the plums are ready for humans I will pick as many as I can for stewing.

We've had good winter and spring rain this year and there is a large crop but even last year with drier conditions there were more than enough plums to go round for humans and wildlife alike. So I rate these tough old trees that can survive and thrive with zero inputs. No extra irrigation, no fertilising and no pruning...perfect!

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