I'm still struggling with my 'yarden' design - really, it's so much easier to work with something already established - even if you have to rip everything out - than to start with a bare slate. The property doesn't have any shrubs or trees on it - other than a birch at the end of the lane way & 2 small cedars that will shortly be removed.
I'm slowly investing in shrubs - hydrangeas, rhodos, wigelia, African fuchsia, forsythia & many other cuttings that I jam into the ground in the hopes that they will take. Most are munched on by the deer, so they are stunted. I know it will take many more years for them to develop into what I can see the place will become.
This year I stumbled onto some plum trees. Quite unexpectedly, I was forced (yeah, right - twist my rubber arm) to find 2 spots to plant these trees. I had wanted crab apple trees (dwarf ones), but didn't really search too hard for them, but I do know that plums do grow out here & I've made some of the best fruit wine from plums.
The research I've done on the internet can sometimes become very confusing. One site says that it's 'self-fertile', another site says it's not really - meaning it needs another same time flowering fruit tree to aid in fertilizing the flowers for proper fruit production.
One site says the flesh is golden-peachy in colour & another site says the skin is golden-peachy in colour. I'd be happy with either - I'd just like to know before-hand.
My neighbour has one, so I'm very aware of what this tree can/should/will do. I've watched my neighbour 'prune' his tree for many years - with a skill-saw - so I know what NOT to do with this glorious fruit producer.
I'm a little (whole lot!) nervous about what the deer could possibly do to these things, especially once they start to leaf out, so I will need to come up with a creative way to protect them for the first few years.
These trees are grafted onto root stock & needed to be planted so that the graft was above the ground (or else the root stock would send up it's own sucker shoots). Since I have no idea what the root stock is - could be crab apple or something else entirely - I definitely want to make sure that I plant my trees properly.
Of course, planting on a hillside is a challenge. I'll have to amend & modify the area around the trees - possibly build better terracing so the soil & water doesn't run downhill too quickly. I also want to make sure that the tree roots aren't competing too much with other things, so I will have to mulch quite a bit more.
I have also pruned up - meaning, removed the lower branches of the trees to leave only about a 1/3rd of the branches. The peach plum is pretty short, so I will let the upper branches grow for a few years in order to see what it will do & what I need to do for pruning to keep it manageable. The Italian plum is much taller & has 2 tall leaders. I need to do some more research & come up with a proper plan as to how I want it to grow - I don't want it too tall, but I want to make sure that the cuts I make will produce branches that are strong & grow in the right direction. I think I'll let those branches grow for this year to see what happens.
I've very excited about plum trees. They are generally one of the first fruit trees to bloom out here, so I think there might be years where they are blooming before the pollinators have arrived. Then there is concern about late spring frosts or cold snaps that could cause fruit drop. All this is a process & I'm quite willing to give it a try. Maybe in a few years I can find some pear & crab apple trees to add to the mix...