Wonderfully scented fruit blossom promises a fine harvest of succulent fruit ahead and, as you read this, I’ll be soaking up my peach’s fragrant delight. Yes, peaches can do well in much of Scotland and, believe me, nothing beats picking and enjoying them fresh.

Peaches are hardy and can handle very cold winters but this hardiness relates to low winter temperatures not moisture. And the milder, wetter winters we now have are much more challenging. After all, soggy soil is a killer for most plants.

During the winter months, my ‘Peregrine’ peach is protected by growing in a lean-to greenhouse I’ve placed against the south-facing wall of the workshop. Over winter, it keeps the tree and soil fairly dry while giving it whatever sunshine there is and preventing the blossom being frosted.

This little greenhouse is particularly important in spring as wet leaves attract the fungal disease, leaf curl. The disorder is not only disfiguring but it could kill the tree. If growing peaches, I suggest you invest in this protection, costing £200-£300. It also helps the fruit to ripen earlier and develop a finer flavour.

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And a mini greenhouse has the priceless benefit of locking in the blossom’s stupendous scent: every morning when you open the door, you’ll be met by a waft of glorious perfume. At harvest time, I relish the fragrance of the ripening fruit. And to be sure, plan to be the one harvesting the peaches, not a passing badger. If the door was left open, it would also pick up the scent and get there before me.

A tree needs some attention throughout the growing season. A fan-trained one is quite expensive, but in my book it’s worthwhile as training a maiden whip takes a few years and you need to know what you’re doing. Harvesting fruit in a restricted space is much easier when the tree is trained this way and you won’t knock off nearby peaches.

Plant in moderately fertile soil, keeping the grafting point on the stem well above the ground. As well as liquid feeding, you will need to top dress every year to retain fertility. I use wormcast, which is a fine fertiliser.

Trees are self-fertile, so you only need one, but there are very few pollinators at blossom time, so you’ll need to hand pollinate with a small paint brush. Keep the tree well watered now.

Start thinning fruit, removing any surplus at golf ball size. In a restricted space you need to be careful not to knock off more fruit than intended. Check for ripening when peaches colour up and come off with a gentle twist: don’t press the flesh as fruit bruise all too easily.

After your fruit fest, prune immediately, not in winter. Prune back to just above an emerging fruiting spur and look forward to next year’s feast.

The Herald: Narcissus ‘Topolino’Narcissus ‘Topolino’ (Image: free)

Plant of the week

Narcissus ‘Topolino’ is a small, early flowering daffodil with a clear yellow trumpet surrounded by white perianth segments. Growing just over 30 cm tall it is equally suited to the front of borders, pots or even naturalising in grass. As a bonus it is scented.