In februari I went to the East Malling Research Centre. I found out that the year before they celebrated their 100 years universary with the exposition of a hanging tree.
It’s roots are beatifully untouched and hung with wires. Very long and thin roots. Although they did not keep the tree alive it was still worth a visit. I learned they tried several excavation methods, including rinsing the earth of using water. Nothing really worked though, so they did it the ‘archeological’ way. They dus a circular trench aroung the tree and then moved inwards. Using brushes and precision tools it took them ten days with 12 people. With my current knowledge I assume there a quicker ways, but quite an impressive work I would say! The people at EMR (Ross Newham received me) were very helpful and hospitable and showed me around the complex. They explained that most apple trees in the world come from their complex. It was fascinating to hear how apple trees are ‘made’. So what they do, they ‘fuse’ two different trees, grafting it’s called. A piece of branch with a root. The root is from a fast growing tree, the branch from a certain kind of apple, like Jonagold. They combine the ‘best’ properties in this way. As a novice, I was completely surprised about the trees capacity to survive this and the compatibility with other species! The grafting also explains why all commercial apple trees have a giant scar at their base, it’s their from their childhood. Rather dramatically poetic, I hope the tree is ok about it.