Ballerina®, Minarette®, and Cordon fruit trees

We are often asked about columnar fruit trees such as minarettes®, supercolumns and cordons, and ballerina® fruit trees.

Ballerina® apple trees

The key feature of Ballerina® apple trees is that they are not a trained form (like cordons or minarettes) but are a group of naturally columnar apple varieties.

There are several varieties of Ballerina apple trees but they are all descended from a common ancester – McIntosh Wijcik. Wijcik is a sport (natural mutation) of the well-known McIntosh apple variety (most commonly represented in the UK by one of its offspring, Spartan).

Ballerina trees all inherit this natural mutation, first seen in Wijcik, which causes them to grow as a single pole-like stem, with short or non-existent side branches. Ballarinas have the tightest columnar form of all the variations discussed here.

Ballerinas therefore have quite a striking ornamental effect in the garden. They are also fairly easy to maintain in the columnar shape because this is the natural way they grow.

The disadvantage is that the range of Ballerina trees is quite limited, we offer just 2-3 varieties, e.g. Flamenco. The original Wijcik variety also has a fairly lacklustre flavour, although the newer varieties have been crossed with mainstream apples and have better flavours. Even so Ballerina apple trees are perhaps best considered for their ornamental value as much as for fruit production.

Minarette® fruit trees and Supercolumn fruit trees

Minarettes® and Supercolumns are regular apple or pear varieties that have been closely-pruned in the nursery to achieve a columnar effect. Unlike Ballerina apple trees, they are not a specific variety but rather a style of pruning and training.

Minarette and Supercolumn fruit trees are also (and perhaps more correctly) known as vertical cordons.

Most (but not all) apple and pear varieties can be trained in this way, so the range of potential varieties is much wider than for Ballerinas, and includes dessert and culinary varieties. This also means that flavours and yields are potentially better than for Ballerina apple varieties.

Unlike Ballerinas, these trees require regular summer pruning to maintain their shape. If they are not regularly pruned they will eventually revert back to being normal fruit trees.

It is technically possible to train plums, cherries, nectarines, peaches or apricots as minarettes or supercolumns. However the growth and fruiting habit of these stone-fruits is not as well-suited to the regular pruning which is required to maintain the columnar form, and their natural vigour can also be an issue. Pruning is generally not advised for stone fruit because it provides an entry point for fungal infections which are a particular problem for these species. If you really want to try, then a disease-resistant plum grafted on VVA1 rootstock is probably the best option.

Minarettes and Supercolumns usually require a stake or some other support.

Cordon fruit trees

A cordon is any fruit tree which is closely pruned to concentrate fruiting along the main stem of the tree. Cordons may be planted either vertically (in which case they are sometimes known as minarettes or supercolumns) or at a slanting angle (in which case they may be known as oblique cordons).

Oblique cordons are generally more productive than minarettes or supercolumns because the slope of the stem mimics the angle of a branch on a regular fruit tree when laden with fruit. (As a general principle with fruit trees, horizontal growth is fruitful, vertical growth is vegetative). Fruit quality is often very good with cordons, particuarly if planted on a north-south axis with the top of the tree pointing north, as sunlight can easily penetrate all parts of the tree to aid the ripening process.

Whilst minarettes and supercolumns are usually grown as free-standing trees (supported by a stake), cordons are usually grown against a wall or supported by a trellis. They can be planted quite close, 80cm if necessary (or 2ft – 3ft). A collection of 4-5 oblique cordons makes an attractive and productive feature in the garden.

Like minarettes and supercolumns, cordons will revert to being normal trees if they are not regularly summer-pruned.

Regardless of the term used, cordon training is more suitable for apples and pears – plums and cherries are not usually grown in this style because they do not suit the ongoing pruning necessary to maintain the form.

Whilst most fruit tree cordons consist of a single long stem, other more exotic forms are possible, including U-cordons, triple cordons, and cordons with even more arms.

Summary of columnar fruit tree forms

  • All these columnar forms make an attractive feature in the garden, particularly if planted in groups.
  • Ballerinas® are apple varieties that naturally grow in a pole-like columnar form. They are easy to maintain, but the flavour is arguably not as good as many mainstream apple varieties.
  • Minarettes® and Supercolumns are a form of cordon, grown vertically. Most apple or pear varieties can be grown in this fashion, but they require more maintenance than the other columnar forms. Plums and cherries can be grown this way too but the risk of disease entry from pruning cuts makes them less suitable.
  • Cordons are apple or pear trees trained in a columnar fashion. For best productivity and easier maintenance, they are usually planted at an oblique angle.

We have a range of fruit trees available as cordons, suitable for both vertical or oblique planting.

Dwarf Fruit Trees

Dwarf Fruit Tree varieties includes all types of dwarf fruit trees from our fruit tree catalogue….dwarf apricots are NEW, dwarf plum trees also NEW, dwarf quinces, dwarf cherries, dwarf apple trees, dwarf medlar trees, dwarf nectarine trees, and more

Showing 1–21 of 71 results


  • Dwarf Cherry – Black Cherree

    Dwarf cherry – Black Cherree will grow to approximately 2 metres in height at maturity, and yields good crops of light coloured, excellent flavoured cherries. Can be grown in a pot or in the ground, great space saver, excellent for small backyards, or for easy netting, picking pruning etc. Fruits much quicker than standard cherry varieties, self pollinating $52.00 inc. GST


  • Dwarf pear Red D’Anjou

    Dwarf pear Red D’Anjou, grafted to a two metre high rootstock, remains compact in size, is a red skinned pear, very popular now, great flavour, late ripener, crisp and sweet $36.00 inc. GST


  • Dwarf Flemish Beauty pear

    Dwarf Flemish Beauty pear was originally known as Fondante de Boise or Sweetmeat of the Woods, this pear came out of Belgium in the early 1800s. The large, rounded fruits have creamy-yellow skin blushed red along with firm, creamy-white flesh that becomes meltingly tender, sweet and aromatic. One of the hardier pears, withstands the cold well, high degree of self fertility, fruit ripens March, we offer this grafted onto quince rootstock to produce a semi dwarf tree of 2.5 metres in height $38.00 inc. GST


  • Dwarf Cherry – White Cherree

    Dwarf cherry – White Cherree will grow to approximately 2 metres in height at maturity, and yields good crops of light coloured, excellent flavoured cherries. Can be grown in a pot or in the ground, great space saver, excellent for small backyards, or for easy netting, picking pruning etc. fruits a number of years earlier than standard cherry varieties, self pollinating $48.00 inc. GST


  • Powells Prize Quince

    Out of stock

    Powells Prize quince are a smaller fruit, with a pear-shape, they turn a lovely pink colour when cooked, harvest early, hardy tree, easy to grow


  • Van Deman Quince

    Van Deman quince $32.00 inc. GST


  • Dwarf Divinity Apricot

    Dwarf Divinity Apricot is a 2 -2.5 metre tree – a genuinely small to mid sized tree, that bears good crops of standard sized Divinity apricots. Great for small backyards and limited spaces, Dwarf Divinity apricot produces fruit with a good sweet flavour, excellent drying or fresh eating, probably one of the best early season apricots in most areas, ripens late season when the tree is young but becomes an early ripener with maturity, heavy bearer, medium sized fruit Ripens: Nov/Dec Pollinate with: Self fertile $46.00 inc. GST


  • Dwarf Tilton Apricot

    Dwarf Tilton apricot is a 2 – 2.5 metre high apricot tree, a genuine semi dwarf apricot which produces a good crop of standard sized Tilton fruits. Great for smaller areas and limited backyards, Dwarf Tilton is a hardy tree, recommended for cooler areas, probably one of the better chances of getting decent apricots in the difficult colder areas where stone fruit will sometimes struggle. Smaller fruit with very sweet flavour and nice colour, self fertile $46.00 inc. GST

  • Dwarf Black Mulberry

    Dwarf Black Mulberry is a genuinely dwarfed version of the standard black mulberry tree, perfect for small spaces and little backyards, the dwarf black mulberry tree will grow to approx 2 metres in height, and remain at a manageable small size, giving ease of picking, pruning and netting, the tree bears normal sized berries $46.00 inc. GST

  • Dwarf Josephine pear

    Dwarf Josephine pear is offered for the first time this year, grafted onto quince rootstocks to make a genuinely dwarfed small backyard tree, which will grow to approx 2.5 metres at full maturity, dwarf Josephine will have a good crop load of full sized pears, Dwarf Josephine is an early winter pear with excellent fruit quality, rounded fruits, smooth skin, greenish yellow, with a faint blush. Yellowish white flesh is firm but tender, outstanding aroma, juicy, sweet, and rich in flavour. An old French Pear Ripens: April/May. Pollinates with: Lemon Bergamot, Packham’s Triumph, Beurre Hardy $36.00 inc. GST

  • Dwarf Douyenne Du Comice pear

    Semi dwarf Douyenne Du Comice pear is offered for the first time this year, as a tree that will grow to approx 2.5 metres at full maturity, semi dwarf Douyenne Du Comice pear will have good crops of full sized pears, Douyenne Du Comice is has lemon yellow skin with greenish tinge covered with speckles and patches of brown russet, flesh yellow white, very tender, buttery, melting, with an almost cinnamon flavour coming through. Douyenne Du Comice pear has been judged by many to be one of the best for taste and texture, tree tends to be very healthy, appreciates a warm protected position, a good bearer, and has beautiful shape and form Ripens: April Pollinates with: Williams, Beurre Bosc, Winter Nelis, Winter Cole $36.00 inc. GST

  • Dwarf Monty’s Surprise apple

    A Monty’s Surprise apple a day really does help keep the doctor away! This SPECIAL apple has been selected from scientific research reports that prove that it has some of the highest flavonoids and antioxidant levels both in the skin and flesh of any variety of apple found in the world (many times higher) .High micro nutrient levels exist in this special apple variety also. It has been reported by health organisations around the world that high levels of these naturally occurring compounds are beneficial to the human body in assisting the immune system to help fight obesity, sickness and disease. Monty’s Surprise apples have extra large fruit size, they were found using natural plant selection methods, and they are a crisp, good eating apple and an excellent cooking apple $32.00 inc. GST

  • Dwarf Frequin Rouge Amer French cider apple

    Dwarf Frequin Rouge Amer French cider apple $28.00 inc. GST

  • Dwarf Mariposa plum

    Dwarf Mariposa plum is a brand new addition to our list this year – one of the most popular old blood plums in our list, and now grafted onto semi dwarfing rootstock, yields a dwarf plum tree of around two metres, and carries a genuine fruit load. Ripens: January Pollinates with: Santa Rosa, Satsuma, Dwarf Santa Rosa Chill hours: approx 250 hours (low) $46.00 inc. GST

  • Dwarf Satsuma plum

    Dwarf Satsuma plum is the dwarf form (two metres high) of maybe the most well known of all blood plums, mid season ripening in February, one of the most reliable plums in our list – crops year in year out, largest in size, rounded dark red, firm juicy flesh, described by one local nurseryman here as having a ‘satisfying clove like depth’ of flavour. Dwarf Satsuma plum is a good bearer, useful for preserving and bottling, quite self fertile on its own, only needs 300-400 winter chill hours. Ripens: February Pollinates with: Self fertile, Dwarf Mariposa, Santa Rosa Chill Hours: 300-400 $46.00 inc. GST

  • Dwarf Santa Rosa plum

    Dwarf Santa Rosa plum is a dwarf form (two metre high) of the popular early plum, yellow flesh, purple red skin, cherry plum flavours, upright tree, self fertile, and one of the best pollinators for other varieties, a long time favourite, and now in a very manageably sized tree. Dwarf Plum Santa Rosa is perfect for fitting into backyard sized spaces, while still giving really good heavy yields of full sized plums. Ripens: Dec/Jan Pollinates with: Self fertile, Mariposa, Santa Rosa, Narrabeen Chill hours: approx 300 hours (low) $46.00 inc. GST

  • Dwarf Packham’s Triumph pear

    Packham’s Triumph pear is one of the most well known pears in Australia – crisp white flesh, green skin, crunchy, good bearer, reliable cropper, mid season ripener, very reliable cropper, this one offered on semi dwarf rootstock to yield a manageable tree of approx. 2 – 2.5 metres. Ripens: March Pollinates with: Josephine, Lemon Bergamot, Beurre Hardy, Clapp’s, Douyenne Boussuch, Ducchess D’Angloueme, Flemish Beauty $36.00 inc. GST

  • Dwarf Trevatt apricot

    Dwarf Trevatt apricot is a brand new 2 metre tall version of the popular Trevatt. Widely planted in both gardens and orchards in the last few decades, large round fruit, flavour very good if left on the tree long enough (which it usually isn’t when coming out of commercial orchards – which is why it is so important to grow your own!) Dwarf Apricot Trevatt has light yellow skin with strong coloured orange flesh, good for canning, drying and eating fresh. Ripens: Mid January Pollinate with: Self fertile $46.00 inc. GST

  • Dwarf Court of Wick apple

    Court of Wick apple came out of Somerset, in 1790, red and gold with russetting, very fruity flavour with plenty of sweetness and acidity, very good fresh eater but also used to make a sweet cider, this is grafted onto m26 rootstock, which yields approximately 2 metre high trees $28.00 inc. GST

  • Dwarf Sweet Coppin cider apple

    Dwarf Sweet Coppin cider apple is an English cider apple originating in Devon, makes a very good sweet cider, ripens midseason. Ripens: March Pollinate with: Self fertile Type: Sweet $28.00 inc. GST

  • Spectabilis crab apple Stepover

    Spectabilis crab apple Stepover is grafted to miniature apple rootstock, a species of crab apple known by the common names Asiatic apple, Chinese crab, and Chinese flowering apple, it has a wonderfully colourful display of semi double-pink flowers, doubly ornamental when used to border gardens and walkways, as a low growing horizontally bent edging tree Pollinate with: Golden Hornet (crab), Jack Humm (crab), Jonathan, Lady Williams, Pink Lady, Fuji, Gala, Freyburg, Granny Smith $36.00 inc. GST

Summer Pruning Fruit Trees

Summer pruning is one of the most enjoyable tasks in the fruit garden but why should we prune at all? What is the purpose of summer pruning and why should we prune now rather than leave it all until the winter?

By pruning in summer we encourage the tree to make better growth, rather than more growth, as is sometimes the case with winter pruning. Summer pruning makes our trees produce more fruit and less wood.

It is with the trained fruit trees that summer pruning is the most important and advantageous. Easpaliers, fans, stepovers, cordons and columns, but don’t forget your trained soft fruit as well which will thrive under the same principal.

The younger a tree is the more important it is to summer prune. It is crucial if we intend to promote our trees to grow into a special shape or produce heavy crops in a special way. With a mature tree you mainly prune to maintain the work of previous years.

The young bush trees on dwarfing rootstocks also require our attention, once the basic framework of branches has been formed. We now want to encourage our trees to produce an abundance of fruit buds.

Summer pruning has the advantage of reducing shade. The more sun we can get to our fruits then the better they will be, more flavoursome and more highly coloured. Have you ever noticed that with a large old tree, the most colourful and pleasurably flavoured fruits invariably come from the top of the tree, where they have been sunbathing? It’s another reason why most commercial samples of Bramleys Seedling sold in supermarkets are almost all-green because commercial orchards are intensively farmed and planted and allow for little sunlight to reach the fruits. A Bramleys real character is actually quite highly coloured but you would not guess it from shop bought samples these days. Down in the heavy shade of the lower branches fruits are often smaller and paler in colour, lack flavour & there are fewer of them.

If you belong to a gardening club you will already know that there are two extremes of pruners in the garden. Those that attack everything in sight as if on a mission and give their trees a short back and sides at every opportunity, and there are those timid pruners who will only nibble at an occasional branch because they are frightened of making an incorrect cut. Both methods are equally wrong.

The rewards of efficient pruning in summer are beyond belief if you have never experienced them. Healthier and better looking trees come naturally and the quality and quantity of fruit is beyond compare.

In order to summer prune effectively you need to know why, when you cut a branch, it has the effect it does.

With summer pruning we are concentrating on these new side growths that are coming from the main branches or stem. They will now be about 7-9″ long on many of our trees and at the perfect stage for pruning. But what happens when we prune them? In simple terms a leaf manufactures food for our trees. With less food to support any new growth a tree compensates for itself when leaves are removed and puts less growth into the root system. This in turn reduces the amount of food that can be stored and effectively released the following spring, and as a consequence is curbing the trees growth.

If we are trying to train and grow a tree in a confined space as with cordons, Espaliers and columns etc, summer pruning is an essential aid. It helps our tree to help us in a natural way. The other purpose of summer pruning is to produce more and better fruits.

By pruning back the new side growths at this time, we encourage the development of more buds that are at the base or hidden in the bark around the base of the side laterals. Pruning forces these dormant buds into growth. Sometimes further side growths are produced but often it is fruit buds in a prolific way. As you become more experienced you will be able to tell the difference between fruit buds and leaf buds.

In the early autumn examine the side growths that you have shortened and you will be surprised at how well furnished with fruit buds they are.

The extra benefit we get from summer pruning is that, as our trees get older, more fruit buds are naturally produced and less side growths, so very important with our single stem columnar trees and the sturdy arms of our espaliers and stepovers.

Always remember that the growth that needs your attention is the semi-mature new side growths. Wait until they are about 7-8″ long and then prune them back by at least half, cutting to just beyond a bud. The more experienced will prune these growths back very hard, almost down to the base as the harder you prune, the more of those dormant fruit buds will be forced into growth.

Summer pruning usually starts in June, check your trees every 3 weeks until growth has finished in the early autumn. Prune all of the side growths but not the leader.

Summer pruning is simplicity itself, but so very effective.

Supercolumns

The Modern Intensive Growing System for Apples, Pears, Plums and Gages – column apple trees

Slender, compact columns that grow on average to only 7 tall and bearing heavy crops along the full length of the stem. Wonderful to see in blossom and perfect for the small garden or large intensive orchard. Plant just 2′ apart.

Supercolumns can be grown in the garden border, planted to create a walk through, in rows in a mini orchard, as a hedge or in tubs on a patio. Supercolumns are very easy to manage and picking is easy, the fruits ripen to perfection and with the benefit of more sunshine the fruits have an excellent flavour. Crops can be very heavy with an apple capable of producing 30 or more full sized fruits for years. The secret is in maintaining the columnar growth that is so easy with the chosen rootstock.

Apples are on the Super Dwarfing M27, pears on QC, plums on Pixy, cherries on gisele. All main varieties are now available.

Since we introduced this type of tree customers have achieved some excellent results, the following results we quote from:

Dear Sir
Last autumn we purchased 10 Supercolumn trees, 6 apple and 4 plums. They were sent to me and were planted out and they are all growing perfectly. I am very impressed with the growth, vigour and health of the plants.
A customer from Watford, Herts.

Insist on a Chris Bowers Supercolumn – the modern intensive growing system. Chris Bowers Supercolumns offer you almost certainly the largest range of Columnar Fruit Trees in the UK. Why not increase the range of varieties you can grow by incorporating Supercolumns into your garden?

cordon

From Longman Dictionary of Contemporary Englishcordoncor‧don1 /ˈkɔːdn $ ˈkɔːrdn/ noun PREVENTa line of police officers, soldiers, or vehicles that is put around an area to stop people going therecordon of A cordon of police surrounded the building.cordon around the security cordon around the capitalExamples from the Corpuscordon• There they were met by a cordon of police, standing in front of a barrier of police tenders.• Looking back, the precipitous shreds of sheeting rain effectively sanctioned a cordon between himself and what had gone before.• But on Dec. 25, Milosevic banned street demonstrations and deployed cordons of heavily armed riot police to block the parades.• F1 Prisca Yields four fruits to the pound; forms five trusses, then stops; ideal for small greenhouses, cordon.• Rock-throwing protesters broke through the police cordon.• The police reacted swiftly and a man who broke through their cordon was brought down by a rugby tackle and arrested.cordoncordon2 verb → cordon something ↔ off→ See Verb tableExamples from the Corpuscordon• Most of the building is closed off, under repair, with ropes cordoning off huge sections.• The authorities were taken aback, and took the unprecedented step of cordoning off the painting.• You had to chase him off from where you were cordoning off the slip.Origin cordon1 (1700-1800) cordon “strip of cloth or decorative cord” ((16-21 centuries)), from French, from corde; → CORD

See also: Cordon and cordón

English

Etymology

From Middle English cordon, from Middle French cordon, diminutive of corde. More at cord.

Pronunciation

  • IPA(key): /kɔː(ɹ)dən/
  • Audio (AU) (file)
  • Rhymes: -ɔː(r)dən

Noun

cordon (plural cordons)

  1. (archaic) A ribbon normally worn diagonally across the chest as a decoration or insignia of rank etc.
  2. A line of people or things placed around an area to enclose or protect it.
  3. (cricket) The arc of fielders on the off side, behind the batsman – the slips and gully.
  4. (botany) A woody plant, such as a fruit tree, pruned and trained to grow as a single stem on a support.

Translations

ribbon line of people or things placed around an area

Verb

cordon (third-person singular simple present cordons, present participle cordoning, simple past and past participle cordoned)

  1. Only used in cordon off

cordon off — see cordon off

Anagrams

  • condor, conrod

French

corde +‎ -on

  • IPA(key): /kɔʁ.dɔ̃/
  • Audio (file)
  • Rhymes: -ɔ̃

cordon m (plural cordons)

  1. cord (for connecting)

Derived terms

Derived terms

Descendants

  • → German: Kordon
  • → Portuguese: cordão
  • → Romanian: cordon
  • → Spanish: cordón

Further reading

  • “cordon” in le Trésor de la langue française informatisé (The Digitized Treasury of the French Language).

Romanian

Borrowed from French cordon.

cordon n (plural cordoane)

  1. belt
  2. cord (length of twisted strands)
  3. cordon (line of people or things placed around an area to enclose or protect it)

Declension

Declension of cordon

singular plural
indefinite articulation definite articulation indefinite articulation definite articulation
nominative/accusative (un) cordon cordonul (niște) cordoane cordoanele
genitive/dative (unui) cordon cordonului (unor) cordoane cordoanelor
vocative cordonule cordoanelor
  • cordon ombilical

See also

  • centură, curea

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