Renovating orchard trees with Sylvia Travers

Ref: S1D33003

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About this course

Learn how to renovate neglected and overgrown orchard trees. The main focus will be apples and pears, with some time spent looking at plums and cherries. The day will include demonstrations in West Dean Gardens orchard.

Course Description

The aim of the day is to equip you with the knowledge and confidence to tackle an orchard that requires significant renovation. You will learn how to assess an orchard – whether you are renovating to control size, improve fruiting or to simply keep veteran trees in good health. The focus will be on apples and pears, as they are the most common trees found in UK orchards.

Teaching will cover how and when to prune and potential problems with older trees, such as pests and disease, nutrition and soil health. Other aspects include understanding the physiological differences between young and old trees, and how this influences their pruning and general management.

Time will be spent outside in the afternoon where some of the principles discussed in the morning will be put into practice. Sylvia will go through the process of renovation pruning using some of the apple and pear trees in the West Dean kitchen garden, where she will visually assess a tree and discuss how to approach pruning through demonstration. Questions are welcome throughout the day.


Timetable for one day courses

Students should arrive by 9am for registration.

Classes are from 9.15 - 5pm

Lunch is included.

Course Materials

What students need to bring

  • Notebook and pencil
  • A camera may be useful
  • Clothing suitable for outdoors, including wet weather, as some time will be spent in the walled garden

Available to buy

  • Available from shop:
  • Notebooks and pencils

Additional information

Please wear appropriate clothing/aprons for the workshop or studio, this includes stout covered footwear (no sandals or open toes).


Sylvia Travers - horticulture tutor at West Dean College

Sylvia Travers

Sylvia has worked in horticulture for nearly 20 years, having studied at the Botanic Gardens in Dublin and at Reading University. She also took a detour to Denmark to complete a PhD in plant science. Sylvia has specialised in fruit and vegetable horticulture throughout and ran the productive gardens at The Lost Gardens of Heligan before setting up and running kitchen gardens for Michelin starred restaurants. She previously worked for the RHS overseeing the construction and planting of the Paradise and Kitchen gardens at Bridgewater near Manchester. These days she consults on all aspects of walled kitchen garden restoration and management. 

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