Maidens: These are trees that were grafted the season before. They are the smallest size you can buy, and are the basic building block for all other fruit tree sizes and shapes. You can read more about Maiden fruit trees here.
Cordons: Applies almost exclusively to apples and pears that bear fruit on spurs. Cordon fruit trees are usually grown diagonally on wires to save space. They were grafted 2-3 years before and have been pruned, so they have a main trunk that is covered in stubby fruiting spurs. Read more about Cordon apples & pears here.
Bushes: These were grafted 2-3 years before sale. They are the shape of a 'normal' fruit tree but were pruned so the first branches are between 60-80cms from ground level when planted. A bush fruit tree will reach about 3 metres when fully grown and is the ideal size for a freestanding tree in a smaller garden. Read more about Bush fruit trees here.
Half-Standards: These were grafted 2-3 years before sale. A half standard fruit tree is a normally shaped fruit tree with a straight trunk of 100-120cms before the first branches appear. When mature, it will reach between 4 and 5 metres. Read more about Half-Standard fruit trees here.
Dwarf Patio / Wonder Trees: Designed for container growing and small gardens, these use a combination of dwarfing rootstocks and innovative grafting techniques to radically reduce the tree's vigour, so it hardly grows in size and puts almost all of its energy into fruit production instead. Browse our miniature fruit trees here: some varieties are only sold in dwarf forms (which are pot grown), and some are also available as barefoot, normal trees. A Wonder Tree is a specific style of dwarf tree, distinguished by its high graft, which has the added benefit of producing an aesthetically pleasing shape with almost no maintenance pruning required.
If you want a large, free-standing fruit tree as quickly as possible, start with a Half-standard or a Bush, depending on how much room you have.
If you want to train your trees against a wall in a fan or espalier, you must start with a maiden. We do sell selected apple & pear varieties as ready-made cordons, but you can also train these from maidens.
If you only have a small space to work with, or want to grow a fruit tree in a pot, use a dwarf patio tree.
What are Fans, Espaliers and Cordons? These are 3 ways of growing a fruit tree flat against a wall or sturdy fence to save space. Fans are suitable for most fruit trees, but only spur bearing (as opposed to tip bearing) apples and pears are really suitable for espaliers and cordons. Read more about training fans & espaliers here.
You can buy apple and pear tree rootstocks if you want to graft your own apple or pear trees.