Question: I have a 40+ year old Williams pear tree approx 10ft tall.  I want to prune it down to a more managable size. Although it has borne fruit in the past it is now more ornamental than any thing else. It is just coming into bud and as in previous years this is followed by the leaves going spotty. When would be the best time to prune or should I remove it completely. Many thanks great and informative show,  Dennis Bryan

Answer: I never like to take any trees down, however old they are.  You have missed pruning for this year as it should be done during the dormant period. The pear tree has pear scab which is causing the blotches on the leaves – not a lot you can do but spray with copper fungicide or Dithane 945 if you can still buy it.  If it were me I would just keep the elderly pear tree and next year cut out any heavily crossing limbs and reduce it slightly and enjoy it for the rest of its life.

I cut back my red gooseberry bush last year in February cutting some of the middle branches to allow air into the plant. I did not get one gooseberry and wondered if you can tell me what I did wrong. Also, should I prune them this year?

ANSWER: They flower and fruit on the last year’s growth so you possibly cut out that wood by mistake. It is usually slightly lighter in colour than the very old wood. If I were you I would do absolutely nothing to the plant this year and I feel sure that you will get a good crop of gooseberry. Don’t forget to feed it in March though with a good granular fertilizer.