Cherry guild (sour Kentish)

 Introduction

This guild was developed for a Kentish sour cherry tree. The bare rooted tree was planted in 2016 with compost, tree starter and mycorrhiza. The soil in the immediate vicinity is relatively clay. Soil testing of the broader site showed it to slightly acidic, with an excess of magnesium and a deficit of calcium, phosphorus and nitrogen. This guild has been designed based on interim drip line and has been planted in berm 3 of the Lyneham Commons in Canberra, Australia.

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Cherry guild

Species list

Common name Variety Botanical name
Fennel Bronze fennel Foeniculum vulgare ‘Purpurascens’
Dill Bouquet Anethum graveolens
Cornflowers Dwarf blue Centaurea cyanus
Horseradish Armoracia rusticana
Miners lettuce Claytonia perfoliata
Comfrey Russian Symphytum x uplandicum
Chamomile English chamomile Chamaemelum nobile
German chamomile Chamomilla recutita
Yarrow Achillea millefolium
Johnny jump ups Viola tricolor
Lucerne Medicago sativa

Diseases and pests

This guild has been designed to aid in the management of two key pests and diseases affecting cherry trees: pear and cherry slug, and brown rot.

Fennel has been planted to aid the long term control of pear and cherry slugs. Fennel is a perennial herb that likes full sun and fertile soil, generally flowers from summer to autumn and said to repel aphids, snails and slugs. Fennel flowers are particularly attractive to lacewings and hoverflies that prey on the slugs. Dill has been planted for the same reasons, and to act as a barrier plant to the fennel, which can discourage the growth of other plants.

Cornflowers have also been planted as a nectary for a range of beneficial insects. Cornflowers are edible and make an attractive addition to salads and drinks. They can also be included in teas.

Horseradish has been planted to deter brown rot. It is also a general pest deterrent and its deep roots deter weeds. Young horseradish leaves can be added to a salad for a peppery kick. The roots can be harvested for their pungent flavour.

Miners lettuce has also been planted to develop a weed suppressing ground cover, in conjunction with Johnny jump ups. Miners lettuce is an attractive, shade loving succulent that was eaten by miners In California to stave off scurvy. It grows well in cooler months.

Micronutrients

Cherries are prone to three key nutrient deficiencies: potassium, phosphorus and magnesium.

Comfrey has been planted because it can accumulate potassium, phosphorus and magnesium. Comfrey is a perennial herb with large hairy leaves. It grows in full sun to part shade. It is a highly medicinal plant, primarily used as a poultice to reduce aches and pains, heal bruises wounds. Historically comfrey was also taken internally, however the sterile, Russian comfrey planted here is higher in the alkaloid pyrrolizidine than standard comfrey. Pyrrolizidine can have a cumulative effect on the liver, so it is not suggested that our comfrey is ingested. Comfrey will also provide nitrogen and organic matter.

Chamomile is a dynamic accumulator of both potassium and phosphorus. The fragrance of chamomile is a natural pest deterrent and its flowers attract beneficial insects. It will also assist in the management of brown rot. Two types of chamomile have been planted, one perennial English chamomile, and the annual German chamomile that makes a superior tea. Both plants like full sun and will grow 50cm high. Chamomile flowers are used to make a calming tea and aid with sleep.

Yarrow has been planted to accumulate potassium and phosphorous. Yarrow is a perennial medicinal herb, the flowers of which are used in relieving swelling and hormonal cramps, among many other things.

Johnny jump ups have been planted because they accumulate phosphorous. They are an annual, self-seeding ground cover that grows in part shade. The flowers are edible and make a fine addition to salad, or can be crystalised as a cake decoration.

Flowering

Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Cherry X X
Fennell X X X
Dill X X X
Cornflowers X X X
Horseradish X X
Comfrey X X
Chamomile English X X X
Chamomile German X X X
Yarrow X X X
Lucerne X X X
Johnny jump ups X X X X X X X X

Succession planning

The Lucerne will need to be replaced after a few years. Fennel is quite prolific in the ACT and will be cut back each autumn after harvesting the seed for culinary and medicinal purposes. Chamomile is an annual that will need to be resowed each spring, as will the dill. Seed may be saved from these each year. Soil testing will be repeated in coming years to identify any ongoing deficiencies or new soil issues that may need to be remedied.