When we bought our house many years ago, a couple of friends came round to visit. Although the husband conceded that it had potential, his remarks were largely disparaging, especially about my DIY ventures (well, actually he had a point there). The garden also came in for criticism, notably the néflier, which he called ‘a little runt of a tree’ that was pointless. For some reason, we’ve lost touch with these friends. But I’d like to show him a picture of the néflier now, not only luxuriant but this year, for the first time, laden with fruit. More specifically with medlars, the best fruit you’ve never heard of.
There were two secrets behind this success. Firstly, patience – it’ll bear fruit when it’s ready. And secondly, don’t be afraid to prune it. Ruthlessly cut away those unwanted or unsightly branches – it’ll only come back more strongly, what’s more in the shape you intended. And that, come to think of it, is perfect advice for a writer.