General news and announcements

apple for the teacher?
Another Level 2 exam question commentary
by Janet Prescott - Wednesday, 1 July 2020, 7:25 PM

This one from R2112 June 2019


a)       a) List THREE ameliorants which can be incorporated into the soil at the time of planting a bare rooted tree.                        3 marks

b)     b) Describe ONE method of staking a newly planted root balled tree.                            3 marks

c)      c) Name FOUR trees suitable for a domestic garden.                                           4 marks

This question relates to the following part of the syllabus:

Outcome 3. Understand the choice of woody plants for display and their establishment and maintenance.

 3.1 Name TEN trees suitable for growing in a domestic garden. Tree no more than 10 metres. Examples could include:

 Malus x zumi ‘Golden Hornet’,

 Prunus x subhirtella ‘Autumnalis’

Acer griseum

Amelanchier x grandiflora ‘Ballerina’

Cercis canadensis ‘Forest Pansy’

3.8 Describe the soil preparation and planting for trees and woody shrubs. To include timing, site preparation (cultivation, addition of ameliorants, mycorrhiza and/or fertiliser), specification (bare root, root-ball, container-grown); planting techniques (tools, depth and spacing, staking, protection); formative pruning, mulching and watering.


The examiners’ comments suggest the following ameliorants for incorporating into the soil:

·        Well-rotted farm yard manure, garden compost or leaf mould

·        Grit to improve drainage

·        Mycorrhizal fungi

·        Fertiliser e.g  Growmore for use as a base dressing

Organic matter may be beneficial if the structure of the soil needs improving for a heavy clay or a light sandy soil, for example. Grit may be beneficial if the soil is heavy and badly drained, such as a poor structured clay soil. Mycorrhizal fungi are really beneficial in aiding the establishment of bare root trees. You need to make sure this is applied in direct contact with the roots.

For part b) there are different options for staking root balled tree. Only one is needed, so make sure you select a suitable one that you can describe well. Annotated diagrams were accepted for this. The examiners’ comments suggest the following methods:

The use of a single short stake inserted at an angle of 45o to avoid damage to the rootball, facing into the prevailing wind and tied with a buckle tie and spacer.

Alternatively double or triple stakes can be used with tree bands or double stakes with a cross bar and a tree tie and spacer.

It is important to read each part of the question carefully, as the first part is about bare root trees and the second is root-balled trees. The staking for these can be quite different.

For part c), make sure you give typical and appropriate examples. The point on the domestic garden is suggesting that the tree should not be too large, and suitable examples are given in the syllabus. Some are much easier to remember and spell than others! It is useful to have your own selection of plants that you know well and find easy to remember. As well as the ten trees for a domestic garden, you also need five for autumn and five for winter interest, so some of these overlap.