THE first five years are the most important; always cut off diseased branches, and try to create a goblet shape to warm the blossoms for the bees.

The secrets behind pruning a perfect pear tree were revealed this week in a one-day workshop at Wheatley's Waterperry Gardens.

Leading the class was Waterperry's longest-serving employee Chris Lanczak.

Mr Lanczak, 63, has been at the gardens his entire working life since he was 15 years old, like his father before him.

He now lives on the grounds in a tithe cottage with his wife and is the garden's orchard manager, making him something of an expert in perfect pruning.

On Wednesday he revealed some of his top trimming tips to a select group of 14 who paid to join the masterclass.

Mr Lanczak revealed some of his methods: "The first five years of a tree's life are the most important.

"That's when you build the tree and prune it to encourage growth and get a nice structure of branches.

"For older trees it's more like cutting out dead and diseased branches and opening up the middle, which allows air movement through.

"That shape also allows more light to ripen the fruit and also to warm the blossoms, because if they're not warm the bees won't go to them in the spring."

Mr Lanczak leads his pruning classes in December and January – the pear and apple pruning season.

Find out more about upcoming workshops and events at