Protecting the pruned branch of the fruit tree - plum - with garden paste

Wojciech Kozielczyk/Getty Images

IF YOU are a regular reader, you will know of my weird fascination with traditional horticultural practices that endure for decades despite being resoundingly debunked by science. In this article, however, I wanted to explore what might turn out to be a surprising bit of irony. Prepare to get meta…

For well over 400 years, standard horticultural advice was to paint the pruning wounds of tree branches and trunks with various concoctions, in the belief that this would prevent infection and promote healing.

However, as long ago as 1915, scientists began to ask whether contemporary preparations of white lead,…


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