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I have a tall order -

Are there any fruit trees which will grow well with little work in clay soil and can handle wet winters where the temperature gets to -5c occassionally?

Ideally trees which will grow moderately large (ie 3-5 meters high), should have pretty flowers/blossoms, and its important they are not toxic to goats and sheep.

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Tree fruits like apples and pears should do fine on clay soil. Your winter temperatures are low enough to make them dormant (which is necessary for fruiting) but nowhere near cold enough to damage them.

Soft fruits (raspberries, etc) are not so tolerant of clay, though the temperatures would be no problem at all.

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  • Note: most trees for your climate will work also on clay soil. often just the root part of graft need to be clay tolerant (check carefully). About plant you cannot graft (raspberries): this is more difficult, OTOH they have short roots, so you can correct soil acidity. (and I can growth a lot of raspberries in clay soil, I find blueberries much much more difficult). Aug 7 '19 at 11:56
  • Clay soil can be excellent once it has accumulated enough organic matter. When I started my current garden about 30 years ago, the so-called topsoil was bright red (which was consistent with a local place name of Redhill), and you could make sun-dried bricks out of it just by cutting a block with a spade and leaving it to dry for a week. But now it's changed colour to black, crumbles into dust when it dries, and will grow pretty much anything.
    – alephzero
    Aug 7 '19 at 16:25

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