May 2018

The orchard has blossomed under the May sunshine. At the beginning of the month, the trees were covered in pink and white flowers, the cordons and espaliers were particularly beautiful.

The grass is now growing with a vengence and needs regular cutting.  Weeding in the soft fruit beds continues and we are now picking rhubarb and waiting for the strawberries to ripen! Good progress has continued on the seating area and the stone wall is steadily growing.

 

30th May 2018 Visit from County Durham Community Fund

Much of the development in the orchard has been funded by grants awarded by the County Durham Community Fund.

On Wednesday 30th May we were pleased to be visited by Naomi Stevens, one of the fund’s Donor Services Managers.  Naomi wanted to visit our orchard to see how much progress we have made and how we are implimenting the grants. She also wanted to report back to the donors who kindly donate to and support the Community Fund.

Representatives of the Orchard Steering Committee were there to met her and to show her around the orchard. It was a pleasure to have Mike Gladstone to represent Lanchester Partnership as the orchard is one of the partnership’s working groups.

Naomi was able to see the huge variety of fruit tress and soft fruits we are growing in the orchard. She was particularly interested to see the seating area, our current project which is funded by a grant from the Commnunity Fund.

Two photography students accompanied Naomi and they enjoyed taking lots of photos of the trees and plants. The visit ended with a cup of tea and chance to sample some of the produce from the orchard including nuts, soft fruit and apple juice.

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Steve and Mike showing Naomi Stevens our new seating area.

Brownies Lend a Hand!

On a warm May evening Lanchester Brownies and leaders planted out over 180 wild flower plugs at Lanchester Community Orchard. Everyone worked really hard to plant and water in the flowers in the grass beneath the blossoming trees. Over the next few years we hope that these plants will increase the biodiversity in the orchard providing not only nectar for insects and seeds for birds but also a wonderful vista for those enjoying a stroll around the orchard.Image1

A big thank you to all the Brownies and their leaders for their help in improving our shared environment.

April 2018

April has brought all different kinds of weather and this has had an effect on the orchard and the work we have been able to carry out. Many of the jobs have been delayed, however the cold start to Spring has meant that the weeding and grass cutting didn’t start until the end of the month.

The beginning of the month still saw the orchard water logged, however, the rhubarb didn’t seem to mind the cool, wet weather.

As the weather slowly warmed up and the sun began to shine, the fruit trees began to wake up and by the end of April the blossom started to appear. The plum trees were the first to show their flowers followed by the apple trees and the nut trees. We also wanted to add to the diversity of wild flowers abd the marsh marigolds flowered for the first time in April.

The members of the orchard also made great progress on the new seating area. There is much more information about this on our Project page.

Celebrating Earth Hour 2018

Earth hour is a worldwide grass roots movement organised by the WWF to unite people to take action for our planet and shine a light on climate change. Every year ordinary people, organisations, businesses, cities and iconic land marks across the world turn off their lights for one hour.

Members of the Lanchester Community  Orchard and Margery Flatts Allotments were invited to turn off all their lights and bring their soup and hot drinks along to the orchard to celebrate Earth Hour 2018.

We all met, along with family and friends, on a lovely, chilly clear March evening at 8.00 with candle lights around the central area and avenues and a brazier helping to ward off the chilly air. Hoping for a clear sky, we suggested that people could bring binoculars along to do some stargazing and we weren’t disappointed. Simon Johnson, an orchard member was on hand to guide us around the night skies.

This was the second time we have celebrated Earth Hour in the Orchard and once again, we were lucky to have a calm, clear evening with a wonderful view of the sky and even saw three shooting stars. We shared tasty home made soup, fantastic home baking and good company.

Willow Weaving and Hurdle Making in the Orchard

What a brilliant day members of the Lanchester Orchard and Allotment groups had on Saturday 24th March. They spent the day led by Joe and Matt from Abundant Earth, Brancepeth, weaving willow structures and hazel hurdles.

Half of the group made 2m high willow pyramids that would grace any garden or allotment and provide the perfect climbing frame for sweetpeas or beans alike. They then wove a living willow structure round the bench at the end of the nut walk in the orchard. This we hope will take root and provide dappled light for those resting a while beneath its branches.

The other group spend the day with Matt learning the ancient traditional craft of hurdle weaving. They learnt how to set the upright poles, called zales, split hazel poles and weave them around the upright posts. When finished, the hurdles were solid and sturdy and ideal for screening and wind breaks on the allotment plots.

Not only did the members enjoy their creative tasks but also the wonderful warm spring weather, the views over Lanchester and the surrounding countryside and the lively banter from their companions.

A great day of fresh air, friendship and creativity!

 

Signs of Spring?

20180311_125759 After a very snowy start to Spring, the Orchard is just beginning to show signs of life emerging from the winter snow. A walk around the orchard showed that the moles were still very active.

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We also came across these intriguing channels in the ground which led to some small holes in the mud. If you have any idea which animal made them we would be very interested to hear from you.

The snowdrops have survived the cold but you can see from the photos that the ground is very waterlogged and this has hindered any workday plans we have. Pruning and digging will have to wait until the ground is firmer.20180311_125733 Hopefully the weather will continue to improve and we will soon be posting about the apple blossom.