The warm weather we have been enjoying recently has encouraged our fruit trees to blossom. The scent of apple blossom fills the summer evenings. One of our members recently took a stroll around the orchard to photograph the trees in bloom.
Photos courtesy of Zam Tea
The Orchard has survived another winter safely and the trees in March began to show welcome signs of Spring and possible warm days to come! The catkins on the nut trees began to show and rhubarb is always one of the earlist fruits to appear in the Orchard.
The orchard is a haven for wildlife and we often come across visitors during our work sessions.
Despite the damp, rainy October we have been experiencing, we were lucky to have a sunny morning for our annual apple picking and juicing day. Despite the poor crop of apples we were able to pick enough to share with the orchard members and produce some bottles of juice.
Although the apple crop may have been disappointing this year we have had a bumper crop of hazel and cob nuts.
We have several ‘historic’ fruit trees thriving in the Orchard.
We are all familiar with the children’s nursery rhyme ‘Here we go round the mulberry bush.’ However, the mulberry bush is actually a tree and once grew in gardens around the country. They were brought to the UK in the seventeenth centuary to provide food for silkworms in the hope that the country could establish a silk industry.
The mulberry fruit grows straight from the branches and turns a dark purple when ripe. They have a sweet, fresh flavour and are very juicy.
This is the first crop of mulberries the orchard has produced.
Quine have been mentioned throughout history and were first recorded in England in 1275, when King Edward I planted four at the Tower of London.We’re probably more familiar with quince from Edward Lears famous poem ‘The Owl and the Pussy Cat’ when they ‘dined on mince and slices of quince’. Quince can be made into a sweet, rosey yellow jelly or jam or baked or roasted to make into puddings.
The medlar tree is another ancient fruit tree mentioned in historical documents from Roman times. Medlars are an unusual fruit because once they have been picked they have to be left to sofen and ripen before eating. This process is called bletting. The fruit make a beautiful jelly.
Our work mornings have continued throughout the summer and a big thank you to everyone who has turned up to cut grass, weed, edge fruit beds and prune the trees. Some of our younger orchard members have been a great help weeding the forest garden.
We are always delighted to welcome new members. There are so many ways to join in and become part of the community orchard. If you would like more information please visit our contact page or download a membership form which can be found on the Orchard page.
The mixture of rain and sun has helped the orchard to thrive again and it’s looking as beautiful as ever in the late summer sunshine.
The apples are begining to ripen and the plums are now purple and ready to eat.
There are abundant nuts on the nut trees and it will be a race to who can pick them first us or the squirrels!
One of our major jobs is also looming on the horizon…scything! The grass in the meadows is now ready to cut. We cut the hay using traditional methods using scythes which will all need inspecting and any repairs made before the scything begins.
Last year, we planted some native wild flowers and they have now begun to flower. Steve spotted these Ox Eyed Daisies, Ragged Robin, Yellow Flag Iris and Foxgloves. Can you guess which of these flowers are below? (Click on the images for the answer)
Ox Eyed Daisy
Yellow Flag Iris
On Tuesday 18th June and Thursday 20th June, the Rainbows, Brownies and Guides paid a visit to help with some planting and to hunt for bugs.
The Rainbows took part in a bug hunt finding slugs, snails, frog hoppers and an unusual scorpian fly.
They then planted a brambley apple tree with the help of Steve Bailey. They are planning a return visit to check that how much it has grown.
The Brownies followed the Rainbows and helped to plant two more brambley apple trees. They also did some amazing team work and planted 156 wild flower and herb plugs into larger pots ready for planting out in September. Their final job was to plant herbs in the forest garden.
The Guides visited on Thursday evening and planted two crab apple trees. They finished the evening around a campfire, toasting marshmallows and singing songs.
If you have a few spare minutes please call into the orchard to enjoy the glorious wild flower meadows. There are carpets of colour all around the trees to be enjoyed. Look out for yellow rattle, clovers, buttercups, vetches, plantains and grasses.