Continuing with Project work through Lock down! June 2020

During lock down work has continued with the Forest Garden Project. Following social distancing rules and regulations, some very hard working orchard members have worked hard to maintain the Forest Garden. Here’s an update from Steve Bailey:

The forest garden is starting to take shape.  The area has been weeded, mulch spread over a part of the area and the route of the pathways finalised.

Sea buckthorn, thimbleberry, Japanese wineberry and elderberry have been planted.  Near the fig tree two types of dye plants, coreopsis and woad, have been planted and a second fig tree introduced.  The first fig tree suffered from a late harsh frost, but has sent up a new shoot and is still showing some signs of life.

There is more mulching to be done, weeds keep appearing and need suppressing, but in the autumn we should be able to introduce more dye plants and finish the paths.

In the meadow areas primroses appeared in the early spring and ragged robin, red campion and oxeye daisies have appeared for the first time in one area.

Yellow rattle is spreading widely and the corncockle is about to flower near the shed.

Project update October 2019

The forest garden has thrived during the summer and the herbs planted by the Brownies have now become established. The weeds continue to grow but we are hoping that a mulch will help to keep them supressed.

The fig tree is growing well and needs protecting before any severe frosts occur.


Rainbows and Brownies help to plant wild flowers June 2019

The rainbows and Brownies joined us on a lovely warm evening to help plant herbs in the forest garden. Once the herbs had been planted the Brownies helped to transfer the wild flower plugs into larger plant pots. By the end of the evening the girls had potted over 100 wild flower plugs. We will now let these plants mature and plant them in the wild flower meadows in the Autumn.

Planting our new Fig tree May 2019

A fig tree has been planted in the new forest garden. Fig trees need their roots curtailing to encourage fruit production so we have planted our tree in a sunken bucket lined with stones.

Weeding the Forest Garden, April 2019

The Forest Garden is now progressing nicely. During our last work morning, many helpers weeded the forest garden and we have begun planting soft fruit bushes. There are several paths still to be laid and we are due to plant a fig tree in the next few weeks.


Erecting the new information board, March 2019

Our new information board has now arrived and is now in place to welcome our visitors and members to the orchard. A huge thanks to all who were involved with part of our project. It is a wonderful addition to the orchard!


The mounting was made by the Lion Mouth Community Interest Company.


Creating the wood chip paths, February 2019

The mild February weather has let us make good progress on the forest garden project. Through the member’s efforts, most of the weeds have been cleared and all of the grass behind the dry stone wall has been moved. The carpet covering on the paths was lifted, relayed and wood chips spread on top.


December 2018

Progress has continued with the forest garden. The edges are now defined and clearing has begun on the weed. Once this is done we can beging to plant and to establish the paths.



October 2018 Using our new apple rack

On our grant application we said that we wanted to purchase an apple rack to aid the storage of apples. This was delivered in September and is now being put to good use. We are storing a variety of apples ready for a later apple tasting session.


Creating paths through the forest garden

With the seating nearly complete, we are now busy with the edging stones and making a path through the forest garden. Canes were placed to mark the paths and carpet was laid as a base for the bark chipping.


We also weeded a large part of the garden and planted several fruit bushes between the trees.

Paving stones in seating area 27th July 2018

The paving stones in the seating area are now in place and good progress is being made with the edging stones. A big thank you must go to all the orchard members who have given up their time and a lot of effort to progress this project.


Work continues on the stone slabs 14th July 2018

Good progress was made on laying the stone slabs and the job is now nearly completed. Whilst some members worked on the seating area, others started weeding and tidying the forest garden area around the seat. Lots of dock leaves were removed and the grassy areas were cut. Some areas which were trodden down during the constrution of the seat were also tidied up.


Laying the stone slabs 7th July 2018

On a glorious summer’s day, orchard members began preparing the ground for the laying of the stone slabs. A lot of sand was wheelbarrowed into place and leveled. Work also began on the edging to define the forest garden area.



Shaping the large coping stones 23rd June 2018

The large coping stones have proved to be a big task. Two members of the orchard continued to work on them. A few more sessions will still be needed before they are completed.



Defining the forest garden area 16th June 2018

Now that the stone wall and seat are nearly complete more of the forest garden plan can be put in place. Stones were laid around the perimeter to define the area. Once the outline has beendecided on, the stones will be sunk in place. The next task will then be the tidying and planting of the forest garden.




Chipping away at the job 12th June 2018

Work has started on the final part of the stone wall. The two large end coping stones have to be shaped by hand so two of our orchard members made a start. This is quite a task and will probably take several sessions before the job is done!





The seating area progresses 9th June 2018

The stone walled seat is nearly finished thanks to the hard work of several of our members on the 9th June. Fortunately there was enough stone to complete the job. All that remains is to finish the larger end coping stones. There is still lots to do, including the paving, tidying of the forest garden area and creating a low wall to define the area.




Work continues on the seated area 19th May 2018

More stone has now been delivered and on a very sunny day work started again. The wall is now beginning to rise above the wooden seat and all of the coping stones, shaped by hand, are ready.






Native Wild Flower Planting 15th May 2018

As part of our current project we purchased some native wild flower plugs. 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.

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

The wild flowers planted were:

Ribwort Plantain, Common Agrimony, Oxeye Daisy, Goatsbeard, Greater Knapweed, Harebell, Clustered Bellflower, Wild carrot, Wild primrose, Common Catsear, Wild white clover, Great Burnet, Teasel, Small scabious





12th May 2018

Although stone wall building has stopped whilst we wait for the next delivery of stone, progress continues. The  batons are now in place and the wooden seating has been put in place. The seating is not secure so it can’t be used yet, but the final effect can be seen.


21st April 2018

On a warm, sunny day, work continued on the seated area. The facing and filling of the gabions was completed and the dry stone walling begin to grow. Wall building will now halt for a few weeks until the next delivery of stone.







14th April 2018

Construction of the seating area

There was a great turn out of people for the start of construction. In, finally, lovely sunny weather, the seating area began to take shape. With other jobs also needing attention we split into three teams, grafting, weeding and construction.







The construction of the seated area will be an ongoing task for the next several months. Having prepared the foundations on the 7th April, the levels of the site were checked and the team were able to create the base using rubble and dolomite. Once this was in place and compacted down with a very handy machine, we began to construct the gabions for the base of the seating. These were wired together and placed a circle according to the plan developed by one of our orchard members. Levels were checked again and the wood seating was put in place to check it fitted well because there would be no opportunity to for corrections once the gabions were filled.







Two members took on the task of preparing the coping stones. Suitable stones had to be choose which were flat and able to be shaped into a semi circle. This was done by drawing a shape onto a stone and chipping round it with a hammer until a rough semi circle emerged.







In the afternoon, several members of the orchard had the opportunity to try their hand a making a stone face for the gabions and backfill them with rubble and sand. Trying to find stones of just the right shape and fit was quite tricky. It gave us a lot of respect for the people in the past who had created the kilometres of dry stone walling we see in the fields today!







By the end of the day, we had made brilliant progress in the seating area: the base and foundations are now complete, the gabions are in place and several have been faced and filled.







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Next task: complete the facing and backfilling of the gabions and begin the dry stone walling around the seating area.

13th April 2018

Delivery of the stone for the dry stone wall and base for the seating area in the forest garden.







7th April 2018

Preparing the ground for the stone seated area in the Forest Garden

A lull in the current rainy weather meant that we were able to meet on the 7th April to prepare the ground and dig the foundations for the stone seated area. Earlier in the year the ground had been marked out and everyone lent a hand to dig out the trenches and assemble the gabions.

The dolomite, stone for the wall and the wood for the seating is due to be delivered this week so it was satisfying that we were able to complete the task on the day.

Another workday has been organised for Saturday 14th April when we will begin the construction of the stone seated area.








March 2018 Work continues on the forest garden walled seating area

We have now started digging the foundations of the walled seated area. The plan is to build a circular dry stone wall with wooden seating. We have sourced the wood for the seating and are due to visit some local quarries to decide on the stone for the walling. The stone wall will be built by the orchard members under guidence from and experienced stone wall builder. This will be another opportunity for members to learn a new traditional craft.

Unfortunately the very snow and wet weather this month has prevented us making any progress on the project.







The start of our new project February 2017

In Februay 2017 we decided to apply for a grant to help us continue the development of Lanchester Community Orchard for the members and our village community. We wanted to create two forest garden areas, add seating, provide information boards for our visitors and improve the diversity of plants and flowers growing in the orchard.

By July 2017 we were all busy preparing the grant application, getting quotes from providers and finalising the details of the areas we wanted to develop.

We were delighted to be awarded the grant of £5,000 by the County Durham Community Foundation at the end of 2017.

2018 will see our plans put into practice as we create a walled seating area in one of the forest garden areas, improve the diversity of wild flowers by purchasing seeds and plugs and erect an information board by the orchard entrance.

January 2018 – work begins on the seating area in the forest garden.


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