We are now posting all news in a ‘blog’ format which should help us post updates and news on a regular basis. The post you’re reading now will always be at the top, – scroll down to read the latest posts. There are also links in the side-bar and from social media. You can also search for news by clicking on the category listings above this text.
We have recently (May 2018) helped launch two new books – Native Plums of Gloucestershire by Charles Martell and The Shadow Orchard by Jim Chapman. Details of both (with ordering buttons!) are below.
Native Plums of Gloucestershire
The first section of this book describes the stone fruit of Gloucestershire and completes Charles Martell’s trilogy of Gloucestershire fruit manuals (the others being Gloucestershire Apples and The Pears of Gloucestershire Perry Pears of the Three Counties). The three volumes together remind us of the debt owed to Charles who, appreciating the rapid loss of our orchard heritage, undertook the mammoth task of tracking down those fruit varieties that still remained, creating the Gloucestershire collections of apples, pears and plums.
The second section discusses what is meant by the names plum, bullace, pruin and damson and when and how they arrived in our countryside, with a brief comment on identification. Much of this section was inspired by the presentations and discussions at and following the National Stonefruit Conference organised by the Three Counties Traditional Orchard Project at Hartpury in August 2017.
It then considers the Shadow Orchard and the emergence of fruit into the managed orchard. It looks at the uses of the plum and cherry in recent centuries and today. Finally, it describes the stonefruit heritage collection being planted by Gloucestershire Orchard Trust in their orchards at Longney and its purpose.
The Shadow Orchard
The Shadow Orchard is the name given to the fruit-bearing trees found growing outside the cultivated orchard, in the surrounding hedges, woods and commons. Their origins are either as indigenous trees or as otherwise long-established features of the landscape.
In this booklet Jim Chapman explains and explores the Shadow Orchard, its fruits, uses, origins and its conservation significance and needs.
To see more about these or any of our other books please visit our Bookshop page.
Jim Chapman writes:
On one of the best mornings of this spring, 17 folk arrived just before dawn (5am) to ramble round the Hartpury orchards and listen to the birds waking up.
It was a superb morning – there was a low-lying mist to start, then a huge sunrise.
Led by Keith Turner, we heard (and he identified) 31 different birds, including the rare Cetti’s warbler again – they are becoming regular visitors and at least one pair is probably breeding. As usual the cuckoo made its presence known – one of the orchards has always been known as the Cuckoo Pen.
Toast and hot drinks rounded off the morning – sitting at the picnic tables, overlooking Catsbury hill, with perry pear orchard in the foreground – and all before 7am!!
At Days Cottage last weekend the Blossom Afternoon had less blossom than expected but, as the brief animation on the left shows, everyone enjoyed themselves!
There are a few more pictures from the event below – including some of the musical interlude. We do have a video of some of this, and may upload that soon.
Meanwhile, down on the riverside at Longney, the situation is similar, with some trees in full blossom and others yet to gain full glory. Pictures below:
Others are already over and done – it all depends on the variety: The picture below shows a tree on the hill above Wick Court, photographed today. Some is in full bloom, some has finished flowering, indicating that this tree is a grafted tree where the original rootstock has developed its own branches, making a half and half tree of two varieties, each with a different flowering time:
A lovely day was had by young and old in an orchard in the village of Gorsley, near Newent last Saturday, 21st April. The workshop was organised by GOT and funded by TCTOP. There was lots of cake and tea on hand to keep the band of workers motivated throughout the day. Martin Hayes was the expert who provided the tuition and direction so that everyone of any skill level could make a valid contribution to helping to restore this lovely traditional orchard. At the end of the day everyone retired to the pub for food, drink and a speech of thanks from Martin.
GOT enjoyed a blossom afternoon with cream tea at Sue Gibson’s apple and pear espalier garden at Slimbridge on Sunday 22 April 2018.
Sue teaches gardening and the training of fruit trees in small spaces.
She gives 10% discount on courses to GOT members. School Gibson School of Gardening: http://www.iteachgardening.co.uk
Visit our events pages for more events at Sue’s garden.
And, talking of blossom, don’t forget the Blossom Afternoon at Days Cottage on Sunday 29th April. As Dave Kaspar pointed out a few days it looks as if we may have plums, cherries, pears and apples all flowering at the same time this year – very unusual… Details here: https://glosorchards.org/home/event/blossom-afternoon-at-days-cottage-orchard-rural-skills-centre/
Our AGM on 14th April took place at the Anchor Pub, Epney in the morning, followed by a walkabout in our orchards at Longney after lunch..
After the official AGM business was concluded we spent an hour or so discussing the future of GOT. While celebrating the success of our work at Longney we were looking forward – discussing what GOT could do next, how GOT could create mutually beneficial relationships with others such as orchard owners and other organisations with relevant interests. Five discussion groups came up with a series of suggestions, many complementary to each other. As with any voluntary organisation, we can’t do everything at once but these bright ideas have opened up lots of possibilities. (Thank you Alison Parfitt for masterminding the discussion groups)
The walkabout in the afternoon was blessed with beautiful weather, with wonderful views down the river and across the new plantings at the orchards.
Some pictures, courtesy of Paul Bloomer, below, showing the AGM itself, the discussion groups afterwards and finally the walkabout…
We are meeting at the Anchor Inn, Epney from 10.00am to 1.00pm and afterwards (you can buy lunch at the pub) we will be going on to our nearby Longney Orchards for a walkabout to see the new Gloucestershire Collection Plantings, at about 2.00pm.
At the AGM we are selling orchard books, including Jim Chapman’s new Shadow Orchard booklet (IF back from the printers – we hope so!) and we are taking orders for Charles Martell’s Plum Pomona – a very rare book, all about Gloucestershire plums & damsons! We will have the proof for you to look at. Many other orchard books for sale.
While we celebrate the achievements at our Longney orchards we also need to look forward. So during the AGM we are asking people to join discussions to talk together about:
- how we can make use of and contribute to our new website
- how can GOT gain income – we already sell our fruit from Longney
- what can GOT do for and with orchard owners in Gloucestershire
- what would you like to see GOT doing in the FUTURE? In say 5, and then 10 years hence
Please note that after the AGM in the morning we be driving the short distance to Longney Orchards. Please don’t park at the orchard entrance (ie not at the white railings) but a few hundred yards at YEW TREE FARM as the verges are getting so muddy and need to recover. Roger Godwin has kindly offered us parking in his yard at Yew Tree Farm – there will be signage.
You will need wellies as it is a muddy walk down the public footpath to the orchards. We look forward to seeing you!
AGM Agenda and other details are at https://glosorchards.org/home/event/got-agm/
Martin Hayes has sent in some photos of the activities at Longney today – where volunteers were weeding, tidying and generally making things good.
“The first ‘Doing Day’ at Longney orchards . Removing barbed wire from trees and putting up wire guards . Preparing for the arrival of sheep in April/May.
Attendees were Alison Parfitt, Sue Gibson, Tim Andrews (OC), Jude, Sally the ‘Orchard Ninja’ and Martin Hayes
Thank you one and all.
Keep an eye out for the next ‘Doing Day’ in April. All welcome”
If the people in the pictures look a little odd in their poses, remember that they are removing wire from trees!
A picture of the new Gloucestershire Collection plantings at our Longney Orchards. This a 180 degree panorama. Click to enlarge, or right-click to open in a new tab to see it full-sized (you’ll need to scroll left and right!)
The culmination (so far!) of our efforts to establish two major new orchards adjoining our existing orchards on land alongside the River Severn. These new orchards, known as Middle and Lower Orchards, will be home to over 250 varieties of mainly Gloucestershire apples, plums and cherries, totalling over 450 trees.
These represent one of the most extensive plantings of heritage fruit varieties in the Three Counties for some time. They will help to safeguard the genetic and cultural riches in this part of the country and across the UK. Once DNA and other varietal checks are completed, these new plantings will mean that our Longney orchards are likely to become part of the National Fruit Collection.
Many thanks to both Tim Parry (mostly Middle Orchard) and Martin Hayes (mainly Lower Orchard) for the planting work.
Next month there are a number of traditional orchard Wassails which are well worth going along to. They are great fun for all the family: young and old alike. There’s often singing, story-telling, dancing, food and of course cider!
Our Partner Events page lists some of them – or you can click the links below to get more details on specific wassails:
- Horsley Wassail ‘ Sing to the trees ’, Saturday, January 6th
- Littleton Lifesaver Cider Wassail Friday, January 12th
- Horfield Organic Community Orchard Wassail, Saturday, January 13th
- Wick Court Wassail, Saturday, January 20th
- Hartpury Orchard Centre Wassail, Friday, February 2nd
Perry Christmas everybody!
Some pictures (and words) from Martin Hayes, documenting some of the recent work at our Longney Orchards.
We (particularly Martin) have been hard at work here this season – if you came to the orchards over the summer do come again soon and see what we have been up to in the interim.
Educational days have become much easier with our own orchards . With help from NE , TCTOP and Trust Juice we have had some great days.
Some pictures from the Days Cottage Apple Day, all taken by Mark Saunders:
Harvest time is here and we’re in the middle of Apple Day Celebrations!
National Apple Day (established by Common Ground back in 1990) is set as the 21st October. But, as many orchard events effectively compete with each other, Apple Day celebrations are often spread over several weekends in October. So some have already happened, others take place over the next week or so (school half term). For events near you try contacting community orchards in your area – our website listing hasn’t yet been updated but you can access the old list here: https://glosorchards.org/home/localorchards/
Apple Day at Days Cottage was last weekend and involved apples, bees, music, spoon-making and needle-felting! BBC Radio Gloucestershire (Fay Hatcher’s programme) were on hand to record the celebrations and you can hear an extract below:
It’s the middle of our working weekend at Longney – which aims to clear away all the piles of prunings from the last year or so, get the orchards mown, weeding around the new plantings and mulching them with chippings (made from the prunings).
Topping is well underway, as local contractor Richard Dyer has already mown what can be reached in between the pruning piles. So today, Saturday, the main task for our volunteers was clearing those prunings: Extracting the cut branches from their piles (some overgrown with nettles), cutting them up where necessary and then feeding them to the chipper, hired for the weekend and paid for by our friends at Trust Juice (thanks Trust Juice).
Plus weeding around some of the new plantings in preparation to using some of the chippings as a mulch. And some burning of material too difficult to chip. And retention of some larger wood for habitat creation.
How did it go today? Very well indeed. A good turn-out, a lot of effort, and a definitely obvious result – Long Tyning (the orchard we were in today) already looks very different. And there’ll be more action tomorrow (Sunday 1st October) – turn up from 10am if you want to help…
It’s that time of year again – when people start collecting, harvesting or simply noticing, fruit and quite often want to know variety of apple, pear etc they are picking or eating or looking at.
Is it unusual, rare, common? What is the best use of it – cider, perry, dessert, or cooking? And, if you have a lot, what are the keeping qualities?
There are many resources that can help – both within and outside GOT – and a few are listed below.
Firstly it’s worth noting that we are due to develop our ‘Varieties’ website at glosorchards.org/home/fruitvarieties soon – but unfortunately not in time for harvest this year. However there are some archived resources from our old website available via that site – for a full index of those click here.
Secondly there are people who can help direct including:
- Perry pears – contact Jim Chapman email@example.com (small charge)
- Apples – the Marcher Apple Network www.marcherapple.net are experts – (proforma needed or visit at the shows they
attend, including Malvern Autumn Show, Big Apple Harvest Time Weekend etc). (small charge)
- Brogdale Horticultural Trust (by post, charge) http://www.brogdalecollections.org/
- Apple Afternoon at Days Cottage – 8th October (details here) or bring small amounts to Stroud Farmers Markets
on Saturdays to their stall
Or, thirdly, you could try DIY id online at Fruitid.com a national fruit self-identifying website with high quality photographs, more added continually and aiming to eventually have all tree fruits.
And, last but by no means least, you can look up local fruit varieties in GOT’s own publications, including
- Pears of Gloucestershire and Perry Pears of the Three Counties, by Charles Martell (2013) and
- Native Apples of Gloucestershire by Charles Martell (2014)
Both are available on our bookshop page here.
The stone fruit conference at Hartpury College in August was a great success – well-attended and with wide-ranging talks.
Jim Arbury, Fruit Specialist at RHS Wisley, introduced us to plums and cherries, covering traditional and modern types and varieties, Helen Stace of Colwall Orchard Group told us the history of Colwall’s orchards, the entrepreneurial approach once taken by the local landowner in establishing orchards and fruit-processing around the whole village, and the recent work by the Orchard Group to restore the orchards.
Nick Dunn, from Frank P Matthews Trees for Life, reviewed stone fruit pests and diseases and new approaches to treatment. Jenni Waugh gave a lively talk on the importance of Pershore in plum production with particular emphasis on ‘how the Pershore Plum won the Great War’ (via jam for the troops!).
Paul Read, Suffolk Traditional Orchard Group, discussed the problems of stone fruit identification, particularly the opportunities from the new digital plum library and the FruitID website and Matt Ordidge, University of Reading, talked about the role of local collections and the context of the National Fruit Collection at Brogdale, now curated by University of Reading..
All this against a background of many stalls and displays manned by organisations and individuals from across the three counties and beyond.
Thanks to Three Counties Traditional Orchard Project for organising it, particularly Karen Humphries and her orchard champion volunteers. And to Hartpury College for an excellent venue. The pictures here are courtesy of Karen.
Gloucestershire Orchard Trust is delighted to have collaborated with Walcot Organic Nursery, near Pershore, to sell an increasing range of Gloucestershire plum and damson trees.
The trees are on Brompton rootstock (vigorous, required for Countryside Stewardship and/or where cattle graze) and on St. Julien A rootstocks (less vigorous).
Some of these varieties are extremely rare, so this is a unique opportunity, not to be missed!
For more details please visit http://walcotnursery.co.uk/sections/gloucestershire-plums.html
Last weekend we ran two workshops at the same time, both at Wick Court, Arlingham. Martin Hayes led a workshop on the skills of summer pruning on old and young trees in the orchards around Wick Court. At the same time Jim Chapman led a group around the estate discussing how to ‘read’ the orchards, combining historical research and field observations to work out how the orchards developed over the centuries.
Here’s a brief slide show of some of the day’s activities:
Thanks to the Three Counties Traditional Orchard Project for sponsoring these events.
During the visit we saw oak woodlands of varying management and some 100 year old cherry orchards with abundant wildlife.
Wildlife on the day included a hobby chasing young housemartins, fallow deer plus wildlflowers cow wheat (Melampyrum pratense) and narrow-leaved helleborine (Cephalanthera longifolia).
The site is part of Ruskin’s Guild of St. George www.guildofstgeorge.org.uk . It is run as a Community Land Trust, with social enterprise and community involvement at its heart.
One of the neighbouring orchards formed part of a national ecological study (one of six traditional orchards) by Natural England which shows traditional orchards are a rich habitat for biodiversity (home to up to 1800 species of fauna and flora). Orchards have since become national priority habitat.
Thanks to funding by the Three Counties Traditional Orchard Project and Heritage Lottery Fund:
Today we launched our Orchards Exhibition at Gloucester Life Museum, where it will stay until just before Christmas. The launch party was a modest affair, but was attended by many of our most enthusiastic supporters! This is the first time we have created an exhibition of this sort and we are hopeful this approach will enthuse an even wider audience than usual.
We are very grateful to Three Counties Traditional Orchard Project and the Heritage Lottery Fund for supporting the exhibition and to Gloucester Life Museum for hosting it. You can see it at the Museum until mid-December, and after that some of the panels will transfer to the barn at our orchards in Longney. Some pictures from today’s launch follow below as a slide show.
We now have a new logo (and we hope you like it!)! Designed for us by Gloucester-based designer Jane Bromham the image aims to visually represent orchards themselves – both trees and fruit – and activity –the need for active management and the social opportunities this provides. The exact colour scheme is not yet finalised, but it will usually be in shades of green. Though variants will be possible – the three versions below, for example, are from the display boards for our new exhibition in Gloucester Life Museum (being launched on June 30th – details on our Events pages here):
The Three Counties Traditional Orchard Project have just announced details of Stone fruit: An orchard conference. Taking place on Saturday 19th August in the lovely setting of Hartpury College, this is an exciting opportunity for orchard enthusiasts, fruit lovers, growers and researchers to come together to network and share experiences, knowledge and resources.
The line up of speakers includes Jim Arbury (RHS), Nick Dunn ( RHS, Frank P Matthews), Helen Stace (Colwall Orchard Group), Jenni Waugh and Professor Maggie Andrews (University of Worcester), Paul Read (Suffolk Traditional Orchard Group) and Dr. Matt Ordige (University of Reading), covering topics as diverse as pests and diseases to social history and local collections. And while the emphasis is on traditional orchards we’ll also be looking at what the future holds for growing and conserving our local stone fruits.
At lunch time you’ll be able to browse an orchard ‘bazaar’ – stalls offering advice and information , including Natural England, the Animal and Plant Health Agency, Walcot’s organic nursery, Bewdley cherry expert, Brian Stephens, The People’s Trust for Endangered Species and local orchard and conservation groups. There will also be a chance to look at Gloucestershire Orchard Trust’s pioneering LOMIS orchard mapping system, now being trialled in their orchards.
Do bring along your own stone fruit to add to a display table – let’s see how many varieties we can show !
Our Longney Orchards were host this month to Creative Camping, run by a Gloucestershire-based project running innovative children’s services projects.
The camping project enables disabled and non-disabled teenagers to spend the weekend together under canvas, encouraging self agency, positive risk taking, cooperation, friendship and inclusion. And, in this location, also helping build understanding and appreciation of traditional orchards! Here are a few pictures of the camp this month – more are planned.
You can find out more about Creative Camping and Creative Sustainability CIC (who run the camps) on their website here: http://www.cscic.org/info/
‘Creative Camping is not just an event is a place close to my heart. Before going to creative camping I was a shy a non-confident person who was too sacred to talk to new people …’
Our AGM on 29 April at the Anchor Inn in Epney was enjoyed by all, starting off with a wonderful view of a 3 Star Severn Bore conveniently coinciding with the meeting’s opening time.
The business of day – reports, elections and updates on variety research – was then quickly finished and followed by a fascinating and very inspiring presentation by John Iles on cherry orchards in the Wyre Forest.
The Wyre Community Land Trust have restored many orchards in the area, where many feature within the assarts (clearings) of the forest. They have had both HLF and Higher Level Stewardship funding though they are concerned about the future, particular what will replace the HLS scheme. They also have some commercial enterprise including a juicing business on a farm in the area.
Members and guests staying until the afternoon had lunch at the pub before travelling just up the road to our orchards at Longney.
Here we held a walkabout around the 18 acres of traditional orchards, showing members and visitors all the work in progress, thanks to the hard work of our volunteers. This includes new plantings of national, regional and local heritage collections of plum & cherry with the entire Gloucestershire apple collection being planted at the end of this year.
Some pictures of the walkabout are posted below (click to enlarge any photo):
As part of our new website project we are planning to do a lot more with social and interactive media, including video, and so we are pleased to announce that our new YouTube channel is now live and available to visit at: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCwhbZYL3QnP2kTZ61exoQJg
So far we have 4 videos, all made for us by by Sarah Pitt and David Parkinson last year, and all starring our chairman Keith Turner talking about specific orchard issues including maintenance, choosing the right root stock, and orchard biodiversity, Here he is explaining why orchards are magic places:
The Perry blossom is nearly over now, but Apple Blossom time is just beginning. Here are a few close-ups of different varieties in flower – though they really are best seen en masse in an orchard.
Why not visit one of GOT’s orchards or orchard centres in the next few weeks to admire the blossom? Details of locations are available on the Our Orchards page. Or go to one of the organised blossom time events. A few are listed in our events listing – click here for just the blossom events..
Saturday 29 April 2017 at The Anchor Inn, Epney. 10am-1pm, with walkabout after lunch.
AGM plus Guest speaker John Iles, Founder and a Director of the Wyre Community Land Trust, who will be talking about ‘The orchards of the Wyre Forest; a new chapter’.
John says “with Heritage Lottery Fund money and Higher Level Stewardship, we have restored many orchards which need careful maintenance to come to maturity and production. The HLF scheme is now over and we will have HLS schemes coming to an end over the next few years with uncertainty as to what will come next. Many of the sites are SSSI so will be protected. We have helped set up a commercial juicing business on a farm in the area and so many of us are now using that service to juice our fruit.”
Lunch available at the pub, and we will follow the meeting and talk, at 2 to 2.30-4pm, with a walkabout at GOT’s Longney Orchards, a short distance from the pub.
About the venue and the AGM:
The function room upstairs for meetings has a superb river view. Plenty of parking. Attendees to place food orders on arrival. For pub details and map http://whatpub.com/pubs/GLO/0213/anchor-epney Nominations Any nominations for officers (chairman, vice-chairman and treasurer) and other items for discussion should be submitted to me, Ann Smith (coordinator/secretary) at least 10 days prior to the AGM. Please note that we are especially looking for a new Chairman as Keith Turner would like to retire. We are also looking for Membership Secretary, Publicity/Exhibition Officer and Online Coordinator. Ann will continue as Company Secretary. Can you help please? firstname.lastname@example.org 109 Orchard Way, Churchdown, Gloucester GL3 2AP
Free for GOT members (and their household) and £2 for non members (waived if you join on the night).
We’ve had a splendid display of blossom in our perry trees and perry orchards in the last few weeks, but it’s now almost over. Here a few pictures of local perry orchards in bloom, just to show how wonderful they can be.
Pictures provided by Mary Nelson, John Keighley and Jim Chapman.
For details of local blossom time events click here.
This will be the new website for the Gloucestershire Orchard Trust (GOT). It is under construction at present – our existing website at gloucestershireorchardtrust.org.uk is the place to find information until this site is complete. Feel free to explore the structure, but please note that the content is not yet complete and there are editing notes on most pages. And there are not many pictures yet – but there will be many more soon.
We hope to have the new site up and running fairly well in time for our AGM on 29 April 2017. The aim is to split the current site into several sections, this main site describing GOT and what it does, with news, information on events and how to get involved. We hope to build much stronger social media links as part of this.
The sections in our current website on Fruit Varieties, Local Orchards and Orchard Advice will be rebuilt as subsites alongside the main site – these are also being built at present and available via the links below. Note that these sites will take longer to build, so may not be ready before the end of April:
- Fruit Varieties – new website (under construction)
- Local Orchards – new website (under construction)
- Orchard Advice – new website (under construction)
Primary navigation for each website (the main one and the specialist ones) is via the menu below the logo at the top of the page. This will be a bar across the page on a wide screen or a drop-down on a smaller screen or phone. The menu above the logo has short-cut links to the various specialist sites and back to the main site.
The side-bar will provide short-cuts and feeds to our blog, facebook, twiiter feeds etc – formatting is not yet finalised.
A note on the logo
We are currently reviewing our logo, so the websites you see under construction all use different variants at the moment, just to see how they work.
The OrchardMarketplace website
A new post just to test the website structure and to see whether and when that grey pencil images appears by default
Trust Juice is pressed unsprayed apples from Gloucestershire orchards, including our own Gloucestershire Orchard Trust orchards at Longney.
The fruit is picked by volunteers, including a little help from students from the Apperley Centre, the Shrubberies School.
The aim is to give all the profits made from sales of Trust Juice to organisations and activities related to the conservation and celebration of traditional orchards in Gloucestershire, including Gloucestershire Orchard Trust.
Trust Juice is available £24 for 12 bottles.
Phone Martin Hayes 07900 985679 or Alison Parfitt 01242 584982.
Alison Parfitt email@example.com