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We can’t get out much at the moment because of the coronavirus restrictions but here are a few pictures (slideshow below) of the orchard at Standish Court, just south of Gloucester, taken yesterday and showing how the pear blossom picks out the pears from the apples.
In this particular orchard the contrast is heightened by the abundance of mistletoe – which grows readily on apple trees but rarely on pears. So the apples are covered in mistletoe, the pears are covered in blossom.
Note too that there have been some recent losses – trees blown over – and that this may well be due, at least in part, to too much mistletoe.
With the ongoing crisis over the coronavirus outbreak and emerging advice to minimise social contact, particularly for older age groups, we have decided to postpone our AGM, which was due to be on Saturday 18th April.
We will reschedule the AGM once the progress of the epidemic is clearer. On current thinking the new date is likely to be some months away, possibly in the autumn.
We hope everyone stays safe – and do let committee know if you want to raise any questions in the meantime.
Chair, GOT Committee 17th March 2020
We had a very useful, and thoughtful, meeting with Stroud Preservation Trust (SPT) at Longney on 2nd February.
The derelict Fish House, at the riverside end of the orchard, is very much on our to-do list – decisions need to be made about its future, whether to leave it derelict or try and get funding to restore it it.
We had asked SPT, who specialise in restoration of historic buildings, for their views. They had visited the building before, but this was our first joint visit, with Anne Mackintosh and Steve Hurrell of SPT meeting Ann and Stuart Smith, Jim Chapman and Jonathan Briggs of GOT.
Lengthy discussions followed, on site and over lunch afterwards, but as yet we have no firm way forward. The general consensus was that getting funding would be very difficult, so there is no immediate prospect of restoration. Other options will have to be considered. More on this in due course!
Some pictures from the Wassail at Hartpury on 31st January:
These were taken by Ann Smith.
There are some more pictures on the Hartpury Orchard Facebook page, taken by Terry Darrington:
Advanced notice: Saturday 18 April 2020.
Venue: Brockworth Community Hall.
It’s wassailing time in many of our local orchards and we have a number of events already on the website.
You can see the full list here: https://glosorchards.org/home/events/?tribe_paged=1&tribe_event_display=list&tribe-bar-date=2020-01-01&tribe-bar-search=wassail
Do have a look and come along to one – and if your event isn’t listed let us know and we’ll add it!
The image below is the Stroud Wassail Song – which you may hear at some of the events:
We have, as many will know, been taking part in a national initiative using DNA analysis to rationalise and better understand local varieties – how they relate (literally!) to one another and whether some are identical to others. And, where they are identical to others with differing names (perhaps in other areas) which name should take precedent,
This has been a challenging project, requiring leaf samples from named varieties being sent to labs, particularly East Malling Research centre in Kent, for analysis. The project is not ours – though several people from the GOT committee are involved and we are significant contributors of samples – it is a national initiative we are helping with. Updates on progress overall can be found on the FruitID website’s help pages: https://www.fruitid.com/index.html#help – click on Register of LocalCultivars for documentation.
But where, after 3 years or so of work, have we got to in Gloucestershire?
Well, we do now have new and revised lists of Gloucestershire apple and pear varieties – some details of which rock the boat a little – we have fewer ‘Gloucestershire’ varieties than we thought! But that’s to be expected when everything is compared using DNA – there are bound to be matches and competing claims.
The revised listings (as at the end of November 2019) are now available on the varieties part of our website – https://glosorchards.org/home/fruitvarieties/research/
(Update: the documentation there has been revised – in December 2019 (Pears) and February 2020 (Apples) since this posting – the original files available on the link have now been deleted and replaced by the updated ones)
Our display boards are now installed in the barn at Longney – following sterling work by Stuart, Pete, Ann and Keith who had to battle quite a lot of mud to get onto the site. Our thanks to all of them.
These are the boards used at the Folk Museum two years ago – always intended for Longney afterwards, and now they’re there!
Picture by Pete Smith
Lots of the young trees planted by the group were weighed down with fruit which was particularly good to see and the juice was sweet!
Juicing equipment was provided by Kemerton Orchard Workers – the next village – for a small donation to their fund.
For more info on COCO visit http://www.overbury.org/coco
Jim Chapman has sent these updates about some of the pears in the National Perry Pear Collection – plus, at the end, some new info on some dessert pears too:
Charles Martell, in his 2013 book Pears of Gloucestershire and Perry Pears of the Three Counties, refers to early pears being used to make a quick fermenting sparkling perry ready for Christmas, quoting as authority the late Ray Williams of Long Ashton Research Station.
The orchards at Wick Court in Arlingham, Gloucestershire have an orchard planted in the first part of the 19th century specifically for perry, using the traditional layout of early ripening fruit nearest the mill and later fruit further away, but all their earlies were reworked at some time with the later ripening pear Oldfield.
Recently we have been repropagating these earlies and will be trying to recreate the quick fermenting sparkling perry that was presumably once made at Wick Court. These early ‘harvest’ pears were once far more commonly found on farms, but are now rare, with their fruit not picked, but allowed to fall unused. One of the Wick Court pears, Island Gennet has also been found growing in the GOT orchards at Longney
Another puzzle we hope to resolve concerns a group of three pears whose DNA matches the early Thorn perry pear, but which consistently ripen a month after other Thorn. Again, Charles Martell refers to a later Thorn in his Pears of Gloucestershire, tentatively naming it the Murrell pear. Whether ours is Murrell is unlikely ever to be established, but it is presumably a sport or mutation of the commoner Thorn.
And dessert fruit too:
Another Wick Court pear is one recently named Queen’s Wick View, to commemorate the visit by Queen Elizabeth I. If she had indeed slept in the room tradition specifies (unlikely as it was not built until 50 years after her death!) and if the tree was then growing (which it wasn’t), it would have been in her view from the window.
For the last few years I have picked this pear to try to identify it, and this year tasted it long after picking, when it had done the circuit of shows for over a month – what a transformation, from being a rather indifferent, but apparently perry variety, it had sweetened to remain an unknown but now very pleasant Bergamot type dessert fruit !
All I have to do now is to discover whether I can find a ‘lost’ Bergamot whose description matches. The DNA does not match any pear currently in the National Collection at Brogdale.Thomas Hitt in 1757 wrote “as pears are the best fruit the winter months afford, they are worthy of the greatest care in preserving”. He continued “many thought to be second rate become delicious if stored correctly, melting and rich, but dry and tough if left to ripen outdoors”
NOTE: the orchards at Wick Court are not open to the public, but GOT does occasionally arrange visits to them.
It’s apple picking time and there are events all over the county to celebrate the harvest and customs of traditional orchards. Many are billed as ‘Apple Day’ a concept established by the charity Common Ground way back in 1990. Read more about that on their website at http://www.commonground.org.uk/apple-day/ Many Gloucestershire Apple day events are listed on our website on the Events pages at https://glosorchards.org/home/events/category/allevents/
One particularly exciting event, in the centre of Gloucester itself, is at the Folk of Gloucester (Formerly the Folk Museum) where Gloucester Civic Trust will be hosting the Annual Apple day on Saturday 19th of October 2019 from 10am to 4pm. It will be a Celebration of Gloucestershire Apples and Cider Making.
Come and see Rosie the Cider horse, who is coming for the first time this year to help turn the apple mill and make Apple Day in Gloucester a success. She is taking over from Fergus who has now retired after five years of service.
“This is one of the last fully operational horse powered apple mills in the West Country” said Alex Bailey, Chairman of the Operations Team at The Folk, “and we are very fortunate that we can still demonstrate how it works”
There will also be a chance to try some rare breed apples provided by Gloucestershire Orchard Trust and they will be there to sell apple juice and ciders and provide advice on looking after your own apple trees.
There will be lots of Children’s activities available and Morris Dancers from Lassington Oak performing and giving Morris Dancing workshops.
We will have live music from a folk band and Bygonz performing at the event too.
For extra refreshment there will be Severn Cider running a bar with some of their favourite craft ciders available to buy.
This is a preview event for the Folk of Gloucester (Formerly Folk Museum) which is opening in Spring 2020 and will be an exhibition and events space housed in a large Tudor building in Lower Westgate, Gloucester. It will tell the story of Gloucester Folk from Tudor Times to the Modern Day.
The Folk will be operating a café during the event offering Teas, Coffees, Ciders and soft drinks.
Full Press Release is available here: https://glosorchards.org/home/wp-content/uploads/2019/10/Apple-Day-Press-Release-2019.pdf
Congratulations to Jim Chapman, who, at the National Perry Pear Centre’s Open Afternoon in Hartpury last weekend, displayed 108 varieties of Perry Pear, a World Record. Comfortably beating his own previous record of 97 varieties last year. Most were from the National Perry Pear Centre’s own Hartpury orchards, augmented by a few from Malvern.
You missed it? Don’t worry, you can see the display again next weekend in the Orchard Pavilion at the Malvern Autumn Show. Jim will be on hand to identify any perry pears you may like to bring. A donation is asked for to help the Trust’s work at the Centre.
And GOT’s own stand will be nearby with a Gloucestershire apple display, tasting opportunities for selected (ripe) apple varieties and juice for sale plus tree advice.
We have many listed on the website – including many dates for Apple Day – an event originally set as being October 21st by Common Ground (see http://commonground.org.uk/projects/orchards/apple-day/) but, not surprisingly, now spread out across many early autumn weekends.
Do have a look at the events list on the website – and let us know if you want your event added. The events page is at https://glosorchards.org/home/events/category/allevents/
The next event we’ll be at will be Malvern Autumn Show – this coming weekend – more about that soon…
Many congratulations to Mattias Pihlwret (manager at National Perry Pear Centre at Hartpury) who won:
- best dry cider
- best medium cider
- was highly commended for perry
- won the best Gloucestershire producer award and
- received the overall trophy for best in Show (from international entries, not just from the Three Counties!
Mattias is a GOT committee member – and he obviously knows what he’s doing when it comes to Cider and Perry!
Our work at our Longney orchards is ongoing – and we are particularly pleased this season to finally have sheep grazing – which has been our ambition from the start. The grazing will improve the orchards considerably – from a management, biodiversity and landscape perspective.
Meanwhile the fencing has been completed, benches erected in the barn and interpretation signage is in place. Young people with special needs continue to visit most Mondays and a charity camps in the orchards in early summer.
We also now have our new composting toilet from Free Range Designs up and running – many thanks to volunteers Stuart and Pete for installing. It is already proving popular, particularly with students and staff who visit each Monday! You can find it behind the renovated barn. Some final details need to be completed but it is fully functional. For more about this design visit Free Range Designs here.
And, whilst we’re on the toilet (so to speak), could anyone please provide GOT with:sawdust or wood chip (preferably untreated)? And a large lidded storage bin or wheelie bin? Please let Ann know if you can help via email@example.com Thanks!
Everyone enjoyed the magnificent apple blossom at Days Cottage Blossom afternoon last Sunday, 5th May.
Members, visitors and Stroud Farmers Market friends attended the event at at the Orchard & Rural Skills Centre, home not just of the Gloucestershire varieties of apple but also varied mature and young orchards and a forest garden. Apple cakes and hot spiced apple juice were enjoyed in the cosy yurt. Days Cottage juice, cider and perry and orchard honey and trees were for sale. There was needle felting craft for children.
GOT committee were on hand to sell orchard-related books, hand out literature and chat about orchards.
We owe many thanks to Jane Willoughby who is turning up weekly (and today) to continue formally recording the blossom on the Museum Orchard Gloucestershire apple varieties for the Fruitid.com website.
Pictures by Ann Smith:
Our AGM last weekend, at The Anchor Inn in Epney, was well-attended despite indifferent and rather windy weather – which we feared might put people off coming, especially for the orchard walkabout later.
After the official business was over we enjoyed two presentations – one on the Fish House (in our Longney Orchards) and one on Mason Bees. Juliet Bailey led on the Fish House, summarising her review of the building last year, the changes in overgrowth since we took the site on and the options for the future. In an ideal world we would be able to restore the building and find a use for it – but without funding or, indeed, an obvious use, we may have to consider other options. Juliet outlined the main scenarios – from full restoration to letting it fall down completely. We had a lively discussion over the ways forward, particularly bearing in mind that we are an Orchard Trust and so must prioritise orchard conservation, and so finding a partner organisation more attuned to historic building work might be a way forward. Some early ideas of partnerships are already being explored.
This was followed by a presentation by Chris and John Whittles from Mason Bees UK (www.masonbees.co.uk) who promote the use of Red Mason Bees (Osmia bicornus) as pollinators for gardens and orchards. They talked about their research on Mason Bee life cycles and pollination abilities, comparing this favourably with the more conventional concept of honey bees or bumble bees – Mason Bees being much more efficient.
Their presentation was wide-ranging – covering also experiences elsewhere (e.g. the US in Californian Almond Orchards) with other mason bee species, and the intriguing issue of observable better fruit following mason bee pollination. This phenomenon is perhaps due to differing microbial interaction between bee and flower – with mason bee interactions different to honey or bumble bees. The issue of colony health and good husbandry was covered too – Mason Bee UK’s system involve participants (Bee Guardians) sending the bee cocoons back to them each year to check for parasites etc, with the healthy cocoons and new nesting tubes sent back to hatch on site in spring. This avoids the build-up of pathogens and parasites a permanent ‘bee hotel’ would suffer from. For information on becoming one of their Bee Guardians visit their website here: https://www.masonbees.co.uk/bee-guardians
After lunch most of the attendees travelled the short distance north to our Longney Orchards, to view the changes over the last 12 months – barn restoration, fencing completion, grazing begun, remedial pruning completed etc. And discussion continued about the Fish House – now almost invisible under its covering of ivy – and about Mason Bees – whose release boxes and new nesting sites could be seen on site.
Some more pictures from the day below (pictures by Ann Smith and Juliet Bailey):
A reminder that it’s our AGM (in a pub!) this coming Saturday, 27th April – where, as well as AGM business, we will be discussing the historic Fish House within our orchards at Longney, learning about Mason bees from the people at Mason Bees UK and, if you stay until after lunch, walking around the orchard at Longney to see the blossom and recent changes (incl the restored barn and some sheep!).
Full details here: https://glosorchards.org/home/event/got-annual-general-meeting/
Funded by HLF and the Three Counties Traditional Orchards Project the new signs provide links to find out more about GOT, explain the orchards and invite visitors to explore.
More interpretation will be placed in the barn soon.
Many thanks to Stuart and Pete Smith for erecting the signs.
Click the images to enlarge them.
Last Saturday, 16th March, we held a networking event for community orchard groups at Toddington Village Hall. Far too much was discussed to be reported here – maybe later when we’ve digested it all – but here are some pictures of the many and varied impromptu presentations given to everyone as we toured round the various stalls and displays.
Many thanks to all who attended, and to those who helped. Especially to Alison Parfitt who conceived and masterminded the event.
Martin Hayes is leading pruning workshops at our lovely Longney Orchards on
Thursday 29 November (update: cancelled due to the wind/rain) and Tuesday 18 December 2018, between 10am-3pm (or whatever time people can spare).
As well as people being shown how to prune we will need some people to help pick up brash into piles. If you can’t make these dates, then do come along any Monday in term time to pick up brash into piles supervised or any other time unsupervised. But please don’t do any pruning unsupervised!
On the workshop days you will need a packed lunch and all refreshments, something to sit on and appropriate weather attire/stout footwear. The ground is uneven and there are brambles, nettles and low hanging branches.
Martin has some tools but if you can bring gloves and any tools, that would be helpful.
Come and see the newly renovated barn and enjoy the views and wildlife (we have several species of owls)!
Please try to let Ann Smith know if you can make it. Martin’s number is 07900 985679.
This is a great opportunity to learn new skills or continue with already acquired skills, transferable to your own orchard!
For location details see our Longney Orchard page at https://glosorchards.org/home/got-orchards/ Please park sensitively near the white railings (near Bow Lane Cottage) at Longney. There is no vehicular access to the orchards – just continue on foot down the public right of way track at the white railings).
And in other news…
We also have been advised of a scratter for sale: (Update, 26th November: this is now sold)
Scratter built by Workman’s of Slimbridge c1880. Refurbished to working condition and has been used at Winterbourne Barn in last four seasons. Please contact Rob Govier at: firstname.lastname@example.org to discuss cost, transport and for any other information.
Some more pictures from the Apple Day celebrations at Days Cottage in October. All by Paul Bloomer.
Our friends at masonbees.co.uk have recently analysed the uptake of the Red Mason bee tubes placed at Longney this year (see our bee report from August here). These bees are important and efficient pollinators for many plants, including fruit trees.
The Mason Bee scheme involves the bee tubes being sent back each season for assessment and to ensure the bee cocoons remain safe and viable for next year. These are returned for the following season.
Our results for this season were impressive with 39 sealed cardboard tubes producing a total of 256 cocoons averaging 6.6 cocoons per tube. These were of ‘excellent quality’ weighing in at 26.75 grams per 250 cocoons. Only 4 cocoons were discarded because they were to small and unlikely to be viable.
This confirms their, and our, impression that the orchards are an ideal location for Mason Bees and we will be continuing placing tubes next year, returning our own cocoons to the site and perhaps expanding to cover more of the orchard.
If you want to know more, or would like to try Mason Bees on your own land or garden in 2019 do visit the Mason Bees website at masonbees.co.uk. If you sign-up to their Bee Guardian scheme (a single one-off payment that will cover many years) they will send you a stock of Red Mason bee cocoons and everything you need to support the population of bees that emerge next spring – and the spring after that, and the spring after that! Details at https://www.masonbees.co.uk/product-page/become-a-guardian-with-masonbees-2019
Here’s what it looked like before (left) and below are a few pictures of how it looks now:
Some notes from the events at Days Cottage on National Apple Day, Sunday 21st October 2018. Apple Day, originally launched by Common Ground in 1990, has become an essential part of the orchard calendar.
At Days Cottage scores of visitors came along to see the Orchard and Rural Skills Centre, just south of Gloucester, to enjoy the sunshine in wonderful old and young traditional unsprayed orchards.
People could have fruit identified, order and buy heritage fruit trees, juice apples, appreciate the wildlife, listen to musicians, try spoon carving, and taste and buy juice, cider and perry and rare apple varieties.
There were activities for children too, including making the longest peel and sitting for a most unusual portrait! Folk could relax in the cosy yurt or roundhouse and imbibe mulled apple juice or eat from a range of delicious apple and pear cakes.
GOT was on hand to sell orchard books, including Charles Martell’s apple, pear and plum pomonas (also available to buy from the GOT online shop).
For more information on Days Cottage visit their website at www.dayscottage.co.uk
Photos by Paul Bloomer and Ann Smith.
This week, after lots of planning, work has begun to restore the barn at Longney, with our building contractors Pete and Rosco preparing to put up scaffolding before taking the roof tiles off.
The work will involve jacking up the roof timbers, repairing and replacing timber where needed, repairing the brickwork of the walls, re-building the interior room at the north end and putting all the roof tiles back again.
The open part of the barn will become an exhibition space and shelter for visitors and volunteers working in the orchard and the enclosed room will become a tool store and toilet.
Before work began we needed to clear the piles of material stored in front of the barn. Our regular visitors, students from the Apperley Centre (part of the Shrubberies School) in Stonehouse, have recently been learning how a human chain works, helping move the big pile of bark chippings using buckets:
Our friends at Trust Juice, who market juice from our and other orchards and support GOT with the proceeds, have recently started supplying the Farm Shop at Gloucester Services on the M5 with their juice. Read more about them on the Westmorland (who run the services) website here or watch the video, made at GOT’s Longney Orchards, here:
And yet more pear news from Jim Chapman who writes:
Three new pears discovered at Wick (near Arlingham) have now been named. One is now Zealous, which we have also found in Wales. This means the National Collection now covers the full A – Z of perry pears – from Arlingham Squash to Zealous!
The second is now Felix, because I always take the pears to shows in Felix cat boxes.
The third I am provisionally calling Island Gennet as it is a very early pear (Gennet) found at both Longney and Wick. I am checking whether Island is the best way to refer to the area between the Canal and Severn.
The first two featured in our record breaking display of 97 varieties at Hartpury recently.
More pear news from Jim Chapman who writes:
Buttersend is a perry variety originally identified by Long Ashton Research Station in the 1950s, but subsequently considered to be merely a form of Blakeney Red.
The re-discovered trees, in a location near Hartpury, are now looking aged and last year I decided to use DNA to double-check that they were actually Blakeney Red. They are still fruiting well, and the fruit does look similar to Blakeney Red, as can be seen in this photo of immature fruit (taken early August)
But the DNA results reveal that it is a unique variety, so the Buttersend is reinstated! It is a perry pear worth planting, with specific gravity, acid and tannin percentages already ascertained by Long Ashton (see original record card below).
It is now being budded and will in due course take its place in the National Collection!
Jim Chapman led a fascinating workshop on 15th September at Hartpury Orchard Centre/National Perry Pear Centre, with an introduction, guidance on use of manuals and keys to dessert and culinary pears, plus using manuals and a new approach to keys to perry pears. This was followed by a practical workshop identifying samples of pears, apples and plums (the latter from stones).
There was an opportunity to view for comparison an extensive display of named perry pears (a record 97 varieties!).
Mattias was on hand at lunchtime to show the cider and perry making equipment and provide tastings.
In addition, Jim gave advice on perry orchard planting, choice of variety, rootstock etc and a tour of the perry trial orchard.
GOT was on hand to advise on county and national networking opportunities and resources.
This event was funded by the Three Counties Traditional Orchard Project/Heritage Lottery Fund.
Photos by Ann Smith.
Despite very poor spring weather, efforts to increase the population of Red Mason bees in our Longney orchards have been rewarding. We are increasingly confident that the small relic population of these “super pollinator” insects, which were found in 2017 remains and, thanks to help from Mason Bees UK, may now be multiplying.
The Red Mason bee is a delightful species. Much smaller than the ubiquitous Honey bee, and having a pretty, dusky red colour (and NO sting!), Red Mason bees emerge in April and May from their over-wintering cocoons, or pupae. They immediately search out early blossoming fruit trees, especially apples, and are able to pollinate far more efficiently than most other bees on the wing in spring.
Research has shown that even though, usually, they do not forage more than about 50 metres from their nesting location – usually small natural holes within the trees -they are able to pollinate more blossom, under more inclement conditions, than almost any other bee species. Which is why they are probably among the most valuable of insects to orchard owners.
In 2017, with advice and help from Mason Bees UK, around 16 artificial nest pipes – each holding special cardboard tubes for egg laying and storing pollen food – were placed in Long Tyning and Bollow. These would help to ascertain whether there were Red Mason bees present among these long established trees. At the end of the season, 4 of the 15cm cardboard tubes held within several of nest pipes had been used by the bees. Clearly we had a small active population. These filled tubes, each containing up to 5 pupae, were sent to Mason Bees UK to be opened, inspected and stored over the winter. Healthy pupae were then returned to us this spring, together with additional 40 pupae and 2 release boxes, for redistributing among the trees in order to try and boost numbers for the future.
The year’s results have been most encouraging. A total of 11 nest pipes contained 39 “sealed” (with characteristic clay – type soil plugs) cardboard tubes – a most encouraging result. These will again be returned to Mason Bees UK for the winter, with a new consignment of pupae arriving in Longney in March/April next year. We hope this will result in another year of significant increase during 2019, beyond which we could be well on the way to achieving a healthy self – sustaining population. We will, of course, be liaising closely with Mason Bees UK, as their objective is to substantially increase Red Mason bee populations nationally to the point where stocks can be offered to commercial orchard owners to boost fruit yields. And of course, help secure the future of this valuable native species. We will keep you posted!
This weekend saw the first ever National Plum Day, recently established as being the 2nd Saturday of August each year. The aim is help restore plums to the top of the British fruit charts. The Day has been set up by the Pershore Plum Festival, the Three Counties Traditional Orchard Project and The Vale Landscape Heritage Trust.
Commenting on the launch of National Plum Day, event organiser, Angela Taylor said:
“Plums were once the nation’s favourite fruit and for good reason, they even helped win WW1 as jars of plum jam kept the troops in the trenches going. Plums are packed with nutrients and antioxidants, said to help control obesity and diabetes, aid digestion and are great for skincare – to name but a few benefits. What’s more, we grow them here in the UK, yet many plum orchards have fallen into neglect. We want to see this versatile fruit top shopping lists and restaurant menus again and National Plum Day is the perfect place to start”.
It may be too late to celebrate Plum Day (it finished yesterday!) but the Pershore Plum Festival happens throughout August. It celebrates its long association with plums of all varieties and sees this riverside market town become a sea of purple and yellow, reflecting the colours of its two most famous plums – the Pershore Purple and the Pershore Yellow Egg Plum.
The main events of the Pershore Plum Festival take place from Saturday 25 – Monday 27 August. Full details are available on the festival website: www.pershoreplumfestival.org.uk
We are hoping to do repairs to the barn, on the boundary of Long Tyning and Bollow orchards, this summer, and have been clearing the vegetation around it in preparation for this. Particular thanks are due to Martin, Alison and the Monday special needs school kids for clearing the wire and vegetation on the north and east sides and to David and Martin for additional clearing on the southern end.
There has also been much remedial pruning of the plums in Bollow orchard, carried out by Martin and David in recent weeks. Summer pruning of plums helps to reduce any further infection with Silver Leaf Disease.
Meanwhile, in Longney village, we have been promoting GOT and explaining our involvement in the orchards at the Longney village school fete, where Alison and Martin found Trust Juice to be a real draw that led to lots of conversations about the orchards and their wider value.
New sign boards have recently been designed (thanks Jane) for the orchards, one for each of the three entrances – from Longney, and North and south from the river path. These will be installed soon.
And, last but not least, John Fletcher has been recording wildlife, particularly birds, at the orchards. His most recent bird lists include Barn Owls, Buzzard, Swifts (circling the orchards all afternoon), Great Spotted Woodpecker, Green Woodpecker, Dunnock, Green Finch, Chiffchaff, Blackcap, Song Thrush, Bullfinch, Collared Dove, Reed Bunting, Sedge Warbler (one pair busy taking food to a hidden nest to some very noisy young) and Reed Warbler. Some of John’s excellent photos of his Longney sightings are shown in the slideshow below (all pictures copyright John Fletcher):
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