– thanking the orchard for the harvest
– welcoming back the sun
– encouraging our good orchard spirits and reminding the trees to wake up after winter
– generally having a good song and dance around the orchard
– Simon our butler/Green Man and masked wassailers enjoying a bonfire afterwards. Continued
A video from Cheltenham Borough Council about the work to reinstate a traditional orchard at Weavers Field. Featuring GOT’s own Martin Hayes.
Tom Adams from Tom Adams Fruit Tree Nursery has contacted GOT to say he still has a wide range of bare root apple and pear trees for sale this season. Tom says:
I run an organic fruit tree nursery in Shropshire and specialise in apple and pear varieties from the borderlands.
I work closely with the Marcher Apple Network and a few year ago Jim Chapman from the National Perry Pear Collection allowed me access to his collection and I now have a wide range of Perry pear trees for sale.
We are nearing the end of the bare root season and I still have quite a few trees left for sale.
If you know of any projects and and individuals that may be interested in such trees please do pass on my details.
Tom’s current stock list is available on this pdf. https://glosorchards.org/home/wp-content/uploads/2024/02/tomtheapplemanpearlist.pdf
http://www.tomtheappleman.co.uk 07776 498936
Come the first agreeable afternoon this month I intend to start pruning the apple trees. Pruning is not difficult and whatever you do you are not likely to kill the tree, but good pruning results in higher production and better quality fruit. The mantra is start with dead, damaged, diseased, and crossing but I would prefix that with “why am I going to the effort of pruning it at all”. In my experimental orchard of about 100 varieties I’ve had them long enough to know that there are some I can hardly be bothered with. Result – they don’t get touched until they are overcrowding a variety I like and then they get a severe chop for firewood – Shepperdine Silt was the first to get this honour, a highly vigorous tree with large quantities of disgusting little fruit going rotten before they dropped. Cut at about knee height three years ago it has resprouted vigorously. Remember, I said I cut it off at knee height. Had I done it at ankle height it would still probably have regrown, but it would be from the rootstock below the graft union so it would no-longer be a Shepperdine Silt.
I don’t want to lose any variety in my collection. It is entirely possible that I haven’t discovered the best use for this variety yet. It took me years to discover that Green Two Year Old becomes edible after Christmas and currently is a nice crisp tart green eater, and will go on well for several months eventually becoming yellow. It is fine for cooking too.
All the varieties I planted were thought to be Gloucestershire varieties at the time. Thanks to DNA analysis, where GOT is sending off “our varieties” for testing, we now know that Green Two Year Old matches the variety held in the National Fruit Collection as French Crab, and Shepperdine Silt is Lord Lambourne. All credit to the pioneers of varietal conservation in Gloucestershire, Charles Martell, Richard Fawcett and Alan Watson; without their work more than 20 years ago we wouldn’t have the luxury of testing the varieties which they secured against possible extinction to find out how unique each one really is. Though my Green Two Year Old matches the description of French Crab fine, my Shepperdine Silt can’t be the same high-quality dessert fruit as Lord Lambourne. Summat wrong somewhere
One of life’s little pleasures is to watch the fermentation, the tiny bubbles rising to the neck of the demijohn, or the bubbler airlock filling with gas and pushing a ball of gas up the escape route.
It is good to keep an eye on the process – the level of liquid on the two sides of the bubbler should be different, with the level lower on the jar side than the escape side.
This means that fermentation is occuring as it should and the likely outcome will be cider and not vinegar.
The annual wassail at The Folk in Gloucester on 13 January was a super well-attended affair with lots of morris dancing, sales stands, blessing of the Ashmeads Kernel in the courtyard, and the use of the late (and great) Eric Freeman‘s wassail cup.
Picture (click to enlarge) by Juliet Bailey.
Saturday 20 January 2024, 2 – 4pm
Toast the orchard for a fruitful harvest
Bring ribbons, clouties & shining things to dress the trees
Make merry with Pigsty Morris
Homemade cake and mulled Orchard juice for sale
We Wassail whatever the weather!
Horfield Organic Community Orchard welcome all to Wassail and wake up the fruit trees at Horfield Organic Community Orchard on Saturday 20 January”, says Shannon Smith aka the Apple Tree Lady. “Whatever the weather – help us liven up a wonderful seasonal tradition that celebrates people, community, and nature”.
The ceremony kicks off soon after 2.30pm. Pigsty Morris bring their dancing and merry making to the festivities. Mulled juice and homemade cake for sale.
To find the Orchard (nearest postcode BS7 8JP):
Walk down the lane beside 22 Kings Drive (between Bishop Road and Kellaway Avenue), turn left and it’s the first gate on the right.
Take the lane beside 134 Longmead Avenue until you come to the last gate on the left.
Dogs on leads, please.
The courses will be run by Nicole Clough, a dedicated environmentalist who has spent much of her working life in the wildlife and conservation movements. The course will introduce attendees on how to use and look after an Austrian scythe, is suitable for complete beginners and also for those who may already have some experience but feel that scything could be working better for them.
– Introduction and familiarisation
– Setting up an Austrian scythe
– Movement and technique
– Mowing practice (there is usually an abundance of grass and nettles at Longney!)
– Sharpening in the field
– Maintenance and peening the blade
Space is limited to 6 attendees per course. The cost – partially subsidised by the Trust and thanks to a donation from Martin Hayes – is £50 per person for members (and £65 for non-members).
If you’d like to attend then please get in touch with David Lindgren David.email@example.com or Martin Hayes Martin.firstname.lastname@example.org
We are arranging a tour of orchards in the northern reaches of Gloucestershire – we’ll cross the border into southern Herefordshire, so you’ll need to have your passport with you and had all the necessary jabs – and have set a date of Friday 26th April.
The date has been chosen in the hope and expectation that many of the fruit trees in the orchards we’ll visit will be in blossom, the likelihood of which is enhanced that the orchards we’ll be visiting contain both perry pear and apple trees … (but the presence or otherwise of blossom is, of course, determined by natural forces, well beyond the control of the Trustees).
Price per person: £20
Details of the itinerary will be confirmed in due course, but the current plan is as follows:
– Meet at Henley Bank, Brockworth, at 10:00.
– Tour of Henley Bank orchards
– Visit two orchards in an around Dymock and Bromesberrow
– Visit orchards in Putley and / or Preston Cross
– Tour of an orchard in Overbury
– Tour of an orchard in Winchcombe
– Return to Henley Bank, Brockworth at 16:00.
We can have a maximum of 15 people. To reserve your place please contact either David Lindgren David.email@example.com or Martin Hayes firstname.lastname@example.org