Little Owl boxes (re)installed at Longney

The Little Owl boxes in our Longney Orchards have now all been erected in trees around the site, including the box whose original tree fell in strong winds earlier this year.

The boxes, kindly donated by the Gloucestershire Raptor Monitoring Group, were mounted on fruit trees and a pollarded willow at GOT’s Longney Orchards.

Thanks to Stuart and Pete who installed them all and to John Fletcher who advised on locations. They are level, even though they may not look so in the pictures!

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Enjoying Longney’s apples

posted in: apples, Longney, orchard | 0

A couple of pictures from Tobias Reynolds, an award winning Gloucester-based photographer, showing his wife and baby enjoying the apple crop at Longney.  Right-click the images to open full size in a new tab.

For more on Tobias’ work visit his website www.moochuk.com

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Creative Sustainability’s Longney Camp 2020

Here’s an inspiring report on this year’s Longney Orchard camp from the Creative Sustainability organisation. This local Community Interest Company organise (amongst many other things) camping weekends and day camps for disadvantaged young people, including disabled, refugees and asylum seekers.

Most of their camping programme had to be cancelled this year because of the Covid restrictions so the Longney event was particularly important this time.

Some quotes from the report:

‘I haven’t been into the countryside since I came to England, I don’t know where to go, whether I am welcome or safe or whether I have permission, or where I can walk’

‘This is the first sunset I’ve seen since coming to England’

‘..I found myself daydreaming of home before it became unsafe, for the first time. Normally I have nightmares. It’s being here at the orchard. It’s so peaceful – I slept well.’

‘I can see my home all around…(he pointed around the orchard as he spoke) these fruit trees, some crops, the muddy track, homes where my family, friends, aunties and uncles live, someone sleeping under the trees, the smell of cooking, goats here, chickens over there, camels and cows here’

‘It made me remember to live’

You can read the full report below or click here to download it. For more information on Creative Sustainability click here.

Click to access Report-for-Orchard-Trust.pdf

 

Mason Bees return to Longney

posted in: bees, blossom, Longney, orchard | 0

Despite the lockdown this year’s consignment of mason bee pupae has been installed at Longney.  Transporting livestock is, of course, permitted!

13 bee boxes containing a total of around 300 tubes, plus 4 release boxes containing around 200 pupae were placed a few weeks ago (in time for most of the blossom).

No pictures from this season, but here are a few from last year, showing Keith Turner installing the boxes and tubes:

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Longney in lockdown

posted in: blossom, Longney, orchard, wildlife | 0

A few pictures from our Longney orchard, taken by Martin Hayes this week.

Lockdown or not it’s still spring in the orchard, the trees are flowering, the butterflies are out, and the river keeps on flowing:

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Fish House discussions

Jim Chapman, Anne Mackintosh, Jonathan Briggs, Steve Hurrell and Stuart Smith in front of the ivy-covered Fish House at Longney. Picture by Ann Smith

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!

Display boards installed at Longney Orchard

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

Tales from the National Perry Pear Collection

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:

The Earlies:

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

The Lates:

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.

Snippets of Longney News – sheep and loo

posted in: Longney, orchard, volunteers | 0

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 info@glosorchards.org  Thanks!

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