Plum Day and Plum Festival

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

Two new books: on Plums and on the Shadow Orchard…

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

by Charles Martell (2018)
Volume 4 in the Gloucestershire Pomona series
ISBN: 978-0-9927394-4-7  (46pp)

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.

Hardback £28.50

Softback £17.00

The Shadow Orchard

by Jim Chapman (2018)
ISBN: 978-0-9927394-5-4  26 pages

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.

Softback £4.00

To see more about these or any of our other books please visit our Bookshop page.

Just to remind everyone it’s our AGM this Saturday, 14th April.

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/

Stone Fruit Conference – a short report

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.

The day demonstrated how valuable these get-togethers can be in getting participants up-to-date, briefed on the wider picture, meeting and networking and generally enjoying themselves.

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 Plum & Damson Trees for Sale

Sweet Damson, Walcot Nursery

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

 

 

Wick Court Workshops – Reading and Pruning

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:

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Thanks to the Three Counties Traditional Orchard Project for sponsoring these events.

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