Orchard Tour 26th April 2024

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.lindgren@glosorchards.org or Martin Hayes martin.hayes@glosorchards.org

Spring is upon us and the buds are bursting (Juliet’s Blog, March)

Fruiting buds of the apple variety Golden Spire just starting to burst, at the silver tip stage, 1st March 2024. Start to record flowering when you can see the pink of petals even though they haven’t unfurled yet.

Spring is upon us and the buds are bursting.

First off is the Prunus blossom – plums and the like – coming into bloom in my garden. Down the orchard most buds are still tight but the pear buds are swelling as are a few of the apple varieties.

One of the first apples in my collection to show pink is Golden Spire, about the 1st of April, and in full flower three weeks later. (I bought and planted it as the local variety Tom Matthews before DNA testing showed it to be a widely known kind.) This little tree blooms and fruits its socks off every year – very reliable – but it has never grown much, even though in theory it is on the same rootstock as everything else.

Early plum blossom, 3rd March 2024.

It is said to be important to have varieties in the same pollination group present. Some bloom earlier, some later. Most varieties are not self-fertile so you need two different kinds in blossom at the same time for pollination to occur and fruit to set. This matters if you only have two trees and one is very early – like Golden Spire – and the other is very late – Kernel Underleaf for example.

But I wonder how true this insistence on planting different varieties really is. For big commercial growers with extensive orchards, sure, but most of us probably have trees in domestic settings where the neighbour over the wall will have also have an apple tree or crab within an easy flight for a bumblebee.

I have for several years been making casual notes about timing of flowering, but this year I intend to make a concerted effort so that Gloucestershire Orchard Trust can publish details of the pollination groups of our varieties.

This is an exercise where other people’s observations would be very helpful. When you see your tree coming into bloom make some notes. There are a series of stages – tight bud, pink bud, king bloom, full bloom, petal fall, fruit set, though obviously on a big tree you are likely to have flowers at various stages, so go for the overall effect. We need to compare Gloucestershire fruit with better-known varieties, so records for your Bramley’s Seedling are valuable too.

Local beekeeper looking for orchard trees for a bee hive:

Magdalena writes:
My name is Magdalena and I’m an aspiring beekeeper from Cheltenham looking for a tree to place my first hive box on. I thought about orchards because of the benefit the bees could provide by pollinating fruit trees in the spring, in turn collecting their nectar. I’d like to reach out to the orchard groups and owners to ask if anyone would be interested in having bees around their orchard and thought the best way would be to ask through your Orchard Trust.
The Warre hive box I have is fairly small about 30x30cm plus roof and floor and I have a L-shaped frame which can be attached to a tree with screws – this is the gentlest method of attaching an object to a living tree that I know of since the screws pull the wood fibres apart rather than damage them, I also chose stainless-steel screws for the attachment to avoid introducing rust to the tree. The hive box could be attached to a tree that is near the orchard rather than an orchard tree itself as I understand using the orchard trees directly might not be the most suitable option when collecting the fruit. This way the bees would not be too close to bother anyone in the orchard but close enough to pollinate the trees in the spring.
The Warre hive box itself requires only a couple of visits per year, the bees benefit from the shade and shelter a tree provides and this would be the closest to where they naturally build their combs – in a hollow of a tree. Unfortunately, there are not many old trees with hollows left for bees to make their home there and this method while very natural for the bees, still allows for honey to be collected with little disturbance to the bees.

Magdalena  07871850614    mprokupkova98@gmail.com

Blossom time events late April and early May

Blossom Day at Days Cottage

Sunday April 23rd 1.00 – 4.00 – details coming soon at dayscottage.co.uk

Hartpury Orchard Centre Blossom Day

Sunday 23 April 2023 12 noon-5pm Blossom day, enjoy a picnic in the orchard. Bar will be open.  https://www.hartpuryheritage.org.uk/events/blossom-day-event/

Big Apple Blossom time

Sunday 30 April and Monday 1 May 2023 at Much Marcle. https://www.bigapple.org.uk/blossomtime-putley/

Other Blossom opportunities

GOT’s Longney Orchard by the River Severn is pretty when the plum, pear and apple blossom is out. See access information here:  https://glosorchards.org/home/got-orchards/

Local community orchard groups such as Horfield Organic Community Orchard (Bristol) and Wolds End Orchard (Chipping Campden) often hold a lovely blossom event. Check their websites soon!

The Vale of Evesham has a blossom trail. https://www.visitevesham.co.uk/about-vale/blossom-trail/

Orchard Network Blossom Day Resources

https://www.orchardnetwork.org.uk/orchard-blossom-day

Orchard Blossom Day – a new annual celebration

Our friends at the UK Orchard Network have recently announced that they have a grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund to help launch a new annual celebration – Orchard Blossom Day.

This will be:

An annual celebration of fruit trees, flowers and food. See buzzing pollinators, eat and drink tasty orchard products, and enjoy the fresh spring air

Few British sights are as uplifting or evocative as fruit tree boughs heavy with spring blossom, and nowhere is this more in evidence than in orchards. Partly man-made and partly natural, orchards are a meeting point of both worlds.

The Orchard Network are launching a new annual celebration called Orchard Blossom Day. Sites across the country will host events with activities like tours, produce fairs, picnics and practical crafts.

The ‘day’ is set as the last Friday in April, this year the 29th, but events can be throughout the blossom season. There are events taking place across Europe centred on the same date.

UK Orchard Network are inviting orchard groups and enthusiasts people to arrange orchard blossom events orchards – which can be promoted as part of the new venture

Blossom events will be publicised on social media channels, so do get in touch with Orchard Network and let them know what you’re doing.

@UK_Orch_Network

#OrchardBlossomDay

#OrchardsEverywhere

#BlossomWatch

Instagram: UK_Orchard_Network

More information is available at https://ptes.org/campaigns/traditional-orchard-project/orchard-network/orchard-blossom-day/

The mason bee season opens at Longney!

The mason bees are back at Longney.

Stuart Smith writes that the advice from the BeeGuardian project was to put the red mason bee cocoons in their release boxes as soon as they arrive.
They came on 31st March and were in place the same afternoon!

 

On the right-hand side of the tree guard is a nest tube holder, already stocked with a dozen cardboard nest tubes.