Longney Orchard News

This picture, taken by Ann, shows Stuart Smith after the planting work

Ann Smith writes:

Today we planted more Gloucestershire plum trees at GOT’s Longney Orchard and replaced one or two apple trees. The soil is good quality and drains well.

Sheep continue to graze the orchards. The flocks of fieldfares and redwings were enjoying the fallen apples.

A tattered red admiral butterfly warmed itself on the barn brickwork in full sun on this mild November day. It was rather tattered, weary from a long year chased by birds or perhaps it was tipsy from the fermented fruit! Will it survive the winter? They are known to enter a dormant state and the barn would certainly provide shelter.

The fieldfare pictures below were taken by John Fletcher, who is a regular birdwatcher at Longney.

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Days Cottage Orchard & Rural Skills Centre Apple Afternoon 16th October

Dave Kaspar identifying apples. Small number of representative samples only please!

This year’s apple celebrations at Days Cottage will be on Sunday 16 October 2022, 1-4pm.

Apple Day Afternoon with Dave Kaspar and Helen Brent-Smith, www.dayscottage.co.uk Upton Lane, Brookthorpe, GL4 0UT.

Mulled apple juice, lovely apple and pear themed cakes, family event, music, heritage fruit to try and buy, rare trees for sale. Buy juice, cider and perry from unsprayed fruit. Now is a chance to chat to Dave and Helen about your orchard/fruit questions. But they do get busy!

Browse their mature and young orchards, bring a picnic. Walk around the Museum Orchard of rare Gloucestershire varieties. Maps available (please return). Signage will be out.

Bring a few representative samples for identification and a small amount (two carrier bags) for juicing at the farm.  Small charge for the latter.  Only a small number of representative samples please!

One way system in operation. Yurt and roundhouse. Forest garden to explore.

They also run a rolling programme of Pruning, Grafting and Bud-Grafting workshops here in  winter and summer. These will be advertised on the Days Cottage and GOT websites.

 

Dave Kaspar identifying apples at his and Helen’s Days Cottage Apple Afternoon in October.

Tim Andrews on BBC Gardeners World!

(Being broadcast mid or late September 2022)

Tim Andrews (Orchard Revival and GOT) filming with his children for BBC Gardeners World.

At the end of August Tim Andrews, Trustee of GOT and cider producer, was filmed for BBC Gardeners World at Pocketts Orchard, Whitminster. He was questioned about his work and passion in restoring traditional orchards near where in lives in the south of the county. Tim exchanges the fruit from these orchards for pruning, replanting and guards to keep these orchards alive.

He helps lead orchard restoration at Pocketts Orchard, Whitminster with the Cotswold Canals Connected project and the Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust, and is about to start a new project with the Ernest Cook Trust and the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) Gloucestershire in orchards at Halmore.

Contact Tim at tim@orchardrevivial.org.uk if you would like to get involved in any of the orchard restoration.

Look out for the interview on Gardeners’ World in mid-September.

Tim did flag up all the relevant organizations, including GOT, but of course only about 5 minutes is used from several hours of filming!

 

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.

A busy winter for Tim

Tim Andrews is always busy.  A dad of two, teacher, GOT committee member and owner of Orchard Revival Cider, it is not hard to fill every spare minute. Below is his summary of orchard activities so far this winter!

Pocketts Orchard, WhitminsterWe have continued to work with Cotswold Canals Connected to look after and restore the traditional orchard at Whitminster next to the canal. A particular highlight was the talk given by Jonathan Briggs, a previous GOT chair, about mistletoe. Nearly all the old trees have their yearly prune and we have cleared quite a bit of excess brambles. We await the results of the DNA testing that took place in the autumn and we hope to do some more grafting at the start of March. There is a lot planned in the summer such as fencing and building a field shelter which should allow us to control the grazing better. Work parties are held on the 2nd Saturday of every month. Please contact Peter Savage peter.savage@gloucestershirewildlifetrust.co.uk if you’d like to join us.

Tree plantingWe managed to squeeze in some more tree planting on our own land this winter. Another 24 takes us to 358 trees and 131 varieties all on full standard root stocks. Being well watered in the first year of planting we have only lost 1 tree! However, there was little growth due to the dry summer we had last year and also because I hadn’t mulched enough. There is never enough time to do it all! We have also led the creation of a new community orchard at the Ionian, a wood fired pizza restaurant on the A38 near Berkeley. We donated the trees, led the planting session and the Ionian is providing the land and paying for the guards. The pizza, cake and coffee provided certainly energised the volunteers.

PruningOnly a couple of orchards beyond Pocketts orchard managed to get pruned this year. These were a lovely old cider orchard in Halmore and a small orchard in North Nibley. I would have liked to have done more, but my teaching job gets in the way!

Bird boxesThe best bit about being a teacher is the children. This year a group of students in my year group were really keen to do something to improve the environment at my school Katharine Lady Berkeley’s School. So we held a raffle and have raised enough money to buy the materials for 4 blue tit nesting boxes, 1 kestrel box, 14 swift boxes and a sound system to attract the swifts. The students’ next job is constructing the boxes and erecting them on the school site. I am also working with a bird expert in our village, Peter Kirmond. We are hoping to turn North Nibley into a swift hub by erecting lots of swift nesting boxes. For each bottle or pint of our Save Our Swift cider we donate 20p towards the cause.

GraftingWe are also running a number of grafting workshops thanks to a Farming in Protected Landscapes grant. Martin Hayes and David Lindgren, our joint GOT chairs, will be on hand to help to. We’ll be at North Nibley on 1st March, Avening on 8th March and Hazleton on the 14th March. Email Martin if you are interested in attending martin@glosorchards.org.

Tim Andrews  https://orchardrevival.co.uk/

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Murmurations at Hartpury Orchard Centre

 

There have been some spectacular Starling murmurations at Hartpury Orchard Centre in the last week or so.

 

These take place over the wetlands adjoining the orchards before the starlings came down to roost in the reeds

 

This is a very satisfying habitat success story – 15 years ago the area was an arable field with no ponds.

 

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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 and Mason Bees at GOT’s AGM 2019

At the Anchor Inn

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.

Juliet’s Fish House presentation

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.

Learning about Mason Bees

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):

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AGM, plus Mason Bees, the Fish House and an orchard walk

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/

Red Mason Bees at Longney Orchards – 2018 results

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.

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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

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