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.

Apple and pear trees for sale

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

A new gate and a dead hedge at Henley Bank

It may not look much more than a gate, but this gate now allows safe pedestrian access to our perry orchard at Henley Bank Brockworth, Gloucestershire, which in turn enables volunteers to help manage the orchard, so the process of returning the orchard to something approaching its former glory can now begin in earnest.  Many thanks to our treasurer Andy Ellis and his friend Richard for spending a weekend buying the materials and spending the time to get this job done.

Meanwhile, elsewhere at Henley Bank, Andy Ellis is also largely responsible for creating this ‘dead hedge’ and for all the clearing work that created the raw material from which it is made. It shows that we are making progress in restoring the orchard, making it a more welcoming and safer environment in which the local community will soon be able to join us in our volunteering work.

Note the cup of tea, resting atop the red post-banger, above David’s (our Chair of trustees) right shoulder. A hot cup of tea after an hour’s brisk and energetic work in an old traditional orchard is one of life’s pleasures.

 

An RHS Award for Jim!

Many congratulations to Jim Chapman, our (actually the) Perry Pear expert, who has been presented with the RHS 2023 George Lockie Award for his perry pear work.

The award is given by the Royal Horticultural Society in recognition of “significant personal achievement relating to fruit, vegetables or culinary herbs.”

The presentation took place on 16th September at the Hartpury Orchard Centre open afternoon. The award was presented by RHS fruit root and herb committee chairman Tony Girard.

Picture by Martin Hayes.

Show time! August to September 2023

GOT members will be attending and exhibiting fruit, juice and cider and perry at several shows this season.

There’s the Malvern Autumn Show, 22nd to 24th September where Jim Chapman will again be exhibiting his amazing collection of perry pears. Three Counties Showground, Malvern WR13 6NW.

Jim will also be displaying perry pears at Hartpury on the afternoon of Saturday 16th September. 

And also on Friday 13th October at the Hereford Courtyard Theatre, Edgar St., Hereford HR4 9JR.

Additionally, there may be a display of plums at Hartpury on the afternoon of Sunday 27th August, primarily to show Gloucestershire’s plums varieties. If it happens, this will include the Bristol plum; until recently the only known tree had plum pox, but we now have a clean tree from which to propagate.

Not forgetting…the Frampton Country Fair, Sunday 10th September, one of the last truly country fairs.  Tim Andrews, Trustee, will be there with his Orchard Revival cider and perry. For more information visit the website https://framptoncountryfair.co.uk or call 01452 740152 or email info@framptoncountryfair.co.uk

Identification of fruit varieties 2023

The DNA analysis project run via FruitID is now in its 8th year.  This year the scheme offers DNA analysis at £32.50 plus VAT per sample for Apples, Pears, and Cherries.

If you would like to participate, please go to www.fruitID.com/#help where you can find the Announcement and Timetable, a Request Form to ask for sample bags, detailed collection guidance, results from previous years, and an Introduction to DNA Fingerprinting.

Also at the FruitID website Muriel Smith’s National Apple Register for the UK is now available as a digital download.

To find it, go to www.fruitID.com/#help then click on ‘Pomonas’ from the list on the left and look for the 1971 entry. Thanks to the People’s Trust for Endangered Species for funding the digitisation of this great resource.

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

GOT in the news #3: Martin and Tim on Youtube

This is a video filmed in GOT’s orchards at Longney:  This is the summary from the CPRE page:

An interview with Tim Andrews, County Director of CPRE Gloucestershire, and Martin Hayes. Martin is an expert orchardist and key member of the Gloucestershire Orchard Trust. The interview explores why orchards are special to Martin and Gloucestershire, and the work Martin does to reverse their decline. Around 75% of orchards have been lost in Gloucestershire in the last 50 years.

The interview was filmed in Longney, near Gloucester at an orchard owned by the Gloucestershire Orchard Trust. CPRE Gloucestershire is presently helping to restore around 10 acres of orchard at near Slimbridge in Gloucestershire.

Tim Andrews directed, filmed and edited the video – it was his first try at doing this.  And it is rather good, though Tim says ‘improvements are planned for next time’.

 

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