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.

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

First Plum Day report from Hartpury

Jim Chapman writes, about the Plum Day held at Hartpury at the end of August:

“We eventually had about 35 plums in the plum display, with others discarded having gone over – I realise now why nobody does one, would have been far better a week earlier. Next year, if I try again, I will let the plums dictate the date and then announce it on facebook, not try to advertise a date ahead ! However we had visitors from Evesham and Pershore saying that even the Pershore Plum Festival didn’t display many.

60 people turned up, so not bad for a first attempt (if I am honest I think many were attracted by the tap bar!). Visitors particularly enjoyed tasting some Victoria alternatives – Jimmy Moore, Cox’s Emperor (Denbigh), and of course, Bristol. Still waiting to verify the Jacob, when it fruits.”

(and, for all those interested in Gloucestershire’s Plum varieties, why not buy a copy of Charles Martell’s 2018 book about them? The paperback edition of Native Plums of Gloucestershire is available to buy on our Bookshop page here)

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National Perry Pear Centre Events 2023

https://www.hartpuryheritage.org.uk/events/ and https://www.nationalperrypearcentre.org.uk/events/

Sunday 23 April 2023 12 noon-5pm – Blossom day, enjoy a picnic in the orchard

Sunday 7 May 2023 5am Dawn chorus walk led by Mervyn Greening (for details click here)

Sunday 14 May 2023 Rogation service in orchard 6pm

Sunday 21 May 2023 Moth breakfast 9am opening moth traps and identification

Between 3 and 11 June 2023 (dates to be fixed) Moth event in Hartpury churchyard

Bat walk in churchyard (provisional)

Sunday 11 June 2023 Garden Open Prestberries Cottage (Jim’s large garden includes fruit trees)

August – Plum display date to be fixed (provisionally Sunday 27 August 2023)

Saturday 16 September 2023 Perry pear display

October Apple display (provisional)

Sunday 26 November 2023 Christmas market

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’.

 

Rockness Orchard/Stan’s Patch Apple Day, 9th October

Apple Day at our Rockness Orchard  near Nailsworth, will be on Sunday 9th October in the afternoon. There is a wonderful amount of fruit.

The orchard has now been scythed and cleared. Particular summer profusion on the banks of betony, field scabious, St

Johns wort and wild marjoram. We also have newts in our little pond.

 

Great excitement, as where the huge ash was felled, plums have shot up bearing wonderful delicious fruit. What a gift.

If anyone can identify from a photograph, we would be thrilled.

Early fruit (in profusion) has gone to the Long Table in Stroud to be redistributed and shared.

 

More information from Fiona Valentine fionav@phonecoop.coop

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.

Plum Tree Pruning Workshops at Longney Orchard on 9th, 17th and 30th May 2022

Martin Hayes is leading a series of informal pruning workshops at GOT’s lovely Longney Orchard (south of Gloucester by the River Severn).
These are for GOT members only. Cost is £10 per head.

Please book one session (booking essential) through Ann Smith ann@smithcovell.co.uk who can advise on payment methods.

(all fully booked now)

If you pay by PayPal please also email Ann with details of which session you’re booking.

Dates are

  • Monday 9 May 2022 at 12-3.30pm (large trees)
  • Tuesday 17 May 2022 at 9.30-1pm (young trees)
  • Monday 30 May 2022 at 12-3.30pm (young trees)

Once booked, Ann will send you further details including directions. Please note there is no vehicular access to the orchards from the road.

Martin will go through Health and Safety and we would need everyone to sign in with an emergency contact phone number please. Bring own tools, gloves, boots and refreshments.

Martin is very knowledgeable and there’s always something to learn and share. Stone fruit is only pruned between May and September to reduce the chance of silver leaf disease.

 

We look forward to seeing you! If you are not a member and would like to attend, please join GOT at https://glosorchards.org/home/join-us-got-membership/

If you are a community orchard group you get a year’s free membership. Please enquire via Ann.

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