Scything courses at Longney, 11th May, 15th June, 25th July, 16th August.

Keep fit. Cut grass in an environmentally friendly way. The Trust will be running two all-day scything courses at Longney in 2024, on Saturday 11th May, Saturday 15th June, Thursday 25th July and Friday 16th August..

The courses will be run by Nicole Clough, a dedicated environmentalist who has spent much of her working life in the wildlife and conservation movements. The course will introduce attendees on how to use and look after an Austrian scythe, is suitable for complete beginners and also for those who may already have some experience but feel that scything could be working better for them.

– Introduction and familiarisation
– Setting up an Austrian scythe
– Movement and technique
– Mowing practice (there is usually an abundance of grass and nettles at Longney!)
– Sharpening in the field
– Maintenance and peening the blade

Space is limited to 6 attendees per course. The cost – partially subsidised by the Trust and thanks to a donation from Martin Hayes – is £50 per person for members (and £65 for non-members – which includes 1 year’s membership).

If you’d like to attend then please get in touch with David Lindgren David.lindgren@glosorchards.org or Martin Hayes Martin.hayes@glosorchards.org

Elderflowers to apples…

Goodbye elderflower.

Hello apple.

The National Trust has planted an orchard on its land at Tinkley Gate, near Nympsfield, in amongst the old elderflower plantation there. Once used to supply Bottle Green with fruit for their elderflower drinks, the trees are now surplus to requirements and are slowly fading away, leaving gaps to be filled with fruit trees.

We started the process last week, planting Gloucestershire varieties of apple…. Arlingham Schoolboys, Gilliflower of Gloucester, Eden, Lemon Roy, Gloucester Royal, Taynton Codlin, Flower of the West, Siddington Russet, Tewkesbury Baron, Wheeler’s Russet, Foxwhelp, Dymock Red, all evocative names that reflect Gloucestershire’s rich past as a fruit-growing county.

As well as supplying the trees and guards, the Trust’s Chair of Trustees, David Lindgren, was on hand to offer advice and guidance to the National Trust’s group of volunteers, who planted and guarded the trees with energy and enthusiasm and no little skill.

It’s another example of the work the Trust does to conserve and celebrate Gloucestershire’s orchards.

 

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Pole-axed at Henley

posted in: Henley, orchard, volunteers | 0
This is the last ever picture of one of two redundant electricity poles still standing on our perry orchard at Henley Bank, kindly left by an electricity supply company for us to deal with. Thanks to the efforts of Rich Priday of F A Priday & Son, agricultural contractors, both poles have now been felled, despite the orchard being somewhat soggy underfoot. Neatly and efficiently done.
We have recycled some sections of the poles; they will become gate posts in another old, traditional orchard near Slad, for which the Trust will be paid the princely sum of £30, more funds to support our efforts to conserve and celebrate orchards in Gloucestershire. Every Little Helps. We’ll also recoup more funds by recycling the copper wire that was attached to the poles.
The little concrete box that used to house some electrical paraphernalia is next in line for demolition… a few blows with a sledgehammer wielded by our Treasurer, Andy Ellis, will see to that. It’s all part of an ongoing process to restore the orchard to its former glory.
Most importantly, before the end of March, four new perry trees will be planted in the orchard, the first perry trees to be planted there for well over a century. The ONLY way to ensure an orchard, any orchard, still exists in the future is to plant new trees. That’s what we’re doing. Please join us; there is a lot to do in a lot of orchards!

Wassail at Days Cottage

Some pictures from Helen and Dave at Days Cottage, taken at their recent Wassail:

– thanking the orchard for the harvest

– welcoming back the sun

– encouraging our good orchard spirits and reminding the trees to wake up after winter

– generally having a good song and dance around the orchard

– Simon our butler/Green Man and masked wassailers enjoying a bonfire afterwards. Continued

Orchard Blossom Day Webinars 14th and 21st February

News about Orchard Blossom Day Webinars run by Orchard Network:

We are contacting you as a manager of a publicly accessible orchard, community orchard, or collection in the hope that you will be thinking about holding an Orchard Blossom event this year. 2024 will mark the third Orchard Blossom Day. Last year saw more than fifty sites hold events in the UK alone, and this year we hope to see over one hundred. The Orchard Network is promoting the Day alongside the National Trust and European Orchard Day throughout the European mainland.

Whether you have plans already or are just interested in knowing more, we would like to invite you to join us online for a short webinar to help inspire your event, share your ideas, pick up tips, and publicise events locally and online.

We will cover the following subjects:

1. What is Orchard Blossom Day?

4. Why celebrate and promote orchard blossom?

5. Where and when to have an event – In an orchard, or as part of other events throughout springtime?

6. What activities could you include? See our Publicity Pack and Activities ideas on www.orchardnetwork.org.uk.

7. Add your event to the map

8. Document the Day – take photos and video, use social media to best effect.

8. Q&A – any questions welcome in the chat function or asked at the end.

Steve Oram and the Orchard Network team.

The webinars will be held on:

Wednesday 14th February 14:00 and Wednesday 21st February 18:00

For joining details contact Orchard Network: https://www.orchardnetwork.org.uk/contact

MistleGO! mistletoe survey – ensure your orchard is recorded!

A brand new mistletoe survey has just been launched by the Tree Council and Oxford University, as an app-based citizen science project to assess the state of mistletoe in Britain. Not just where is it, but what quantities exist. This is new, and exciting, as it will help determine what is happening with mistletoe in Britain here – it seems to be spreading more and faster and we need a new study to assess this, and to create a baseline for assessments in future.

Orchard owners across Gloucestershire – and in adjoining Somerset, Worcestershire, Herefordshire and Gwent – will be familiar with the particular problem locally. Neglected traditional orchards, in the heart of mistletoe’s favoured region, can become overwhelmed by mistletoe – and it can result in the death of tress and accelerate orchard loss. It shouldn’t be like this of course – mistletoe has co-existed in our area and our orchards since at least the early 19th century and probably well before that. But the decline in interest in managing such orchards, coupled with an apparent increase in mistletoe spread, is now a problem.

Which we need to document. Many will recall the National Mistletoe Survey in the 1990s, run jointly by the Botanical Society of Britain and Ireland and Plantlife, the plant conservation charity. Instigated in 1992 and analysed through the 1990s up to 1999. That was led by GOT’s own Jonathan Briggs, who is an advisor on the new project  The 1990s study, also linked to orchards  but worrying that orchard loss might result in mistletoe loss (a concept that now seems naive!) merely assessed where mistletoe was growing. But not the amount growing The new project aims to address that.  There is a presentation all about it here: https://youtu.be/o6IcGgkcTGk

The assessment is not just about orchards of course – and the new project looks well beyond orchards to the wider habitats where mistletoe thrives. Anecdotal evidence, and some detailed regional local studies outside our area since the 1990s study, have suggested mistletoe is doing very well in all its habitats – orchards, parkland, churchyards, hedgerows etc. Increasing spread may be due to climate change, changes in the bird populations spreading the seeds, or something else entirely. For a discussion of all this have a read of Jonathan Briggs’ 2021 review here.

Ollie Spacey and mistletoe

So… do take part if you can. It is important that we document the abundance of mistletoe in our area!  And the new study does allow you to record multiple hosts trees at once, so no need (phew!) to document every individual orchard tree!

The project is called MistleGO! It is app-based (though you can use the website version if you prefer) and is being masterminded by Oliver Spacey, a PhD student at Oxford.  The app requires you to give location (it will do this automatically), to take a picture of the tree (or group of trees) with mistletoe, give a score of how much mistletoe there is, and, optionally, give additional information on host tree species etc. Full details (summarised below) are on the Tree Council website here and download instructions for the app (you need the Arc123 app first, and then run the MistleGO! app within that)  are here.

Or just scan this QR code.

 

How to take part:

Download the Survey123 app from the App Store or Google Play (or, if on a PC, from Microsoft)

Download the MistleGO! survey via the link above or the QR code

Open the app and click “Continue without signing in”

Click on the MistleGO! survey and start collecting your record!

You can also take part and upload pictures you’ve taken via the web version, but make sure to set your location to where you spotted the mistletoe!

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.

 

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