Early in winter we planted-up thirteen crab-apples in the potting-on beds at Swan Barn. Whilst Gareth weeded the beds and the two newly planted Jubilee apple trees, the National Trust team (Dave, Dee and Spike) had a very special delivery for the Orchard, with a bespoke Owl House installed on the northern field boundary of the Orchard-space. Watch-out field voles!
Later that day we installed water-storage bags for the apple trees at Parson’s Green, filling each bag with at least 20 litres of water. Weeding and watering trees in the 1st five-years of establishment is essential for their survival.
Due to a cool, late flowering spring, our Blossom Watch was pushed into May, on a wet Coronation Day. As well as doing the Citizen Science, it’s a good time to note extra issues within the orchard. While Claire noted the state of the Blossom, with help of a Southdown flock, Gareth prepared a grass snake heap egg-laying site.
Grass snake heaps are layered-up like a lasagne, with sticks on the bottom, followed by cow manure, then grass, with the layers repeated and finished-off with a final covering of grass. They are then checked in Autumn for signs of egg-laying.
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Gareth is an ecologist interested in conserving traditional orchards and heritage fruit, for people and wildlife.