The fruit trees at Puttenham Parish’s Hog’s-Back Orchard were given some tender loving care, with the trees weeded and mulched at this lovely downland meadow. During winter 2022 the Amphibian and Reptile Conservation Trust removed an area of dense scrub to make way for a new pond in a scrubby corner of the meadow. With the pond liner purchased, it was time to dig this small pond only 350m from School Pond where great crested newts breed. A new chalk bund by the pond will also be created and is likely to be popular with chalk downland plants and insects.
Over the last year we made a short video at Enton Allotment, in Witley on a small Orchard planted and managed by John Steere, since the 1980s. https://youtu.be/p62G2_odnOE. Each year John makes cider from the apples, with most of the 15-20 trees, cider varieties. In July we scythed and raked-off tall herbs and grass into a heap to the rear of the John’s Orchard. By removing the vegetation while it’s green, the nutrient levels are reduced and floristic diversity increased. Elsewhere we have been collecting yellow-rattle seed, a hemiparasite of grass species that reduces sward vigor and helps to increase biodiversity 😊
During July the stone-fruit at Eashing Cemetery were weeded, with some of the plums crown-lifted, we found several cherries that had escaped the blackbirds and the trees along the Walnut Avenue had their dead-tips pruned back.
Elsewhere, in Haslemere we pruned and tied-back several espalier apple trees, including a School Master planted adjacent to the wall of St. Bartholomew Church, planted by The Den after school club. We spoke to a neighbour who was happy to have these new fruit trees opposite their property, who also showed us an old apple tree in their garden, remnant of a former orchard.
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Gareth is an ecologist interested in conserving traditional orchards and heritage fruit, for people and wildlife.