The community orchard was planted in January 2001, with trees sponsored by local people. Most of the cultivars or fruit varieties originate from the Midlands and growing these fruit trees helps to conserve our heritage. Over 170 trees have been planted, made up from 21 different varieties of apple, plum, pear, mulberry and hazel. Most of the varieties that have been planted are not available in the shops and are declining due to the loss of orchards within the British countryside.
Visitors are encouraged to pick the fruit when ripe but to always ensure enough is left for other people.
Local wildlife loves the orchard: pollinating insects such as bees and flies benefit from the spring blossom and small mammals and birds such as fieldfare and redwing devour some of the fallen fruit in winter. The orchard and adjacent hedgerow supports song thrushes, blackbirds, greenfinches, goldfinches, bullfinches, robins, wrens and more.
The majority of apple trees in the orchard are pruned annually to promote a good growth structure and allow for better fruit set and easier picking. The upright water shoots are cut every year to encourage the trees to devote energy into producing blossoms and then fruit.
Many trees are also left unpruned: this can provide a host of benefits for wildlife, as the trees support a greater mass of flowers, have more complex branch structures for mosses, lichens and invertebrates to colonise and allow for some fruit to escape being picked, leaving more for animals to eat.
Adjacent to the orchard trees are areas of wildflower meadow. These are full of wildflowers throughout spring and summer. Yellow cowslips in early spring give way to buttercups, yellow rattle, white and red clover, bird's-foot trefoil and knapweed in summer. This supports many species of bee, butterfly and moth, including burnet moths, common blue butterflies and red-tailed bumblebees.
The meadows are cut in late summer, with the hay removed to allow space for the wildflowers to flourish next year.
The orchard is located near the Centre, which means that people who have limited walking ability can easily access it. The paths which meander through the orchard are suitable for wheelchair and pushchair use, with benches located along the way.
Last updated: Thursday, 13 June 2019 11:29 am