Orchards, Trees & Orchard Produce
Where to get help
The Northern Fruit Group is made up of retired horticulturalists with a wealth of knowledge and experience. They are carrying out surveys in parts of the northern counties such as Whitby, and keep up to date with developments in fruit breeding and growing. Simon Clark of the NFG has created the Apple Key as an aid to identification of varieties. This can be downloaded from a page of the National Orchard Forum web-site.
The Group offers a leaflet "suggested Fruit Cultivars for the North". They hope to restart the Fruit Trees for Schools Initiative. Contact the Northern Fruit Group Secretary, Simon Clark on scclark [at] santiago.u-net.com
The Lancashire Apples Project is grafting historic northern varieties of apple for sale to the public, restoring the former Whittingham Hospital Orchard near Preston, carrying out orchard survey work in the Arnside and Silverdale Area of Outstanting Natural Beauty in the north of the county, and establishing a collection of northern varieties in the walled garden of Leighton Hall within the AONB. For further information about the above activities, contact Phil Rainford, tel: +44(0)1772 712909 or e-mail p.f.rain [at] btinternet.com
The Arnside & Silverdale AONB produced a fascinating and useful booklet in 2007 called 'Bridgets, Keswicks and Reinettes - Orchards of the Arnside & Silverdale AONB' which includes research into the value of orchards and the diversity of fruit varieties within the landscape of the AONB, a look at the unique history of selected orchards, practical advice on growing and maintaining fruit trees, and investigations into outlets for surplus fruit. Copies cost £3 from the Arnside & Silverdale AONB, The Old Station Building, Arnside, Carnforth, Lancashire LA5 0HG, tel: +44(0)1524 761034.
Orchards and Community Orchards to visit
Eccleston Millennium Green Community Orchard, off The Green and Redhouse Lane, Eccleston. The orchard was planted in 1999 on the Milennium Green. Eccleston was once known for its extensive orchards, mostly now lost, and villagers wanted to ensure that orchards continued in the village into the new millennium. There are thirty-five trees, mostly apple, with varieties including Proctor’s Seedling, which is thought to have originated in the parishes between Garstang and Lancaster, and Duke of Devonshire raised at Holker Hall in Lancashire. Some varieties from the northwest such as Keswick Codlin can be found among varieties chosen from across the country. There are also plums, gages and damsons. Creative Minds, a group of local people over the age of 50 who enjoy creative activities was a driving force, and has since been researching the orchards of Eccleston. They found so much information of interest that they put on an exhibition for their first Apple Day in 2002 and went on to publish a book, Eccleston Apple Blossom, in 2004 giving the history of Eccleston’s orchards, and local recipes. The group has benefited from funding from Chorley Borough Council, The Countryside Agency and Lancashire Environment Action Fund. Contact: Joyce Morris, 4 Hawkswood, Eccleston, Chorley PR7 5RW, +44(0)1257 452059, joyce[at]hawkswood24.fsnet.co.uk
Fairfield Millennium Green & Community Orchard, Lancaster (between the southernmost houses of Fairfield and the green spaces of the Fairfield Allotments and the Lancaster Girls' Grammar School's Playing Fields). This 2 acre Millennium Green and Community Orchard was planted on City Council land by local residents on a disused field. Funding was sought from the National Lottery Millennium Greens Scheme by the Fairfield Association and Lancaster Green Spaces and match funding was found by the Association with help from the City Council. The land is on a long lease with a peppercorn rent. A charitable trust was formed in 2000 to administer the Millennium Green, with members from the Fairfield Association, Lancaster Green Spaces, local community and ward councillor. About 20 local varieties of apples plus damsons, pears, cherries and nuts have been planted. A management plan has been created to inform future work. There is full access with footpaths for the disabled, the community is involved in its care with regular volunteer work parties. There are also orchard tours and other events such as the Big Garden Birdwatch. See www.fairfieldassociation.org
Norton apple orchard as illustrated by Creative Minds, a group of people living in Eccleston, Chorley, all over the age of 50, who enjoy creative activities. Membership at present is 16 women. With funding from Chorley Borough Council, The Countryside Agency and Lancashire Environment Action Fund, Creative Minds put together an exhibition for Apple Day in 2002. Creative Minds discovered so much that they produced a book, Eccleston Apple Blossoms. For a copy contact Joyce Morris, Co-ordinator, by e-mail joyce [at] hawkswood24. fsnet. co. uk, or telephone +44(0)1257 452069. The photo comes from the Local Heritage Initiative web-site.
Halliwell Community Food Plot, Allotments off Shepherd Cross Street, Halliwell, Bolton. Small orchard planted in I996 over an area 10m/20m, as part of a community food growing plot among allotments. Limited access on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. Managed by Halliwell Organic Growers, a self-managed community group. The land is owned by Bolton Metropolitan Borough Council, rented by Lancashire Wildlife Trust. The trees planted are: apricot, cherry, peach, damson, plum, pear plus various cooking and eating apples (varieties unknown), gooseberry bushes, and currants. Bounded by nettles, comfrey, brambles and dogwood on two sides, plus a polytunnel and shelter on other sides. Log piles are maintained for wild life as are the banks of nettles, comfrey and brambles, plus two bird boxes have been erected. Wildlife recorded includes hedgehogs, frogs, toads, bees, dragonflies, damsel flies, plus rats. There are three ponds elsewhere on the plot, and the overall plot is bounded by hedgerows of hawthorn, holly, hazel and wild rose. Volunteers share the crop amongst themselves. Open days are held each September for the Food plot as a whole. Contact: R Bircumshaw, 172 Oxford Grove, Bolton BL1 3BH, +44(0)1204 435816.
Grange-over-Sands Community Orchard (left, photo with permission from Mrs Shirley Leaver), Yewbarrow Lodge grounds, Main Street, Grange-over-Sands. A 2 acre orchard begun in 1997 by the South Lancashire District Counciland the Town Clerk with help from local school children. Around 40 trees have been planted since 1997 including local varieties Keswick Codlin, Nelson’s Favourite, Ladies Finger of Lancaster, Duke of Devonshire and John Huggett from Grange-over-Sands itself, and Lyth Valley Damsons. Some trees were grafted by Hilary Wilson of the Northern Fruit Group. Many were sponsored by local people and organisations. Two are also two mature trees, a lime and a beech, on the edge of the orchard. Since 2003 the Civic Society has established a Management Committee for the orchard which has encourage the planting of local varieties. The District Council continues to cut the grass in September, allowing it to grow through the summer. A hedge is being planted and buddleia planted along the edges to encourage butterflies. An existing pond has been cleaned and replanted. A public footpath runs through the orchard and there is full public access. The fruit is mostly picked by passers-by and some is given to residents of Yewbarrow Lodge, the residential home for the elderly next to the orchard, as well as to volunteers. Apple Day has been celebrated since 2003, and there have bee Apple Picking Days and Grafting demonstrations. Contact: Mrs Shirley Leaver, 1 Seawood Place, Grange-over-Sands LA11 7AR, +44(0)15395 34807, salgal[at]ktdinternet.com
Philips Park Community Orchard, Philips Park, Clayton, Manchester (next to allotments opposite Fairclough Street entrance). An orchard in one of Manchester’s oldest parks, planted in 2000 after inspiration Bill Booth, a local community leader and long-standing Philips Park allotment holder. A community design workshop lead to finalised plans for the orchard. It is bounded by allotments on three sides, and Philips Park on the fourth. It is a mixed orchard with apple, pear, cherry, damson, plum and quince trees, mainly on semi-dwarfing rootstocks. There is a row of cherries and two lines of espaliered apples and pears. Soft fruit has been planted along the boundary fences and near the seating area. A sheltered seating area is used for outdoor learning. A Friends group formed in 2003 and Apple Day was celebrated in 2006. Contact: Steve Downey, Manager, Philips Park Wardens Service, Philips Park Visitor Centre, Stuart Street, Manchester M11 4DQ, +44(0)161 231 3090, s.downey[at]manchester.gov.uk or see www.philipspark.org.uk
Westoughton Community Orchard, Westoughton, Bolton was established by Westoughton Food Co-op in 2003 with over 30 apple and pear trees at Hall Lee Bank Park in the woodland off Park Road.
Where to buy fruit trees
Eden Point Nurseries, 20 Giller Drive, Preston PR1 9LT, 07861183080. Apple trees including cider varieties. Mail order, visits by appointment only. See www.edenpointnurseries.co.uk
R.V. Roger Ltd, The Nurseries, Pickering, YO18 7HG. They stock around 80 varieties of apples plus pears, plums, cherries and nuts, and can advise on planting and growing. Call +44(0)1751 472226 or visit www.rvroger.co.uk