Work on the Community Orchard began a couple of years ago. We wanted to plant trees that would not only fare well on our clay/chalk soil but would also ensure the protection of older fruit varieties. After much research, we chose local heritage trees, including those originally grown in Whyteleafe, Godstone and Addlestone. These varieties are no longer in general circulation so we set about having them grafted for us by specialists at Keepers Nursery and the National Fruit Collection at Brogdale. They arrived as one year old maidens.
In November 2020, we planted our first two trees – Duchess’s Favourite and the Claygate Pearmain – together with a Bramley, two crab apples and a pear donated by generous villagers as part of The Glebe’s tree planting initiative. We also added a Family Tree, a three-way graft of James Grieve, Katy and Cox eating apples.
By May 2021, we had some lovely blossom to enjoy.
We mowed a path in the grass and left it to grow, excited to see which wild flowers would naturally emerge over the summer months. We were delighted to discover an explosion of native Oxeye Daisy, Self-heal, White Clover, Hawksbit, Yarrow and Knapweed, as well as many different species of grass, pollinating insects and butterflies – a much needed haven for wildlife at such a crucial time for our natural world. The seed is harvested by September and the grass mown short soon after, for the winter.
Over recent months, we have installed a bench and information board brimming with facts about traditional orchards, wildlife and history. This autumn we will complete the work by planting our remaining heritage fruit trees, three apples and a damson, supplied by Brogdale.
In the meantime, we would like to thank everyone who has helped so generously with their skills and time in creating this lovely community space. To single out a few for particular mention, Chris Higson and The Glebe for their support, Dave Woodall, Jason Cornish for artwork and design, Kevin Martin (meprint production services) for printing and Andy Green for building the information board, Rob Bradstock for donating the sawn cedar timber for the bench and Jana Henning for printing the wild flower identification pegs. There are several more who have dug and mowed, researched and written and a special thanks must go to Sally Jones for her hard work in bringing the project together and her enthusiasm and knowledge about all things wild.
We hope you use and enjoy this tranquil space and, in the years to come, pick and savour the fruit.
Annabel Collyer and Ann Richardson
The Woldingham Community Orchard