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Herefordshire Year in the OrchardOn Saturday 18th February 2011 we gathered a fair crowd of around 50 people for our first event for Herefordshire Year in the Orchard. Some 436 years previously, almost to the day, a massive landslip occured on the nearby Marcle Ridge. 60,000 cubic metres of soil, rock, trees and livestock moved down the steep slope of the ridge, demolishing Kinnaston Chapel, leaving a deep and wide chasm, and creating an unusual lumpy landmass, that was duly named “The Wonder”.

435 years later we named our unique Dessert Pear Ice-wine after this local landmark!

Our EventNorman gives an introduction at the Village Hall

Once everyone was assembled and ready to venture forth on our walk, Norman Stanier introduced everyone to the Once Upon A Tree team, and then to our guest speaker local Geologist, Nic Howes.

Nic gave a short talk and description of the geology of the ridge, and the mechanics of how the slip occurred, including an explanation of the accounts that saw “her low parts [the landslip] mounted to a hill of 12 fathoms” – not what you would expect from a landslide!

Leaving Fortnam's OrchardThe walk, led by Norman, started from Putley Village Hall, walking through local farmland and orchards, passing the parish church, Putley Court, and onto Fortnams Orchard (one of the oldest family fruit farms in the area, and where many of the pears were sourced for “The Wonder”), Then onto the Wonder itself where the party divided, some taking in the walk over “Tumpy ground” "Tumpy Ground"and the base of the landslip, and others around the top of the landslip to see the remains of the chasm created when the land moved.

At hall end farm we saw what was suspected to be some of the quoins – cornerstones – that were taken from the remains of the chapel when the farm was being built. We returned to the hall via fields of sheep and lambs, and over small streams and muddy tracks & past the old mill.

At the hall, several bottles of “The Wonder” were opened and shared, along with pear juice for the younger members of the audience, and Simon Day revealed some of the secrets of its production!

Many of the visitors then retired to Dragon Orchard, where they enjoyed further tastings of cider and perry, and a chance to stock up on a few bottles!

Scrambling down the face of the Wonder

Despite the dim, damp, cloudy conditions, everyone really enjoyed the event, from locals who were surprised to learn so much more about what is on their doorstep, to visitors to the area who enjoyed the wonderful scenery and flavours that were on offer.

We look forward to seeing some of the same faces at our next Herefordshire Year in the Orchard event on the 12th March – “History of Orcharding in Putley” led by Norman Stanier.

For future events, see our events page, or have a look at yearintheorchard.org.

On Saturday 18th February 2011 we gathered a fair crowd of over 50 people for our first event for Herefordshire Year in the OrchardHerefordshire Year in the Orchard. Some 436 years previously, almost to the day, a massive landslip occurred on the nearby Marcle Ridge. 60,000 cubic metres of soil, rock, trees and livestock moved down the steep slope of the ridge, demolishing Kinnaston Chapel, leaving a deep and wide chasm, and creating an unusual lumpy landmass, that was duly named “The Wonder”.

435 years later we named our unique Dessert Pear Ice-wine after this local landmark!

Our Event

Once everyone was assembled and ready to venture forth on our walk, Norman Stanier introduced everyone to the Once Upon A Tree team, and then to our guest speaker local Geologist, Nic Howes.

Nic gave a short talk and description of the geology of the ridge, and the mechanics of how the slip occurred, including an explanation of the accounts that saw “her low parts [the landslip] mounted to a hill of 12 fathoms” – not what you would expect from a landslide!

The walk, led by Norman, started from Putley Village Hall, walking through local farmland and orchards, passing the parish church, Putley Court, and onto Fortnams Orchard (one of the oldest family fruit farms in the area, and where many of the pears were sourced for “The Wonder”), Then onto the Wonder itself, where the party divided taking in the walk over “Tumpy ground” and the base of the landslip, or around the top of the landslip to see the remains of the chasm created when the land moved. At hall end farm we saw what was suspected to be some of the quoins – cornerstones – that were taken from the remains of the chapel when the farm was being built. We returned to the hall via fields of sheep and lambs, and over small streams and muddy tracks & past the old mill.

At the hall, several bottles of “The Wonder” were opened and shared, along with pear juice for the younger members of the audience, and Simon Day revealed some of the secrets of its production!

Many of the visitors then retired to Dragon Orchard, where they enjoyed further tastings of cider an perry, and a chance to stock up on a few bottles!

Despite the dim, damp cloudy weather, everyone really enjoyed the event, locals who were surprised to learn more about what is on their doorstep, and visitors to the area, who enjoyed the wonderful scenery and flavours that were on offer.

We look forward to seeing some of the same faces at our next Herefordshire Year in the Orchard event on the 12th March – “History of Orcharding in Putley” led by Norman Stanier.

For other events, see our events page, or have a look at yearintheorchard.org.

Photography-in-the-orchard

Yesterday we had our Herefordshire Year in the Orchard April event - Photography in the Orchard - led by two multi-award winning photograpers Richard Crompton and Linda Wright.

About 14 people were on the course, all hoping for Richard and Linda to reveal their secrets, and enable us to get closer to their standard.

We were not dissapointed!

Rich led the workshop with some back to basics work on how cameras "see" and how best to overcome your camera's limitations, to achieve the depth of field and exposure you want. He then moved onto composition, demonstrating some of the rules with his own photos. Each session was punctuated with an opportunity to take shots ourselves, including help with portrait work - something I know I stuggle with!

In the afternoon, Linda told us her techniques to capture stunning wildlife shots, and gave us the chance to take photos of a Scops owl and a young Kestrel brought by the International Centre for Birds of Prey based in nearby Newent. We managed to take shots, close up and in flight with our two very obliging and beautiful models!

Our final assignment (after a tasting session!) was to capture the essense of the orchard, using the techniques learned throughout the day.

All in all, everyone really enjoyed the day, and went away enthused and more knowledgable than they arrived.

A big thank you to Richard and Linda for an excellent day!

Click on "Read more" to see some of my photos I took on the day:

Writing poetry in the orchardA delightful day at Dragon Orchard at a poetry workshop held in conjunction with The Ledbury Poetry Festival and part of Herefordshire Year in the Orchard.

The day was run by local sculptor, artist and poet David Walker with the orchard input from Chris Fairs of Bulmers and Norman Stanier.

David Walker displays his Haiga

Some of the contributions:

Machines for pruning
do mothers work
I miss her

An apple a day
twenty tons per acre
eat drink and be merry

Not looking for perfection
mouthfeel
tells it all

Flat hidden buds
you grow from
sustainable joy

Warm the rain
share the colour
of my umbrella

Pruning has now finshed for this year, the heaps of prunings will be gathered and burned.
Winter pruning is essential to let light and air into the orchard canopy.

Winter pruning, carried out when trees are dormant, is one of the most important seasonal orchard jobs. It is essential routine maintenance, necessary for the health and vigour of the trees and also helps maintain overall orchard hygiene.

Trees are basically powered by sunlight and for fruiting trees this is one of the most crucial elements in how they perform. Many pests and diseases flourish in still, damp conditions and so good air flow is vital in providing control systems, especially against scab and mildew. Keeping the canopy open to allow ample light and sufficient air is a key management principle. My father used to sum this up in the maxim that when he had finished pruning a tree he should be able to throw his hat through it.

A second principle is as simple as ABCD. This signifies that you should Attack Broken Crossed and Diseased branches. Broken branches can let in disease and may damage healthy growth. Crossed branches will interfere with light and can cause rubbing and damage bark and anything diseased needs to be removed and burnt. In older orchards dead wood can be left as it can provide excellent habitat for many species and help maintain good biodiversity.

The third basic reason for winter pruning is to ensure the vigour of the tree. If the tree senses it is under threat or attack it will be stimulated or encouraged into a positive reaction. It will be reminded of the basic need to reproduce, encouraged to throw fruit bud and hence more fruit. Its reaction will depend on its root stock, age and condition, but as a general principle winter pruning will encourage or maintain the vigour of the tree.

So, if you remember to “Throw your hat”, go for ABCD and balance the vigour of the tree, you are well on your way to understanding the Principles of Pruning or The Art of Farming Light and Air.

Norman.

It's not just the blossom that's providing colour in the orchard at the moment...

Annie's sister Sue had a wander through the orchard yesterday, and with a fine eye for wildflowers counted no less than 34 different species currently in bloom!

This is a really good indicator that the orchard biodiversity is healthy, and makes for an lovely walk around the orchard.

Here is the list of flowers:

DaisyDragon Orchard Wild Flowers
Groundsel
Plantain
Cowslip
Dead Nettle, red, white and yellow
Bluebell
Primrose
Violet, purple and mauve
Cow Parsley
Shepherd's Purse
Celandine
Dandelion
Forget me Not
Vetch
Speedwell
Ground Ivy
Ladies Smock or Cuckoo Flower, mauve and white
Bugle
Meadow Buttercup
Comfrey, white
Wood Anemone
Red Campion
Herb Robert
Privet
Wood Stichwort
Giant Hogweed
Garlic Mustard
Water Horsetail
Lesser Spearwort

Daisy

Groundsel

Plantain

Cowslip

Dead Nettle, red, white and yellow

Bluebell

Primrose

Violet, purple and mauve

Cow Parsley

Shepherd's Purse

Celandine

Dandelion

Forget me Not

Vetch

Speedwell

Ground Ivy

Ladies Smock or Cuckoo Flower, mauve and white

Bugle

Meadow Buttercup

Comfrey, white

Wood Anemone

Red Campion

Herb Robert

Privet

Wood Stichwort

Giant Hogweed

Garlic Mustard

Water Horsetail

Lesser Spearwort

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