We have planted over 250 trees at Colwall Village Garden and in excess of 100 at Lugg's Mill Orchard.
These are a complete mixture of different types of orchard trees to include both fruit and nuts. They include old varieties with a fantastic pedigree, and more modern introductions, often with good disease resistance and superb flavoured fruit.
All are on vigorous rootstocks and will grow to be large, long-lived trees that provide the maximum opportunity for wildlife food and habitat, and will hopefully provide food and drink for us!
Orchard trees in traditional orchards such as these can be expected to live for many decades, even hundred of years for some fruit such as pears. As the trees age, they decay and hollow out providing a special home for rare wildlife including the Noble Chafer beetle.
You'll find extensive new hedge planting at our sites.
The benefits of hedges are numerous. They can be thought of as linear, woodland edges and are a fantastic wildlife food source and habitat for insects, mammals and birds. They provide shelter, shade and help prevent soil erosion.
Our hedges are planted with a wide variety of native species to include Birch, Willow, Hazel, Cherry, Thorn and Field Maple. At various locations we will allow trees to grow on as standards at a level much higher than the rest of the hedge line.
We will let our hedges blossom, berry-up, and burgeon before regenerating them, after a decade or so, with the ancient art of hedgelaying. This is one of the best long-term approaches to sustainable hedge management.
We are fortunate that we have both an existing stream at Lugg's Mill and a newly created pond at Colwall Village Garden.
We excavated our pear-shaped pond using a mechanical digger a few years ago and with minimal human intervention from then onwards it's now brimming with aquatic life.
At Lugg's Mill, the deeply incised stream that powered the old corn mill found on the site throughout the 19th century now provides opportunities for bankside trees like Alder to flourish and we've planted native Daffodils to naturalise in the adjoining grass.
The stream acts as an important wildlife corridor. We've captured images of an Otter on our trail cam.
You may even catch sight of the jewel-like flight of a Kingfisher as it flashes by...
At Colwall Village Garden the 60 or so allotment plots let out by Colwall Allotment Association greatly increase the biodiversity of the site for people and nature alike.
The plotholders grow a wide variety of vegetables, fruit and flowers based on organic principles. Inevitably these are attractive to insects, mammals and birds.
In summer Bumble Bees, Honey Bees from our own hives, and other insects can be found in abundance.
Our local Kestrel can frequently be seen perched on high vantage points surveying the site in its hunt for Mice and Voles. Whilst Buzzards, and even Red Kites, occasionally pay us a visit.
Whilst you may usually be tempted to look upwards when visiting an orchard as you appreciate the trees, don't forget to also look down...
We've working on creating two one acre pilot orchard wildflower meadow plots at our two sites. We have already greatly increased the number of plant species present by a mix of wildflower seed sowing and plug planting.
The two main parts of meadows management are the arrangements for grazing and haycutting.
Our orchard wildflower meadow management regime allows for the meadows to be shut-up to sheep grazing from March, until the hay is cut and removed, from mid-July onwards. Sheep then return to do further grazing.
Our Lugg's Mill Orchard site is a beautiful spot, situated in a rural location, with fine views towards Colwall St. James C of E Church, and the ancient hill fort of British Camp high on the Malvern Hills.
The site is the home to a variety of mature trees with pollarded Oak and Ash, and some very handsome veteran Field Maples.
We have to manage the trees carefully for people and for wildlife and occasionally employ the services of a local tree surgeon to inspect the trees and undertake tree safety work to make sure that they don't become a hazard.
These are splendid features in the local landscape - it's not only orchard trees that we cherish and value!