With spring now in full flow and the park looking exceptionally beautiful, I thought Friends
might be interested in hearing about the orchard.
Emersons Green Community Orchard is situated in the South West corner of the park, over the footbridge and now ringed by ‘dragon’s teeth’ posts. It was started about four years ago when a few of us got together and, with the council’s approval, began the long process of developing an orchard. Our idea was to do the orchard on ‘Forest Garden’ principles. That means that it should not just be a set of fruit trees, but become a whole ecosystem in itself, supporting fruit at ground level, at shrub level and at tree level. The intention is that the area should have a semi-wild feel, not a manicured garden, so as to give space to wildlife and to allow us to sense the habitat’s unique properties.
You will find in the garden at this point, six different varieties of apple tree, two plum and a damson.It will take at least five more years for this top fruit to reach maturity.
Underneath and between them you may recognise, raspberry, jostaberry (cross between blackcurrant and gooseberry), blackcurrant, redcurrant, white currant, gooseberry, kiwi, red grape, and, as of last Saturday, two thornless domestic blackberries.
On the ground layer we have Rubus Tricolour – a ground cover raspberry, Some conventional strawberries,(just coming), some woodland strawberries and some rhubarb (not yet fully established)
To support the kiwi and grape and provide nitrogen to the soil, you will find green alder.
And to add interest we also have two autumn olive bushes, a strawberry tree, a selection of herbs like St John’s Wort.
The idea is that park users can help themselves to fruit providing
- it is ripe
- no one takes more than a third of what is one any one bush
That way we all get to share. I will try to alert people to what is ripe as it comes into season.
The hope is that as the garden matures we may do apple pressing and other celebrations during the year.
I hope you like the idea of the garden. A team of us keeps it going with a short session on
Saturdays (10am to 12 noon) during the season.
The dates for 2015 are:
We would love you to join us. The more the merrier! – and the more we can get done.
We can also accept donations to a fund for plants and materials (which will be accounted for as a ring fenced fund by the charity Project Agora through a local steering group). Let me know if that is of interest.