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Diary Article 2

Apart from regularly spending a few minutes working on the willow Archway, the small orchard, containing a dozen or so fruit trees, is another part of the site that has caught my attention and started to fire up my imagination. I think some of the trees were deliberately bought and some were donated. They include the usual sort of things like an apple and a cherry, but also, a nice Crab Apple and as yet small Meddlar, both of which are in fruit at the moment. The little orchard has had a traditional fence erected down the path on the one side of it that leads to the Willow Archway, but has a rather wild hedge at the back of it. Unfortunately the weeds from the hedge have come through and are encroaching into the orchard, which along with the long grass between the trees, gives it a little bit of an unkempt look. One week I removed a pile of old wire and abandoned tubs and one of the lads cut the long grass between the trees to make a path round them. The large patch of Willow Bay Herb may be good for the Butterflies and other insects, but that doesn’t really help the appearance either.

For some years now I have rather fancied having my own small orchard, so I am hoping that I can become involved with the development of this one instead. With this in mind, a few weeks ago, I asked Dave if I could plant a few little Hazel trees in it. Unfortunately for me the best planting area proved to be in the biggest patch of the Willow Bay, so after a lot of hard digging I managed to clear enough space to put in 3 very small Hazels at one side of the orchard. The planting holes were well weeded and had some pelleted fertilizer added to give the trees a fighting chance against their surroundings. Hopefully, in a few years to come, the Hazels will provide a reasonable quantity of nuts for the youngsters to pick. If the trees are allowed to get some strength in them for a couple of years and then “Coppiced,” they will produce numerous shoots and perhaps another source of material for weaving as an alternative to the Willow from the regular pruning of the Archway.

Apart from the orchard, further down the site and round the path, there are some rather impressive soft fruit beds that have everything from Black Currants and Raspberries to Rhubarb. Everything that is apart from a Goji Berry. Naturally I had more than one surplus plant on my allotments that were grown from cuttings taken from the large bush at home, so I offered the manager one with which he was delighted. It was really too early in the season to move it as it was still in full leaf, so I cut it back hard to give it a chance before handing it over in a bucket of loose, wet, soil. When I went the next week I was surprised to see it had been planted and the few remaining leaves were standing up nicely. It had been planted next to a tall post at the end of a row of Black Berries. It will be a simple matter then to tie the Goji to the post for support and insert another post the other side of the plant for extra support as it grows and bushes out.

The manager was also fascinated by my tales about our large Fig tree at home, so I offered him a small plant grown from a rooted cutting. My idea was to plant it in the orchard, but Dave said that he would make a bit of a planting project for the youngsters out of it because of its special planting requirements. Low and behold, such was their enthusiasm, the next week when I went, they had already planted the Fig at the back of the café on a South facing wall. We don’t really know how well it will grow as the site is a little higher up than some of the surrounding land and gets harder frosts as well as more snow. I pointed out that the Goji Berry should be alright though because one of the places it comes from is the mountains of Tibet!



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