Following a tip-off from a family member I spent a pleasant lunch-break this week exploring the rather splendid Community Orchard at Brocks Hill Country Park in Leicester.
Community Orchards are a great idea. Many, including the one at Brocks Hill, are located on the fringe of a busy urban area, and are by definition easily accessible to the local community. A community orchard is a benign environment for wildlife, a safe haven for rare local fruit varieties, and most importantly an open space and focal point for the enjoyment of all the community. Every community should have one!
Wandering around the well established trees, which included local Leicestershire cooking-apple varieties Dumelow's Seedling and Annie Elizabeth, I felt the urge to plant a few trees of my own. March is the latest month for planting bare-rooted fruit trees, so I've left things a little late this year. I've ordered four Tremlett's Bitter maidens on M26 rootstock from Deacon's Nursery of the Isle of Wight, and I'm fully expecting them to be in leaf when they arrive following the recent mild weather. Not good, but a yearling should be better able to recover from the shock of moving than an older tree.
I've spent today digging and preparing the planting sites which will extend our small orchard down the slope and into Karen's 'Garden' proper. She's an understanding girl is our Karen. I explained the need to link the two parts of the garden with a 'shared story' of blossom-laden apple trees cascading down the slope. She fell for that one, but I don't think I can push my luck any further now. These trees are likely to be the last I'll plant in this orchard, so I'm going to take my time and enjoy the process, as I'm sure the people who planted the trees at Brocks Hill Community Orchard did.