A few good apples
80% of small traditional orchards, havens for wildlife, have been lost since 1900 in England and Wales.
On a glorious day in March, the Countryside Team volunteers planted 21 new apple trees in Lambert’s Mead and Lambert’s Orchard in Horton Country Park (Lambert’s Mead was a cricket pitch in the hospital days, now it’s an important extension to Lambert’s Orchard).
In 2018, Epsom & Ewell Borough Council worked with the Orchard Project, as part of a Heritage Lottery Fund bid to encourage landowners to enhance their orchards. They led workshops for our volunteers to give us guidance on managing our veteran fruit trees, helped us organise a BioBlitz (an event that focuses on finding and identifying as many wildlife species as possible in a specific area over a short period of time) and helped us run an Apple Day.
One workshop involved grafting new trees using vintage varieties such as Carswell Orange, Merton Joy and Non-Pariel. We also took cuttings from our veteran fruit trees in Lambert’s Orchard, including Dummellor’s Seedling and Duchess’s Favourite, and grafted them on suitable root stock. It is these grafted trees, now four years old, that were planted last month.
Last year, we planted 24 trees in Lambert’s Mead, two thirds of which were paid for by the Friends of Horton Country Park, to celebrate their 20th anniversary. These were a combination of apples, pears, quince and crab apples to enhance the biodiversity of the orchard and the wildlife that thrives there.
Traditional orchards can support wildlife, such as flies, bees, bats and birds. The knotted trunks and branches of trees provide a home for patrolling bats, while flowers are a food source for pollinating insects.
It is good to see these trees blossom and thrive!