How to grow an orchard

Orchards are a traditional feature of the Gloucestershire landscape and we are planting new trees to grow more orchards for future generations to enjoy

I don’t know about you but I love picking fresh red (or green!) apples straight from the tree and tasting the refreshing crisp fruit or taking it home to bake into a yummy pie! Orchards are a traditional feature of the landscape in Worcestershire, Gloucestershire and Herefordshire and it’s been suggested that there are lots of fruit trees along the Gloucester & Sharpness Canal, and on the lock islands of the River Severn, because the lock keepers would throw their apple cores and fruit stones out of their lock huts!

Brand new orchard

We want to keep this tradition up so we’ve been growing a brand new orchard near Parkend Bridge on the Gloucester & Sharpness Canal. We started with 20 trees last year, 17 heritage apples and three heritage pears, and have just added another 8 heritage apples thanks to a donation from UK Storage Company.

Under the expert guidance of David Kaspar from Days Cottage, who specialises in growing heritage varieties of fruit trees, we started off by digging our holes. Each hole was about the size of an old style dustbin lid and we made the holes deep enough so that the growth point of the tree (where the stem becomes the root) was just covered by soil when we filled the hole back in.

Hen’s Turds and Ben Lans

To finish off, we put the turf on top, grass side down and gently heeled the soil to compact it slightly. We’ve used wire guards to protect the trees from mice, rabbits and deer which should give them the best chance to grow into a superb habitat for wildlife. The trees could be here for 200 years!

Some of the varieties we have planted are known as ‘critical’ which means that they are established at fewer than 10 sites.  This includes varieties with interesting names such as Hen’s Turds and Ben Lans.

One of the volunteers, Jacquie Clements, who came out to help us plant the trees said, “It was quite awe-inspiring to think that the trees we planted might still be there in a century's time or even longer and if those pear trees are there 2313, I like to imagine someone pondering when they were planted and by whom!”

Last date edited: 8 April 2015

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The environment team

The Canal & River Trust has top team of committed experts and enthusiasts, who help to protect our waterway environment and improve it for both people and nature. Follow this blog to find out more about the hugely varied work they carry out.

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