Brimstage Orchard -
Wirral Tree Wardens and partner groups manage this orchard which was originally developed by the late Lord Leverhulme with advice from John Magee and others at Wirral Wildlife, part of the Cheshire Wildlife Trust. This was part of a farm stewardship project to plant and conserve heritage trees to recreate a traditional orchard, grazed by anmals. It was initially planted and managed by Estate staff and contractors, shaped and pruned the trees as they established. After a few years, John and Wirral Wildlife were asked to take the orchard on, but as it was difficult to restore, develop and maintain the orchard alongside their many other projects, they surveyed and charted what varieties the trees were and passed responsibility to Wirral Tree Wardens.
The estate has improved the support for the orchard, with regular mowings and hedge clippings and ensuring that contractors show more care with vehicles on site and cause less damage to trunks from mowers. There is a residue of damage and cankering to some of the trees, but increasingly fewer branches broken under the weight of fruit and less tangled growth.
The wardens use Brimstage as a demonstration orchard to learn and to pass on skills in looking after trees, fruit and wildlife. Wardens have attended courses to gain skills to pass on - Reeseheath, Norton Priory, Cheshire Landscape Trust, Erddig, Henry Doubleday (Garden Organic), and with conservation volunteers. Many wardens and helpers have a wide range of skills both through study, practice, experience; from previous work, life-long interests and from involvement with other conservation and environmental groups. Many people from small community orchards also help from time to time, so it's a good source of inspiration for other local initiatives, which we support in return.
We're keeping an open log of what we're doing, so this is the on-line "Orchard Book" showing something of the different varieties of tree, what we've done in the past with them and what we plan to do next.
You can read a bit more of the history of Brimstage Orchard here.