Orchard Work, Summer 2021
The immediate work is to clear rides through the orchard for easier access for beekeepers, yoga groups and volunteers. The grass and meadow herbs have been allowed to grow long, flower and set seed, but will be mown in time for late summer pruning. We have lots of twigs, branches and grass cuttings to move and stack.
We also have trees which we have successfully cleft grafted in previous years, where we have to remove the growth from the interstock material, and some of the trees from the original planting which are declining because they are on unsuitable rootstocks, on shallow ground over spoil material from the buildings which were on the site, or had mower damage which had provided lesions for cankering to take hold. Mostly the six trees in the middle of the orchard show a combination of all three defects. We will have to consider how best to replace them. The affected trees are Redsleeves and Greensleeves varieties, which are neither heritage nor local varieties.
during the coronavirus 19 restricitions, we have to be very careful about having well-distanced, smaller working groups. The plans are to make at least one visit per week to:
prepare the orchard for mowing by removing plum suckers, prunings and weed piles
clear round the tree bases for easy access for pruning and fruit harvesting
finish off slip and cleft grafting of rare and heritage pears and plums onto the less succesful trees
top dress, feed and rebalance the soil around the trees, with cardboard coverings to suppress weeds and slow down the absorbtion of seaweed and manure, while keeping flies down.
check all ground nesting birds have moved on before mowing those areas
sow meadow and wood land flower seeds to provided more varied pollinator and wildlife foods
coppice two more hazels each year
summer prune to reduce the extensive and excessive growth of watershoots and potental skyward leaders, reduce crowded and crossing branches and remove any infected limbs.
We have our apple day scheduled for 19th September, 2021 from 10:30 am.
On 16th July, 2017, we measured two magnificent old Ash Trees in and near the orchard. On 24th July, heavy rain added to the age and fragility of the trees, and both lost large and weighty limbs.
In Summer 2018, after the sycamores at the back of the orchard were thinned out, another tall ash lost large limbs while we were working in the orchard.
It is important that if you visit the orchard you don't go on your own and notify Dave first (firstname.lastname@example.org) !
on 7th January, 2017, we learned that Leverhulme Estates, the owners of the land where we manage a demonstration orchard had applied for planning permission which includes the creation of a car park in the orchard. Thankfully several readers of this website drew our attention to the application and we have had assistance from Tree Wardens, supporters, friends and from regional, national and local expert organisations. This helped us to draw up our case for retaining the management of the orchard and improving it further in line with the original intentions. This includes its continuing to be a traditionally managed orchard, largely of heritage varieties of fruit trees with local origins or with strong associations with this area, but also improving public access and its role as an asset to the Brimstage Complex “at the heart of the Wirral.”
We are currently in constructive negotiations with Leverhulme Estates for a formal agreement to do this.
Activity Days at Brimstage:
Dave learns to scythe, ready to clear under the trees at Brimstage, Roger shows off his enjoyment of the high standard of refreshments and service for volunteers and Marg prepares for a high-level magic trick
Pruning and harvesting plums is around early August at Brimstage. These are some pictures from July 2017, as you can see we had a good time. We managed to clear beneath most of the trees and remove any rotten fruit. In 2018, despite the heavy rain and dry spells, most trees look healthy and full of fruit
Justine involved the orchard in a wild-dyeing project: raising funds for Tree Sisters, celebrating Earth Day and adding to the Fashion Revolution! and also making use of the prunings from our apple trees. Her project uses natural materials to re-wild old garments: read more at http://naturalfabricdyeing.com/fashion-revolution-rewild-wirral-pt-1/ and http://naturalfabricdyeing.com/fashion-revolution-re-wild-wirral-pt-2/
In 2018, Brimstage was included in Wirral Festival of Firsts, inspiring images and words on the theme of Green Spaces in Wirral. These were exhibited around Wirral and encourage visitors to look around and appreciate! The picture below was a prize winner, taken by Almudena at a Blossom Day. The images on the right were at an earlier event, which included the rewilding the wardrobe project and the wishing flags project.