Congratulations to the National Trust for Scotland Priorwood for registering the first blossom event to be registered for Scotland on the UK map! More…
For anyone interested in participating in Orchard Blossom Day (and Orchard Blossom Season activities), and if you missed the first one, there’s a second chance to attend a free webinar on Wednesday, 21 February 2023 at 18:00 by PTES and Orchard Network. More…
UK Orchard Blossom Time in Scotland
We are excited to bring you news of the UK Orchard Blossom Day, around the last week in April, or whenever your blossom looks at its best!
This will be the third year of the celebration, but this year will be the first time it will have been actively promoted in Scotland.
We’re joining with the organisers (People’s Trust for Endangered Species (PTES) and the UK Orchard Network) to bring you news, ideas, and inspiration to get you involved, whether you have trees in your gardens, are a community orchard group, local food group, or commercial producer.
Get involved in the new annual celebration of fruit trees, flowers and food!
Celebrate orchards as magical places for people and nature, but also a source of healthy local food.
More on our Blossom Day 2024 page.
Our friends at Fruit ID are running their DNA scheme again this year:
Identification of apple, pear and cherry varieties using DNA
Following the success of the 2016-20 DNA Schemes with over 5,100 samples analysed, our DNA Scheme is again being offered for 2021. East Malling Research have confirmed a price to us of £27.60 plus VAT for Apple, Pear and Cherry samples.
If you would like to participate, please take a look at the Announcement and Timetable on https://www.fruitid.com/#help where there is a Request Form to get sample bags. There is sample handling guidance, the Scheme results from previous years, and an Introduction to DNA Fingerprinting.
Please feel free also to circulate this to anyone you think might be interested and let me know if you have any questions.
We’re supporting the Scottish Scything Festival at Blackhaugh Community Farm near Auchterarder, Perthshire. This is the inaugural Scottish event (as far as we are aware).
Why? Scythes are a great way to manage the orchard floor. They are much less damaging to invertebrate life than a rotary mower. And faster (and quieter) than a strimmer. Plus they keep you fit and healthy!
BBC piece on the Orchard Inventory here in bitsize chunks
Clips from Good Morning Scotland on 7th October 2018
Crispin (Inventory Coordinator) on some of the historical background to orchards in Scotland, how the Orchard Inventory was carried out, and hopes of an orchard revival.
Sue Pomeroy (Local Facilitator for the Inventory in the West Highlands) on remote orchards surveyed and crofting interest in fruit trees
Kate Holl (SNH Project Officer for Inventory) on biodiversity and benefits of orchards
Ron Gillies ( Cairn o’Mhor Winery) on making King Jimmy cider
Kate on different fruit and nuts grown in orchards
Ron with a guileful plug for his cider – how far apart to plant your trees
All clips copyright BBC 2018
The National Orchard Inventory for Scotland featured on Good Morning Scotland
Bill Whiteford interviewed Crispin (Inventory Coordinator) and then Bill along with Isabel Fraser had a discussion with Kate Holl (SNH, funder), Sue Pomeroy (Local Facilitator for the Inventory in the West Highlands), and Ron Gillies (Cairn o’Mhor Winery).
Here’s the whole 29 minute piece broadcast on 7th October 2018. More recent posts have selected excerpts.
Or download it here
Orchard Inventory on BBC Radio Scotland 7oct18
Audio recording copyright BBC 2018
Great response from Orchard Inventory feature on BBC website
People have been contacting us from people across Scotland to the feature on the Beeb website
Some wanted to ensure their orchard has been included, and others to volunteer for survey work. A few have been seeking advice about varieties and planning new orchards. We’re working through those now so we get back to everyone.
We worked with a BBC journalist to develop the piece, and to try and include as much of interest as possible from what the Inventory found . Of course the full story is contained in the Area Reports which are available to download. However the piece gives a good overview and its gets to a very wide audience. That has to be good for raising awareness about orchards in Scotland.
How can traditional management of the orchard floor and other hay meadows improve biodiversity?
ORE Director Crispin Hayes travelled to Romania on an Erasmus + Study Tour looking at sustainable village agriculture. In this piece he relates his experiences.
Haymaking is widespread in Alba County both in the hill & mountain villages and throughout the flat low lands of Transylvania. Orchards are also widespread though tended to be concentrated around villages. In the south and centre of Alba County, plums dominated the orchards. The plums are made into Rakia, the local spirit drunk anytime from breakfast to bedtime. This spirit is home produced and is a cultural indicator of the characters involved. When aged for 20 yrs in a mulberry cask or blended with homemade walnut cordial, it is a very smooth and enjoyable drink.
In the north of Alba County for example around Rimetea, apple orchards were very much in evidence. The wider area also grows a lot of grapes which are made into wine which has a good reputation.
Lots of invertebrate life
The biodiverse content of these species rich grasslands is discussed elsewhere, the focus here is management which provides the conditions for this species richness, and for the abundance of invertebrate life. These orchard pastures and hay meadows appeared to be almost entirely managed by traditional methods; that is to say cut by scythe and the hay stacked on a traditional triangular frame or steddle, often in the field.
Use of the scythe
We engaged in mowing by scythe in Girbovita village near Aiud. The location was a hay meadow above the village which we arrived at after walking through an orchard. The sward was herb dominated rather than grass dominated. We joined the farmer with some extra scythes and were given a brief demonstration before having a go ourselves. It took some practice but it was possible to quickly cut a swath of grass.
In the experienced hands of the farmer, a clean and consistent cut about 40mm about the ground was made. The width of cut was more than 1.5m and the cutting action creates a swath at the left-hand edge of cut. Progress is at an incremental walk, but because the cut is wide the ground is covered at a good rate.
On another occasion, we went to rake a small very steep meadow surrounded by woodland. It was planted with young walnut trees as a new orchard. This location really emphasised the versatility of the scythe. The steepness and the young walnuts would have made it impossible to use even pedestrian machinery. However, with hand tools it was fairly quick work.
What was surprising was not that scythe cut hay was normal in the hill villages, but that scythes were widely used in the flat wide plains as well. In these lowlands, there is ‘pre-enclosure’ landscape of strips showing a complex landownership. Though it was clear that some tractors were used to mow and bale hay, the majority of hay even in this mechanisable landscape, was still cut and handled by hand. This perhaps indicates the depth of cultural significance that the scythe holds for rural Romanians.
Reflection on motor mowers vs the scythe
The Romanian experience has led to a great deal of reflection on how hay, orchards, amenity grassland, ‘rough grass’ and agricultural set aside is managed in Britain. The tendency to use rotary mowers and in the agricultural setting mower conditioners, must have an impact on invertebrate life. In Romania, we were able to experience what is possible with grassland management when it is more sympathetic to biodiversity. It has been enlightening.