Tuesday, 3 May 2011

revealing the hidden orchard

No longer bounded by a leggy privet hedge, the hidden orchard is beginning to be revealed.

Adam chain sawed the shorter, but last and most difficult, section of hedge (photo) and Judith and Jill dragged it away. If your Ladies' Tug of War team is looking for new members, these two have been in training for weeks and are ready!

The revealed area (32m X 53m) sounds generous and promising but is going to present real problems.

The soil is impoverished and is a meagre and fine sand.

The tall line of lime trees dominates the area and takes valauble light and moisture. The line of limes also encroaches 13 metres along the length of the area with nothing able to grow beneath.

The easterly wind travels down the length of the site with the trees acting as a wind tunnel.

Once the fruit trees are completely revealed from the dominating cloak of suckers and scrub,  we plan to manage the area with as light a touch as possible.

The blasting easterly wind will be difficult to tame but we hope to plant a screen of shrubs and climbers to take the edge off its sharpest effects.

The roots around the trees will probably be kept clear to allow moisture and nutrients to reach them easily.

The remainder of the ground (which will quickly become colonised by nettles and brambles if left unattended) will be sown with a flower mixture that will be cut in late summer before apples are harvested. Nicky gave me a lovely packet of seeds bought on her recent visit to Dublin and these included calendula and snapdragons. I can picture a flowering meadow of such insect friendly flowers in years to come.

New varieties of apples will be planted but on dwarfing rootstocks.

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