Winter tasks

Let us start with wishing you a very happy and healthy 2023. Hanwell and Norwood Green Orchard Trail Volunteers will continue with what they’ve done for the last 8 years; maintaining a trail of orchards along the Grand Union Canal to help make Hanwell a great place to walk and enjoy the outdoors.

Mulching

On a sunny and cold day last December, our group of dedicated volunteers came together to help care for some of our orchards along the canal. Armed with wheelbarrows full of woodchip donated to us by Ealing Park Rangers, they set out to mulch around the trees in St. Margaret’s Orchard, Bernd’s Orchard and The Piggeries. The woodchip will help retain moisture during dry periods and suppress weeds, also feeding the trees to create the best possible environment to grow strong and healthy.

Volunteers

Our orchards are a living testament to the impact that a group of dedicated individuals can have on their community. And you can be part of that …

We can always use more help to maintain our orchards and start new environmental projects. So if you want to know more…, just register as a volunteer on this website and receive updates of what we do and how you can help. Our planting day would be a great starting point to get introduced to Orchard life.

Planting Day 14th January 2023

This year, we will be planting some trees in Blackberry Corner, to replace the trees that got damaged during the fire last summer. If the weather holds, we will also do some pruning and other maintenance work. We will fill in some spaces and prune trees on the 11th of February in Osterley Lock Orchard , where, because of clearing work done by the Ealing Rangers, there is additional space for some apples and plums.

Special Thanks

We would like to say a special thank you to someone from Hanwell (sorry we didn’t get your name) who donated a beautiful apple tree (Malus Domestica ‘Pixie’). Currently heeled in, it will be planted on our next planting event on the 14th January.

Dates for the diary

For all events: Starting point is the allotments next to The Piggeries at 10:00 o’clock.

Saturday 14 January 2023: Planting and Pruning Blackberry Corner and meadows

Saturday 11 February 2023: Planting and pruning Osterley Lock and Elthorne Triangles

Saturday 11 March 2023: tasks to be announced

Give your tree a pint of cider.

This year, every garden- or Christmas program seemed to mention ‘wassailing’… Not knowing much about the customs around it, I decided to have a browse. This article is a compilation of some of the information I found. Full articles here: How to wassail correctly. and here: CultureUK_Wassailing

What Is Wassailing?

Wassailing has been associated with both Christmas and New Year’s celebrations. It was an ancient ceremony that involved singing and drinking to the health of trees. It was also a way of passing on good wishes among family and friends.

Wassailing was originally a pagan practice: ensuring the fertility of fruit trees by offering them mulled cider, and hanging pieces of the toast in the branches. The celebrations vary from region to region, but generally involve a wassail King and Queen leading the assembled group of revellers, comprising the farmers, farm workers and general villagers, in a noisy procession from one orchard to the next. In each orchard the wassailers gather round the biggest and best tree, and as a gift to the tree spirits, the Queen places a piece of wassail soaked toast into its branches, accompanied by songs such as;

“Apple tree, apple tree we all come to wassail thee,
Bear this year and next year to bloom and blow,
Hat fulls, cap fulls, three cornered sacks fills…”

The wassailers then move on to the next orchard; singing, shouting, banging pots and pans, and even firing shotguns, generally making as much noise as possible in order to both waken the sleeping tree spirits, and also to frighten off any evil demons that may be lurking in the branches.

‘Wassail’, from Old Norse Ves heill, is a toast: ‘your health’, to which the answer is ‘drinc hael’: ‘I drink to your health.’ A toast is a piece of toasted bread put into a drink as a sop which you could eat but might also act as a filter for the solid matter in the bottom of the cup/glass/goblet. If you toast someone, you raise your cup/glass/goblet with the toast in it to him/her and say ‘Wassail!’

We would like to raise a glass and wish you all a Happy New Year

WASSAIL

and lots of happy hours in the orchards.

Here’s a toast to seeing everyone in person again soon.

Dates for the diary:

Working Saturday January: 15th of January (moved from the 8th)

Working Saturday February: 12th of February

Going Nuts Workshops!

Do you remember the plan for planting lots of new nutty trees in Elthorne Park?

Right behind our Elthorne Triangles orchard, 43 new trees including Hazel, Pecan, Sweet Chestnut, Walnut and Beech further up the slope will make a wonderful display and habitat in years to come.

Originally scheduled for April 4th, the big planting extravaganza was cancelled due to the ongoing pandemic along with everything else.

They are now back!

Trees for Cities organizes socially distanced tree planting workshops at Elthorne Park. These workshops are running for the next 2 weeks and are open for small groups (ideally household units) of up to 5 people to come and plant a tree.

You can register your interest and sign up for helping on their dedicated web site at www.treesforcities.org/elthornepark 

Dangerous Liaisons

It’s the ripening season!

Blackberries are still going strong, plums are juicy and sweet as we speak, apples and pears are ripening with early varieties ready in a week or two. But not just fruit is ripening…

We had a rare opportunity to observe adult Oak Processionary Moth emerging from the nests. While the moth itself is not dangerous to humans, it will of course lay eggs and start the next cycle.

Watch the spectacle if you like, but watch from a safely distant and upwind location. Please take care not to touch affected trees and do not disturb the nests.

The area and the air around the nest continues to be full of the caterpillar hairs. The hairs can trigger a mighty itch or a mild rash lasting days, and can even trigger severe asthma attacks in some individuals.

Orchard Care Update

As you will know or have guessed, we cancelled all group activities at the beginning of lock-down to help keep everybody safe.

Individuals or volunteers sharing a household and small groups, subject to the more recently evolving rules and guidelines, kept up the good work: pruning trees, picking litter, controlling weeds and caring for orchards and meadows in many other ways. Over 100 work hours were volunteered since March 23rd, covering all 11 locations along the orchard trail.

Our huge THANK YOU to everyone who has helped so far.

We are now planning safe activities for the near future, hoping to engage with new volunteers and reconnect with old friends.

Please look out for related news online at this web site, our Facebook or Twitter, or through the volunteer email system.

Bring Me a Little Water

Orchard maintenance has continued thanks to a dedicated team of volunteers and activities performed by individuals or thouse who live together in the same household. Spring meadow cut, general clearance, weeding, weeding and more weeding, mulching and watering was carried out, all in all adding up to more than 60 hours since March 23rd, 2020.

That’s pretty cool!

We continue to monitor the public advise on lock-down rules and will call for more volunteer participation as soon as the law, health & safety and common sense permit.

Here’s how you can help right away:

Water a young and desperate tree next to you.

Make it part of your fitness regime to carry water to a newly planted tree next to you even to one a little further away foir extra fitness.

Ealing Council brought many new trees into the area, but the current situation leaves some trees desperate for water. While most of the HANGOT trees are doing fine, many trees recently planted in public spaces are desperate. Newly planted trees do not yet have the deep and far-reaching root system of a well-established tree and need a little help.

Even a small amount would be better than none in this dry season!

Abundance London calls for an emergency tree adoption scheme, Trees for Cities asks that you become a Tree Watering Champion. There are no prices to win except for a local environment rich in trees with healthy habitats for diverse fauna and flora. What’s not to like?

Orchard In Isolation

With huge regret and for the now well-known reasons, this is to confirm that all volunteer activities and gatherings with Hanwell and Norwood Green Orchard Trail are cancelled until further notice. Maintaining proper hygiene, distancing and other precautions is generally impossible while “out and about,” and we would violate the “no gatherings” rule.

We are happy to help coordinate individuals or people from the same household who wish to perform their daily exercise in orchard maintenance. For example, you could exercise with our popular self-guided walk and get in touch if you discover any issues that might need addressing. You could also seek a more vigorous exercise as we still hope to deal with bramble, nettle and hemlock growth and other essential orchard maintenance tasks over the coming weeks.

Get in touch through our volunteer email system if you are able and interested to help, but remember that you must observe official COVID-19 guidance and rules at all times. Most of all, you must stay safe and healthy!

We also recommend that you check out Ealing’s volunteer coordinating site if you are looking for more opportunities to help locally at https://ealingtogether.org/.

Going Nuts!

Our friends at Trees for Cities will be planting 40 new nut trees in Elthorne Waterside just beyond our existing Elthorne Triangles orchard on Saturday April 4th, 2020.

We think it a wonderful idea although we shared our concern about the abundant population of nettles and hemlock on the planting site. Trees for Cities is busy working out a plan for ongoing maintenance to stay on top of those and give the new Hazels, Pecan, Sweet Chestnut, Walnut and Beeches a chance.

They will have some machinery assistance to dig the holes as the site is notorious for difficult digging. Also, they plan to plant fairly mature trees to boost their survival chances.

But first things first: the planting!

Please join them if you can on Saturday April 4th, 2020. For details please see https://www.treesforcities.org/elthornepark

Free Anger Management

Come and join us next

Saturday March 14th, 2020 at
Osterley Lock Orchard from 11 o’clock

for a thorough spring clean. The park rangers will come help with their big toys: there’ll be chopping, pruning and coppicing. There’ll be chipping to be done and those premium artisan woodchips will want distributing on site.

There’s some general TL&C work for those seeking lighter duties, and we have a supply of bramble and nettle roots to pull for those seeking to release all that stored-up anger.

Come join us! It’ll be fun!

We start at 11 o’clock and hope to be done around 2 in the afternoon, seeking refreshments in the Fox thereafter.

Please be sure to dress appropriately: your second-best pair of trousers and last season’s coat will be good enough. Sturdy shoes are very highly recommended due to the uneven ground. Remember the ground will still be soaked and just a little bit muddy. Also bring some gardening gloves to protect your delicate digits.

We’ll have all the big tools, but a pair of secateurs or a handsaw always come handy.

See you on Saturday March 14th at Osterley Lock!

The First Cut

The first cut is the deepest (baby I know). We hope that it will also be effective. Our heartfelt thanks to everyone who came to help make light work of the Blackberry Corner Orchard winter pruning. We have now also cut the emerging Hemlock to give room for Cowslip, Deadnettle, thistle and plain grass.

Thank you all!