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

Annual General Meeting

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AGM

INVITATION & FORMAL NOTICE

Notice is hereby given of the Annual General Meeting of the Hanwell & Norwood Green Orchard Trail, which will be held on 

Wednesday 3th November, 2021

 72, St Margaret’s Road, Hanwell W7 2HF.

Start-time 19:30

All members of the Hanwell & Norwood Green Orchard Trail are entitled to attend and vote at the AGM. Please email hanwellorchard@gmail.com to confirm your attendance. There is no charge for attendance at the AGM.

By order of the Management Committee
Mirjam van Bentum
(Chair)

Hanwell & Norwood Green Orchard Trail
2021

Each In Their Own Time

Cherries tend to be ripe for picking mid June to mid July. Damsons, plums, gages and Mulberries follow late July to August. Apples, pears and quinces are autumn fruit, generally ripe and ready for picking in September and October. Medlar is generally harvested in late autumn and left to mature indoors.

These dates vary with the variety, local growing conditions and the weather by a small number of weeks. When you are unsure, the simple test is to sample one single fruit:

It should look ripe and ready, with fully developed size and skin colouring.

It should come away easily. Ripe fruit does not need a forceful harvest.

It should smell and taste ripe. If it looks ripe, smells and tastes ripe, then it most likely is ripe.

Take only ripe fruit. Premature harvest is a waste of a good fruit, missing out on the final and full aroma, and is a waste of a good effort that went into growing it.

Take some fruit but leave the rest to others. It’s a community orchard after all. Fruit along the orchard trail is for everyone to pick and enjoy. It is not grown on a first-come first-served basis.

Unfortunately, this article is coming too late. Once again, many trees have been systematically stripped of all fruit, many weeks before it would have ripened. We wish those antisocial individuals strong belly cramps and a sense of their own idiocy to balance for the frustration we feel after having tended the plants for weeks and months.

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.

The Wee People

Many believe that nature is reclaiming the land in these strange times, quiet yet stressful all the same.

Swans were sighted in the canals of Venice, Dolphins near the port of Cagliari, Sardinia. Mountain goats in Llandudno, Wales, Mountain lions in Bolder, Colarado, Wild boars were sighted in Barcelona, Spain, and gangs of macaque monkeys overrun Lopburi, Thailand.

Did you know that the wee people have returned to Hanwell?

You just need to observe the proper distance to other people, look really careful and be quite quiet!

Have you found them yet?

Progress Report

This is an excellent time to rummage around the cupboard, get the old shoebox of photos and contemplate just how far Osterley Lock Orchard has come in just five years, but with the help of many, many, volunteer hours.

Our work hour statistics don’t reach all the way back to the beginnings, but an estimated 500 volunteer hours were spend at Osterley Lock Orchard since the start, not counting planning, preparation or taking of post-activity refreshments.

Everything begun with a site inspection June 13th, 2015. The site was completely overgrown except for a small picnic spot covered in litter, broken picnic table and remains of BBQ fires.

A joint effort of Canal and Rivers Trust volunteers and the park rangers provided the initial clearing October 15th, 2015.

We planted the front orchard January 30th, 2016.

Clearing of the back part begun December 17th, 2016, on a rather damp day, alongside the planting of 1000 native flower bulbs. Site care and maintenance has been an ongoing effort ever since. (Event invitation, more photos)

February 4th, 2017, brought the addition of 17 fruit trees to the rear of the orchard (event invitation, more photos), quickly followed by the installation of bird and bat boxes.

Osterley Lock Orchard now has 29 fruit trees, second only to Blackberry Corner Orchard with a collection of 44 fruit trees across the field. We give it ongoing care and maintenance with many Tuesday evenings and quite a few Saturday activities to help establish and maintain a clean, healthy and bio-diverse habitat and orchard.

Many small events followed, trying to keep Nettles and Burdock at bay, look after the fruit trees and keep the paths across the site clear and usable.

The most recent event at this time of writing was the spring clean at March 14th, 2020. A super volunteer turnout, assisted by the park rangers and their big boy toys. We coppiced and cleared to bring more light, airflow and clear lines of sight to improve the orchard site for plants, wildlife and humans alike.

(See the event invitation, report with photos).

Our heartfelt and warm Thank you! to everyone who helped with this project so far. We look forward to continued events in this and other parts of the orchard trail once the current exceptional conditions caused by the Coronavirus pandemic are a thing of the past.

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/.

Have a Fruity Christmas

We wish you all a very happy, healthy, merry and fruity Christmas, whichever you faith!

(And yes, no faith counts as one!)

We are winding down towards Christmas and speeding-up with all those Christmas preparations at the same time, just as much as you are! We’ll go and take a break from Ye Olde Interweb for a few weeks.

Dates to look forward too:

Friday December 20th from 19:30
Members’ Christmas Party – check member and volunteer email for detail!

Wednesday December 25th, all-day event
Christmas. Celebrate as you like, but celebrate.

Saturday January 11th, 2020, from 11:00 o’clock
Get back together for the winter pruning and, undoubtedly, a pint.

More Ways to Come Play With Us

We have been advised that our brand new and shiny Piggeries banner has become a pokestop, a landmark worth visiting by those who play Pokemon Go.

Pokemon Go or not, the new sign is definitely worth a visit and a great excuse for taking a walk!

We installed the new banner last week and think it looks fantastic. Many thanks to our designer in residence, Leo!

Come Play With Us

You thought it’s all over, didn’t you? Far from it!

We’ll be meeting

Today, Saturday December 9th at 11:00 o’clock at the
Piggeries Orchard

We’ll fill some gaps in the hedges at the Piggeries and St Margaret’s Orchard (if the in-fill plants arrive on time). We also have Yellow Rattle seed to sow, willow whips to cut and plant and a number of similar tasks suitable for people of all ages and abilities.

We’ll have all the tools, but please wear sturdy shoes and suitable clothing. A pair of gardening gloves and a pair of secateurs is always useful.

We’ll probably be done and headed to the Fox for refreshments at 13:00, with luck just before the rain arrives.