Points Mean Prizes!

picnic-kidsWe must have ticked some boxes with the judges and are now pleased and proud to report that London in Bloom awarded the Osterley Lock Orchard with thriving in the It’s your Neighbourhood category. 

Thriving, we are proud to add, is just one tiny little step short of outstanding.

Our thanks to everyone who encouraged or helped with this fabulous project. Why not come and help celebrate at

Saturday October 21
Autumn Picnic and Birthday Party

in Jubilee Meadow by the sheep, from 13:00.

Bring a friend, a spouse, a child or a neighbour. Bring a drink and something to eat for the sharing table if you like, but please be prepared to take leftovers back with you as we hate waste. You’re also welcome to come empty handed, as there’s always plenty and more to go round.

Most importantly, bring yourself. See you there!

Advertisements

Acrobats’ Advice

img_20160710_184605Early apple varieties are now beginning to ripen and the pears aren’t far behind, just looking for a little more time and sunshine.

While trees planted with our orchard trail do not yet bear a lot of fruit this year, more mature trees in the area carry a substantial amount of the delicious and versatile fruit. Good news for foragers on two or more legs!

It is however sad to see that some human foragers apply unnecessary force and rather shortsightedly use destructive methods when picking fruit. Some branches are torn and twisted, broken off and some trees left damaged and vulnerable to infections. Apart from lasting damage to trees, we also witnessed an eager forager falling from a tree. The young man got away without apparent lasting damage, but we were sure this was a close call.

The rule for picking fruit is quite simple: if it doesn’t want to come off very easily with a small twist or light pull, then it does not yet want to come off and is not yet ready for picking. There should never be a need for force, but you might want to bring a pole, a walking stick or a telescopic fruit picker to extend your arm’s reach without dangerous acrobatics.

Please use care and consideration for private land, nature, the law, other foragers and the very tree you are harvesting when foraging so that everyone can enjoy these resources in years to come. Oh, and take good care of yourself 🙂

Vandalism News

summersun-vandalisedThe vandals have been busy doing their mindless destruction once again. This time we mourn the loss of a Summersun Cherry, tree #55 on Elthorne Terrace, and the nearby Orleanne’s Reinette Apple, tree #60.

The Reinette was a poor thing to begin with, but did show good spirits and a strong will to live. The cherry was doing wonderfully well and could have delighted many in years to come, but has now been torn and broken.

We all share a sense of sadness and frustration in the face of these mindless acts.

Splish Splosh

Barley StrawWe are fascinated by the ups and downs of the Piggeries pond. In the beginning, we had much too much water, as reported with the Piggeries Report. Water leaks in the adjacent streets were fixed, reducing the water feed into the pond significantly. The remaining feed was still stronger than anticipated given what little rain we had. Surface water drainage in the local area is subject to ongoing investigation, but in a recent and rather unexpected development, the water flow into the pond stopped all together. Now we didn’t have enough water!

Rainfall earlier this week raised the groundwater levels and water levels in the pond again, quicker than we expected.

We remain fascinated, puzzled and intrigued by the ups and downs of The Piggeries pond. Investigation of various aspects of local surface water drainage continues. However, we are most fascinated and most grateful to see just how many people stop by, inquire or simply enjoy the views of the pond and its tadpoles. Most tadpoles have been rescued and were re-housed locally during the recent water shortage.

We meant to create a natural habitat with seasonally changing water levels. In addition, we seem to have created a focal point for visitors of all ages, two and four-legged ones.

Why not stop by the Piggeries Orchard during one of your canalside walks, and watch nature do its thing in the middle of the metropolis?

 

Spring Picnic

_MG_8109It’s the famous and famously informal

Spring Picnic

Tomorrow, Sunday May 14, 2017, from 12:00

… and usually in mostly fine weather!

Bring a drink and food to the sharing table, bring a picnic blanket, a smile, a child and a friend! We’ll be by the sheep in Jubilee Meadows (map) and look forward to enjoying a relaxed Sunday in the company of friends, right in the heart of the most beautiful Spring meadows.

You can reach us on foot from the entrance at Trumpers Way by the railway line, or across the lock behind the Fox Inn, Green Lane. (Click for location and access details.) Get in touch with us if you need special assistance.

Bring food and drink to the sharing table if you like. Please bring only as much as your own party would consume and be prepared to take leftovers back.

Spring Dates

tttThe events are rolling in for the Spring 2017 season; please mark these dates for fabulous opportunities to be involved. It’s never to late to make new friends, meet the orchards or to take it out on some brambles and nettles!

Sat 8-April 10:30 – 15:30, Piggeries Celebrations

We’ll be pulling more weeds and digging more brambles, apply woodchip for mulching the hedges along the fence and the back wall, and sow the meadow and wetland areas with native grasses and flowers.

We’ll also celebrate the opening of the Piggeries Orchard with a slice of cake and a speech!

Sat 6-May 10:00 – 14:00, Meadows Mulching

Mulching in the beautiful Hanwell Meadows, with an early start and finish on account of the Hanwell Hootie. This is the first event in our new Saturday Orchard Love series, and we need every hand we can get with this one!

Sun 14-May 12:00 onwards, Spring Orchard Picnic

The big event in every local orchardist’s calendar, the popular spring orchard picnic in the heart of the Hanwell Meadows by the sheep! Bring something to eat and drink to the sharing table, bring a smile, a child, a friend and join us for a relaxed social event in the centre of this most beautiful hidden treasure.

1st Saturday in each month, Saturday Orchard Love

Starting 6-May at 10:00, normally at 11:00. Your regular opportunity to apply orchard love in varying locations along the trail. See the right sidebar on our web site for details of every event (at the bottom of the page for mobile phone users), or follow our Twitter.

Every Tuesday evening, Tree Tending Tuesday

Tree Tending Tuesdays are back! A grand reason to finish work and get out into nature, apply some general tender love and care to the orchards, the orchard trail and its surroundings, and (optionally) finish with a refreshment at a local public house.

As always, be sure to check our web site,  Facebook or Twitter for details or last-minute announcements and changes. See you soon!

The Piggeries Report

_mg_9291Today is a good day for a brief update on the Piggeries Orchard. As many of you know, we hit unexpected problems caused by an exceedingly high water table and unexpected water flow through the site, but we are happy to report continued progress and plans for the next steps:

The site has been cleared of brambles, many rocks and heaps of rubbish. The pond has been dug, fencing along the towpath and the path through the site is installed. This is already very popular with walkers and dogs!

Some of the rubble has been used to construct a newt habitat by the pond, and we are waiting to see small amphibians move in. Bird boxes for blue tits and robins have been installed in the trees surrounding the site. A composting area has been constructed (and will disappear from view as the hedges surrounding it grow).

100 metres of edible and prickly hedging plants have been planted along the fence and the back wall, and many already show signs of growth. We recently added a dozen of summer and autumn-fruiting raspberries along the fence by the canal, and a number of gooseberry and black currant bushes for everyone to come along and sample some of that soft fruit deliciousness.

We will seed the meadow and pond borders later in March or April to give a boost to grass and meadow flowers. Many dozens of bulbs of native bluebells and daffodils have been planted around Christmas, and some are beginning to emerge already.

We are short of a fruit tree orchard at this time, however. Thames Water has recently fixed water mains leaks in Studley Grange Road and St Dunstan’s Road, with the almost immediate effect that the water flow through the Piggeries is now back to meet expectations. There is planned water flow due to a slow-releasing surface water storage tank, which we expect to reduce further during the dry months and with continued improvements to surface water drainage from the nearby streets. This will turn the pond into what we originally planned: a seasonal water feature.

For now, we monitor the ground water levels. We missed the 2017 fruit tree planting season on purpose and hope to be able to plant fruit trees in 2018. We are already making designs for plan B to ensure that the Piggeries Orchard will live up to expectations.

Throughout this year, we’ll keep the site pristine, watch the water levels, monitor fauna and flora on site. We will have several activity days to dig out brambles, fight giant hogweed and nettles, and similar activities.

This is your chance to come join the fun. Watch this space for announcements!

(See what I mean? Nothing happens at the Piggeries but here I am, enumerating the improvements already done in an article longer than my arm.)

 

Canalside Housing Project 

dscn2870_kindlephoto-114942900Have you heard of the new canalside housing project in Hanwell yet?

18 new homes are now available at discounted monthly rates of naught and nothing to couples and young families of tits, robins, finches and other small birds. The new homes are located in several trees surrounding the Osterley Lock, Elthorne Waterside Terrace, Elthorne Waterside (Trumpers Way Entrance), St Margarete’s Open Space and The Piggeries orchards.

Another 13 similar flat-pack homes will be installed across the Hanwell Meadows and beyond the Three Bridges monument soon.

Tree #73 has been moved away to a sunnier location, the hedges at St Margarete’s have been mulched, a bucket or two of bramble roots were dug out.  Not bad for a Saturday morning!

The Piggeries Report

_mg_9043Five things we learnt this week:

  • A cherry-red mini digger and men in high-visibility clothing make a pretty contrast to dark soil and mud.
  • The soil in the central part of the Piggeries is full of rubble (well, we knew that, and had planned to establish a wildflower meadow there all along).
  • The seasonal wetland feature is very wet given the recent rainfall, and makes for a lovely pond.
  • The path is being built on solid ground and begins to look very good.
  • The groundwater levels are surprisingly high and even above the towpath level.

Stop by and check it out! Its great to see how things come together and begin to emerge. Path construction and initial landscaping work is set to complete soon, followed by the installation of a low and permanent fence to replace the current temporary wire fencing.

We are now drawing up our plans for the next steps: how to cope with the unexpectedly high groundwater levels, next clearing tasks, first planting dates, identifying and ordering trees. Watch this space! Your opportunity to come help and get your hands dirty might come soon.

Piggeries Progress

img_20161103_111709We are pleased to report continued progress at the Piggeries. Volunteers met with Ealing park rangers for more clearing and preparation work on November 3rd, removing sycamores, willow and hawthorn and building up a dry wood hedge from the cuttings.

The removed trees were self-seeded and too close to each other, bent over in the struggle for light and suffering from squirrel damage. We gained space for fruit trees, more light for the meadow area and the borders to the west, and we gained a rather large dry hedge, instantly popular with the birds.

Robins were keen to explore it immediately. Hedgehogs and small mammals might join them soon, and reptiles will enjoy the growing pile of rubble and bricks. Everything and everyone will enjoy a good amount of rubbish being collected and removed from the site.

We now hope to reach the front of the contractor’s queue soon, so that the path and groundwork can start and be completed before the winter sets in. Watch this space, or better still, go and take a look at the emerging Piggeries Orchard!