Wait…. Is it Autumn already?

We can’t believe it’s the end of Summer already. Sorry for keeping a little quiet over the last months. We have been so busy,…. just couldn’t find time to post about the jobs we did.

Greening together The Ealing rangers have been invaluable in supporting us with advise on creating and maintaining our orchards. It is great to see that this is recognised by the Council. A big thank you to ‘Around Ealing’ for using one of our flagship orchards ‘The Piggeries’ in a lovely article on greening together. The video, accompanying the article, can be watched here !

Pictures below show 1) Aerial view Piggeries site 1951 2) Piggeries map 1960 with current situation combined 3) Winter 2016/2017 4) Summer 2022

Summer Cut Over the summer months, we give all our orchards a summer cut. Most years we had to do quite a bit of weeding before it was time to cut all the grass, but this years drought stopped the weeds from getting in the way too much. So during our work-evenings we cleared around trees, watered our younger trees and did some litter picking when necessary. In August, when most wildflowers had set seed -or when the fire-risk became too high-, we cut the whole meadow in one go and removed the cuttings. This practice, which is common in wildflower meadow management, enhances bio diversity by creating a habitat less favourable for grasses, brambles and nettles. To connect more with other local nature conservation groups, we helped cutting Perivale Wood wildflower meadow and the cuttings were feed for the cows on Horsenden Farm.

Dates for the diary

Saturday work morning: 10th September 10:30 at the allotment next to The Piggeries. We’ll split the group, depending on numbers. If you want to get familiar with our most Western part of the trail (30 min walk from the allotment) this is your chance.

Monday work evening:12th September 6:30 at the allotment next to The Piggeries. -Tasks to be announced-.

Upcoming Saturday work mornings 8th October and 12th November

Not all pictures were made by Hangot.

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.

The Winner Takes it All

dsc00284_1We received so many wonderful photos taken at the 2019 tree planting activity! Thank you, James!

Many immediately asked for a caption competition. Who am I to deny such a desire?

I chose a subset of the photos submitted to make this manageable, and captioned each with a boring numeric caption. (If you can’t see the captions, use your mouse to hover over the image.)

Leave a comment with your chosen caption in reference to that number, and you might be on to a winner!

Just imagine the honour you’ll receive, the pride you’ll feel, and the thanks we’ll give you when you buy us a round! We look forward to it, captions, round of drinks and all.

Scything Course

IMG_20180915_161821For those who took part, as a memory. For those who didn’t, as a reminder on what they missed: here are some photos and a timelapse video from last week’s scything course.

10 participants enjoyed relaxed expert tuition under scything instructor Clive Leeke. Once background knowledge was established and everyone was fitted with tools, we moved on to  cut approximately half an acre of mixed-vegetation meadow in St Margaret’s Open Space.

Even Ealing Council officials were impressed!

Our thanks to the Fox for use of their premises for the opening and closing parts, and our thanks to Ealing Council and contractors for their support in this effort.


The Race Is On!

p20160522132521You’ll have noticed the only red fruit and green foliage today is within our logo, but you have also seen Daffodils and Crocuses emerge and announce the next season.

Surely it is still too cold and early in the year for apples, pears or quinces to blossom, but with a bit of sunshine and a sheltered location the apricots or even cherries might not be all that far away from coming into bloom.

May I suggest that you take a camera or smartphone with you as you walk the real or hypothetical dog along the orchard trail? We’d love to see your snaps of signs of spring. Any sign, but those of budding buds and blossoming flowers would be of particular interest.

The race is on!

apricotUpdate 15-March: the race is over. Thanks, Tim, for submitting the Apricot at Osterley Lock:


IMG_20180113_122914775.jpgWe thank everyone for helping with a successful 2018 winter pruning – in record speed as evident from this little video: https://photos.app.goo.gl/1cBuxzffoFuIr9xx1

Here are some pictures from the 2018 orchard activity kick-off.

Our next date is Tree Planting Day, February 10th. If you can’t wait until then and still promise to come help us on the 10th then you might be interested in Cultivate London’s Hanwell Community Orchard Trail. Click here for their flyer (pdf).



Mangement Speak

dscn2923_kindlephoto-227171838Let’s talk about management strategies today!

I am of course referring to urban scrubland management in general and our orchard trail in the Grand Union Canal corridor in particular. No hollow phrases or Powerpoint slides in this management speak!

Research of biodiversity in urban environments confirms that biodiversity depends on habitat diversity.

By cutting back scrubland in selected areas in the Grand Union Canal corridor while leaving large areas of scrubland undisturbed, we add pockets of habitats through the introduction of open areas with small meadows and new trees, encouraging fauna and flora to complement the life hidden among the mostly thorny and stingy world of London’s wild west.

We have no biodiversity statistics for the area but personal observation shows that the area is rich in small mammals, amphibians, songbirds, bats and larger birds such as the heron, cormorant or the occasional green woodpecker and plenty of waterfowl. Oh, and the insects regularly introduce themselves in abundance, including the occasional nest of wasps or wild bees.

Perhaps you have photos documenting biodiversity in the area of the orchard trail?

We’d welcome contributions! Please submit photos to hanwell orchard (in one word) at gmail dot com including your full name, a short description of the variety or species shown, and where and when the picture was taken, and we’ll create a public photo gallery documenting biodiversity along the Grand Union Canal corridor between Osterley Lock and Bixley Triangle.

Can’t wait!


Fruity Fruity

_mg_9276Never mind the damp conditions surrounding The Piggeries orchard, we are delighted to report a successful planting day this last Saturday.

Over twenty volunteers worked hard, sometimes almost back breaking, to collect rubble all over the site. These stones, bricks and rather large and heavy blocks of concrete now enjoy a second life and form a habitat for newts and other reptiles and amphibians.

The old advertising sign for the adjacent housing development was taken down, dismantled and re-purposed for our first on-site composting and leaf-mulching areas.

Many more brambles were removed all over the site, and last not least, between 400 and 500 fruiting hedge plants were planted along the fence by the towpath and along the back wall. Varieties include Hazel (corylus avellana), Quickthorn (crataegus monogyna), Blackthorn, also known as Sloe (prunus spinosa), Dog Rose (rosa canina), Ramanas Rose (rosa rugosa), Black Elder (sambucus nigra), Cherry Plum (prunus cerasifera myrobalan) and Crabapple (malus evereste).

All along the orchard trail, rabbit guards were reinforced and enlarged to give our young trees that extra bit of protection from hungry rodents.

Our heartfelt thanks go to all helpers on the day, everyone who stopped by or otherwise expressed their support, and of course to the Tree Council, who donated the hedge plants. A surprisingly mild, sunny and impressively productive Saturday!

We plan to add more soft fruit such as gooseberries, redcurrants or raspberries, and we can’t wait to see it all grow.

Watch this site and join us for the next steps at The Piggeries in February or March (planting of soft fruit, sowing of meadow flowers and grass).

Happy Christmas

merry-christmas-2016-02To celebrate the season and the end of the year, here’s a small collection of highlights from 2016. Isn’t it amazing?
And the year isn’t over yet!

While some of us continue to plant bulbs, make arrangements for the January and February planting, plan the next steps for the Piggeries and prepare to be part of an exhibition at the Museum of London, we wish you all a

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

May you enjoy your mulled cider and tipsy fruit liqueur or gin, your cold pressed apple juice or a heart-and-soul warming plum compote. May you preserve your health and strength to help grow and manage the orchard trail.

We hope to see you all in the new year.






Osterley Lock Orchard Expansion

img_20161217_105058While the pictures are still hot and our bones are still cold from this chilly and damp Saturday, here’s a huge thank you to all volunteers, to the Friends of Osterley and Clitheroe’s Locks and to Ealing park rangers James and Jon, without whom we couldn’t have done it:

The Osterley Lock Orchard site has now quadrupled in size after a huge amount of nettles, brambles and self-seeded trees were removed and used to construct dry hedges, popular with birds, rodents and reptiles. Two old pear trees and several existing trees were left with improved conditions, light and room to grow.

Scrap metal and several bags of litter were collected and removed, and hundreds of narcissi, bluebells and crocuses were planted at Osterley Lock and in the piggeries.

We’ll be planting 10 or 12 fruit trees in the newly cleared land at Osterley Lock on February 4, 2017, and will be on top of the massive nettle seed bank with continued scything, trimming, flailing and pruning to prevent a swift return to the old nettle jungle.

We all thought the site already looks splendid!

Last not least, I should mention that we did indeed experiment by pulling the nettles, including their roots, instead of flailing and mulching them, in one area. While everyone agrees that removal of the roots will be more effective, we all agreed that this method is not feasible for an area half the size of a football pitch and half a handful of volunteers. After two hours of pulling, during which many roots broke off and remained in the soil despite the best intentions to tease them out, we stopped the experiment and resigned ourselves to repeated pruning, trimming and scything over the next year or two, just as we have done on other orchard sites along the trail.

Everyone is welcome to help; watch out for announcements of regular tree care Saturdays and Tuesday evenings in the new year!