The winter months are usually quiet in our orchards, there are only a few winter-tasks to be done. The last two months, we have planted some trees in Blackberry Corner, on the Elthorne Terraces and in Osterley Lock Orchard, to fill up gaps caused by fire and disease, . We have also done most of the pruning of the apple and pear trees. -The plums and other soft fruits have to wait till Summer before we prune them.-
Dates for the diary
This Saturday March 11th we will try to finish all pruning tasks. Please come to the allotment next to The Piggeries around 10:00 o’clock to collect tools.
Since the second Saturday in April (Saturday April 8th ) is the Saturday before Easter we moved our working Saturday to the 15th of April. We’ll be mulching, watering or weeding … all tasks depending on the weather.
Sometime after Easter, we will start our weekly, evening sessions again, beginning with a tidy up of the orchards closest to The Piggeries. Please register as a volunteer if you want updates on where we’ll be working.
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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
and lots of happy hours in the orchards.
Dates for the diary:
Working Saturday January: 15th of January (moved from the 8th)
Although our weekly, tree tending evenings had to stop because of fading light, our work is nowhere finished (is it ever?). Luckily for you, we’ve got some interesting events lined up for the coming months and we hope to see many of our members attending one or even more.
Apple day at Horsenden Farm
This Appleday -Saturday the 25th-, we’ll be at one of the stalls to tell you all about the plans for a new community orchard at Horsenden Farm. Orchards are a priority habitat for biodiversity, providing food and shelter for a wealth of wildlife. Working in an orchard reduces stress and anxiety. We are available this Saturday to answer all your questions on all things orchard, our orchard trail and the benefits for nature and people.
Saturday Orchard working days
The second Saturday of every month (except December) is ‘working Saturday’. Usually, we take on a task that needs more hands and time than our evening sessions. If you want to know where we are working, please register here Volunteer Email and you will receive an email with all the information, closer to the date. The planned activities will sometimes change last minute because of weather or other unforeseen circumstances and our volunteers email is the best way to stay in the loop. The planned dates are the following;
Saturday 9th October (Blackberry Corner),
Saturday 13th November (renewing labels, recce of trees and pruning needed)
Saturday 8th January 2022 (Pruning / Mulching)
Saturday 12th February 2022 (Pruning / Mulching)
Saturday 12th March (to be announced)
Annual General Meeting 2021
It’s nearly that time of the year again, the time for our genuinely important and not quite so terribly serious AGM
Wednesday 3th November, 2021
at 72, St Margaret’s Road, Hanwell W7 2HF.
I am happy to announce that this is our fifth AGM. None of the founding members expected the project to fail quickly, but I suppose we all share some pride in the fact that we made it so far, and the project still is very much alive and ticking after 7 years.
All members of the Hanwell & Norwood Green Orchard Trail are entitled to attend and vote at the AGM. Come along and cast your vote, share some nibbles, thoughts and suggestions, catch up with the latest plans, craziest ideas and help us continue to function as an organisation. (Please email firstname.lastname@example.org to confirm your attendance. There is no charge for attendance at the AGM.)
Bring you own food and drink to the sharing table, bring your own children and friends. Bring your own smile, a kite, a blanket or camping chair.
Please be mindful of plastic waste and food waste though: bring only as much as your own company would consume, avoiding plastic where possible. Please be prepared to take back leftovers. Please bring your own glass or cup so that we can avoid plastic cups – or drink straight from the bottle 😉
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.
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 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!
We wish you a very Happy Easter and, most importantly in this crazy spring, we wish you a very Healthy Easter.
May you stay safe and sane or, if the bug has gotten to you yet, may you recover soon and fully! Our heartfelt best wishes are with everyone, anywhere.
May you find time and sufficient isolation to walk along the Orchard Trail as part of your daily exercise regime! The trees are in full bloom and everything is lush and vibrant with fresh greens; it is nature at its best.