Winter is nearly over and pruning is nearly done.

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.

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.


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.

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

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.

A Round Peg For a Square Hole

Now that we are in the middle of the tree planting season, at least as far as bare-rooted trees are concerned, it is worth remembering to fit a round peg into a square hole. In tree-planting terms, it means to dig a square hole for the new tree rather than the more intuitive round hole.

A pot- or bucket-shaped hole encourages the growing root system to build a tight knot similar to what happens when growing in a pot, while a square hole encourages the young roots to grow beyond the boundaries of the planting hole and into the rougher and tougher surroundings. The root quite simply doesn’t want to make a 90 degree turn when it hits the corner.

I suppose you might also dig a triangular hole to the same effect if you prefer, just not a round hole. You’re welcome to report results based on pentagons, hexagons, heptagons or octagons as compared to the perfect circle and the square for reference.

This is nicely explained in many more words but fewer corners this recent Guardian article.

National Tree Week

The Tree Council declares 23rd November to 1st December National Tree Week 2019.

Why not mark the occasion with a self-guided walk along the Hanwell and Norwood Green Orchard Trail? Download our walk brochure here.

The walk takes you along the orchard trail and its more than 160 fruit trees, but it also showcases some of the finest local nature spots. Ancient oak trees line the old raised lane just east of the Osterley Lock Orchard. Elthorne Waterside, the open park land behind the formal Elthorne Park, has an abundance of wild cherries, apples, pears and plums (in addition to those which we added over the years), and the Hanwell Meadows between the railway line and the canal are always worth a visit, featuring a large variety of mature and younger trees worth looking at.

Even if you don’t want to take a look at these trees and beauty spots in person, you might at least take a look at the Tree Council’s official 1975 press release. Doesn’t it make you feel nostalgic?

Summer Pruning

Come and join us for a casual walk across the Hanwell Meadows for this year’s summer pruning!

It’s an excellent opportunity to learn or to share your knowledge in subject matter, or to advocate yet another preferred pruning regime. Or you can simply come along, enjoy a lovely walk across the meadows in the company of our friendly volunteers.

Saturday September 14th at 11 o’clock

Jubilee Meadows
By the railway crossing

No experience is necessary, but please wear sturdy shoes and dress for the occasion. We hope to retire to the Fox for refreshments at around 14:00.

It’s Too Darn Hot

It’s too darn hot to think of an article for this week and we are off to a short break. The forecast is for a cooler Saturday and even promises a reasonable amount of rain, much needed by all trees.

More recently planted trees can still benefit from watering through the watering tubes, but those planted more than a year ago must fend for themselves and depend on a little bit of the good old British Summer once in a while: a young yet established tree has a rootstock of approximately one to 1 1/2 foot radius per inch of trunk diameter.

You’d expect a rootstock diameter of 8 to 12 feet in diameter, or 2 to 3 metres for a tree with a 3 to 4 inch trunk diameter.

Nothing that a watering can can address, but ye old persistent drizzle for a couple of hours, or a good summer shower once in a while most certainly can. So there’s something good even in a damp summer day or night!

Mulching Report

Our heartfelt thanks to everyone who came to help mulching trees and hedges at the Piggeries and St Margaret’s orchards last week.

What a fantastic way to start the new year!

Our next outing will be on Saturday February 9th to plant some trees to fill in for some losses during last year’s drought, please mark the date.

Artisan Woodchip

DSC_0078Happy New Year!

What better way to start the new year than return to old friends or to make a fresh start and new friends? None.

Why not join us next

Saturday January 12th, 2019
11 o’clock at The Piggeries [map]

We’ll mulch the trees with locally produced woodchip. It’s our very own home-made artisan woodchip (with thanks to the park rangers for support). It helps retain moisture and slows down weed growth while naturally composting into food to enrich the soil and help break up the heavy clay.

We’ll cover the Piggeries Orchard, St Margaret’s Orchard and Blackberry Corner, subject to weather and headcounts, and hope to retire to the Fox Inn for refreshments at approximately 2 o’clock.

We’ll bring the tools but you’re welcome to bring extra buckets or shovels. You should wear sensible shoes and clothes. We suggest that you wear a pair of gardening gloves to protect yourself from thorns and the occasional piece of metal or glass.

See you next week!


IMG_20180904_190059Just in case you didn’t know: Nature is amazing!

Its been one month to the day when a small grass fire burnt some of Blackberry Corner in the Hanwell Meadows.

First came the fire. Next came the local volunteers with water buckets, followed by the fire brigade, followed by more bucket-carrying volunteers.

Next came flocks of pigeons, which were enjoying seeds or insects among the burnt grass.

Look at it now. It’s been only four weeks and you can barely see where it was! The meadow is already lush with regrown grass again, only those parts with poor soil still expose some of the burnt surface. One of the burnt trees shows signs of life. Truly amazing.