Wildlife In The Winter Orchard

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Winter is a busy time in the orchard. Once the trees have entered dormancy, it is the perfect time to plant new bare root trees and do some formative and restorative pruning on  apples and pears.  It is also a wonderful time to enjoy the wildlife that venture into the orchards for food and shelter. The windfalls provide a valuable late food source for many birds and mammals. Continue reading

The Mistle Thrush and Mistletoe

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During the winter months the orchards take on a different character. Disrobed of their leaves, the trees reveal their true form. It is a good time of year to catch sight of the many bird species that use the orchards as their winter larder. The Mistle Thrush is a regular visitor attracted by the mistletoe that grows in the apple trees.  At this time of year this pale, black-spotted thrush can be heard loudly defending clumps of mistletoe which is a valuable food source for the bird. Continue reading

Managing Mistletoe

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Dormington is a good example of an orchard that is in need of mistletoe management. Many of the trees are over eighty years old and struggling to thrive under the weight of this parasitic plant.  Trees can cope with small amounts of mistletoe, but unchecked it can swamp the tree and eventually threaten its survival.

Cutting and selling mistletoe prunings is a traditional method of controlling its impact. Orchard Origins has been  harvesting mistletoe at Dormington to sell in the run up to Christmas.   Continue reading