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
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
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
For the last hundred years there has been an annual mistletoe and holly auction at Tenbury Wells in Worcestershire. It’s the largest wholesale market for English mistletoe in the country and attracts buyers from all over the British Isles. This was the last of three auctions.
Orchard Origins will be harvesting mistletoe as part of its mistletoe management programme in the Dormington orchard later this week. We will be selling sprigs of it at Hereford farmers’ market in the run up to Christmas.