CHRISTMAS OFFER Subscribe to Hertfordshire Life today CLICK HERE

Hertfordshire orchards and apple days

PUBLISHED: 15:35 07 September 2015 | UPDATED: 16:09 21 March 2016

Tewin Orchard apples

Tewin Orchard apples

Archant

Orchards and especially apple days have become increasingly popular as the local food revolution has grown in recent years. With hundreds of orchards in the county, Herts and Middlesex Wildlife Trust conservation manager Tim Hill says they are not only popular with people, but a fabulous resource for wildlife too

Tewin Orchard in fruitTewin Orchard in fruit

There are more than 2,000 orchards in Hertfordshire and Middlesex but as recently as the 19th century there were three times that many. Many of these orchards provide a direct link to our horticultural history and provide a feast for all the senses, not just taste. But it isn’t just people that benefit - every tree in an orchard gives a wide range of animals, insects and plants homes and food.

Liking lichen

The bark of fruit trees supports many species of lichen. A recent survey found that an average Hertfordshire orchard contained 34 species of lichen on fruit trees. One of these, the oak moss lichen, is popular in the perfume industry – crushed between the fingers, it has a naturally pungent, oriental aroma. The limiting factor to diversity is usually air quality –poorer air quality means fewer lichens.

Budding bird

Bullfinch - a lover of fruit buds. Photo Tim HillBullfinch - a lover of fruit buds. Photo Tim Hill

An alternative name for the bullfinch is ‘budbird’ because the species has a love for the new buds of fruit trees, particularly those of apple trees. Unfortunately for the owners of the trees, where the bud is eaten, no fruit will grow.

In the 17th century, an act of parliament urged the control of bullfinches by putting a bounty of a penny on every bird killed. Bullfinches are now one of our rarer birds; classified amber on the list of Birds of Conservation Concern.

Listen out for their rather sad sounding ‘peeep’ call. If they see you first, look out for a white rump as they fly off.

Flower power

A badger enjoys the spoils at Tewin OrchardA badger enjoys the spoils at Tewin Orchard

When fruit trees are in blossom, not only are they stunningly beautiful but they provide a bounty of nectar and pollen which supports bumble bees, solitary bees, butterflies, beetles and moths. Night flying insects which feast on the nectar in turn provide food for bats.

Fruity feast

Apples, pears, plums and cherries are not only delicious treats for us but, unharvested, benefit all kinds of wildlife. As the fruit falls, blackbirds, redwings, fieldfares and song thrushes will feast on the fruit. Foxes and badgers are partial to windfall too. As it ages, wasps and other insects will be attracted to the sweet, rotting fuits.

Good dead wood

As fruit trees age, the amount of decaying and dead wood increases. The noble chafer, one of our rarest beetles, lives on decaying wood in plum, cherry and apple trees. Wasps also make use of this material – listen carefully and you may hear them scraping off layers of wood to create nests. Rot holes in the limbs of fruit trees provide nesting places for woodpeckers and roosting spaces for bats.

CASE STUDY: Tewin Orchard

Planted in the 1900s, Tewin Orchard was originally owned by the Hopkyns family and is managed today by the Herts and Middlesex Wildlife Trust as a nature reserve - thanks to the wishes of the last private owner, Molly Hopkyns. Much of the fruit, harvested in the autumn, is turned into fruit juice, bottled, and sold to raise money for the trust. Spring visits give amazing views of fruit trees in blossom. Throughout the year, the site is bustling with wildlife. Here are some of things you can expect to see in the next few months:

Autumn

Mammals: Bank and field voles, bats and other small mammals fill up on berries and seeds before hibernation. Badgers eat windfall fruits and berries growing in the hedges.

Birds: Fieldfares and redwings, mistle and song thrushes feast on fallen fruit and berries in the holly hedge.

Insects: Bees, butterflies, moths and hoverflies feed on fallen fruit. Spiders hunt and build webs. Some butterfly species look for crevices and hollows in bark to hibernate in.

Fungi: Mushrooms and other fungi appear on the orchard floor.

Plants: Ivy provides a late nectar source for insects.

Winter

Insects: Ladybirds crawl under loose tree bark to overwinter.

Plants: Mistletoe appears and its white berries provide food for the mistle thrush. Apple trees are a favourite for this semi-parasitic plant.

Fungi: Late varieties of fungi can be found in the grassland.

Mammals: Although the badger sleeps deeply during the coldest periods, it will awake to forage for worms and insects on milder nights. We start to enjoy the orchard fruits we’ve stored for the winter.

Tewin Orchard Apple Day

Join Herts and Middlesex Wildlife Trust and Tewin volunteers to celebrate Tewin Orchard’ 25th annual apple day on Sunday October 11 - a celebration of all things apple and an opportunity to enjoy the fruits of the team’s labours. The event features many children’s activities as well as a barbecue, and apples, apple juice, preserves, tea, coffee and cake for sale.

The event runs from midday-4.30pm. Entry is free. See hertswildlifetrust.org.uk/appleday for more details.

0 comments

Welcome , please leave your message below.

Optional - JPG files only
Optional - MP3 files only
Optional - 3GP, AVI, MOV, MPG or WMV files
Comments

Please log in to leave a comment and share your views with other Hertfordshire visitors.

We enable people to post comments with the aim of encouraging open debate.

Only people who register and sign up to our terms and conditions can post comments. These terms and conditions explain our house rules and legal guidelines.

Comments are not edited by Hertfordshire staff prior to publication but may be automatically filtered.

If you have a complaint about a comment please contact us by clicking on the Report This Comment button next to the comment.

Not a member yet?

Register to create your own unique Hertfordshire account for free.

Signing up is free, quick and easy and offers you the chance to add comments, personalise the site with local information picked just for you, and more.

Sign up now

More from Out & About

Yesterday, 10:28

It’s a great tradition, but where to go? Countryside Management Service projects officer Emily Clowry picks five of the best Boxing Day rambles in Herts

Read more
Tuesday, December 4, 2018

Hertfordshire’s churches are storehouses of history, yet they also attract legends. Mia Jankowicz follows the mysterious trail

Read more
December 2018
Monday, December 3, 2018

Clear your head during the colder months with a walk around the beautiful and varied Hertfordshire countryside. We have gathered eight spots that make stunning walks in the winter

Read more
Tuesday, November 20, 2018

From Aldbury to Wheathampstead, Hertfordshire has a plethora of pretty villages. We have picked just 10 that you should visit

Read more
Friday, November 16, 2018

Christmas isn’t complete without a trip to a festive fair. From German-style food stalls to vintage fetes, Hertfordshire’s Christmas markets have it all

Read more
Wednesday, October 31, 2018

We quiz author Kevin Exley about his new book that takes the reader on the trail of fascinating stories, new and old, around Berkhamsted

Read more
October 2018
Monday, October 29, 2018

Hertfordshire is a county with a vast, fascinating and sometimes dark and bloody history that has reportedly lead to more than a few angry ghosts sticking around to wreak havoc and take revenge on the living. We have gathered 10 of the most haunted places in the county

Read more
Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Make the most out of autumn with these eight walking routes that take in a variety of Hertfordshire’s terrains and - most importantly – have a cosy pub along the way

Read more
Tuesday, October 16, 2018

We've selected a variety of spooky activities in the county that are sure to delight the kids

Read more
Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Herts and Middlesex Wildlife Trust’s Charlotte Hussey explores the fascinating world of bats and new projects in the county to help conserve these remarkable creatures

Read more
October 2018

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to the following newsletters:

Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Our Privacy Policy



Topics of Interest

Food and Drink Directory

Local Business Directory

Search For a Car In Your Area

Property Search