Virtual apples, orchards, inspiration and groundhogs.

Well here we are in the second lockdown of the year, and because of the restrictions there have been very few apple day events across the region. Such a shame when the apples were looking lovely this year. Still, my interest in apples and orchards has been able to continue in the virtual world, so I thought I would give the links to a few sites that I have found interesting while I have not been able to get out and about. For those of you who prefer a good old fashioned book to read, I will discuss my favourites next week.

First, I am happy to say that the East of England Apples and Orchards Project has had a full make-over of its website. Have a look at the wealth of information on their website. If you are looking for a sustainable Christmas present for an orchard fan, membership of EEAOP is only £15 per year, or you can sponsor a tree in their heritage orchard.

Our friends The Orchard Project have been doing amazing work setting up urban orchards and other fruit projects all across the country. At the moment you can meet Mervyn Mouse, and listen to a free bedtime story about him read by Alys Fowler, which is perfect for getting your children interested in apples. If you are a little too old for Mervyn, I learned a lot from the Project’s interview with apple expert Joan Morgan, on the importance of heritage varieties.

Here’s a site that has kept me entertained – Random Street View Which, as it says, brings up a different view of anywhere in the world. You can travel from Greece to Singapore to Sweden in three clicks. I like to see if I can guess what country, or at least what part of the world the view shows, before I peek at the little map. Sometimes you’ll see some fruit trees like these or a grove of bananas, or olive trees, but I’ve yet to see an apple orchard. If you find one let me know.

If you are on Instagram you are welcome to follow me @cambsfairy.
I post mainly shots of gardens, plants, sometimes more personal pics like those of my Halloween pumpkins. I follow a few apple-related ‘grammers, (I don’t think there are many) including @pomme_queen who is taking the most beautiful portraits of American apples and @someinterestingapples who has a really unusual project going on, assessing wild and seedling apples that are found growing in hedgerows.
Others whose posts I particularly I enjoy are @acambridgediary to see Cambridge and the surrounding area in all its beauty, whatever the season. @gill.meller and @dianahenryfood give me inspiration for my next meal, and @themontydon shares personal views of Long Meadow and words of wisdom. And finally I am sure that @chunk_the_groundhog will bring some joy into your day. He lives in his very own garden, where he eats apples with maximum enthusiasm, but minimal manners. Cute as he is, I am glad we don’t have groundhogs in the U.K, I don’t think the apples at Trumpington Orchard would stand a chance.

Swifts make essential journey home

The Swift Tower at the orchard is now home to at least three nesting pairs of swifts. These marvellous birds, that weigh the same as a Creme Egg, have travelled all the way from Africa to nest here. The Swift Tower is designed to play a recording of the swift’s cries, in order to entice them in. Apparently no swift likes to be the first swift to make a nest in a particular spot, so you have to fool them that the nest tower is already popular. Whatever the swift psychology, it’s worked. And we are delighted to welcome them.

Juvenile swifts. Photo by Eric Kaiser, at the Swift Conservation Trust, who built the tower for us.

New team member, new skills

Chris and the new noticeboard

As you probably know, Trumpington Community Orchard is managed by a very small core team of volunteers, with many other supporters helping out with maintenance and other activities (when we are allowed to have any). So we are pleased to welcome Chris Thane, who has lived close to the orchard for fifteen years, and has recently brought his skills to us in renovating our noticeboard and gate, and helping with our maintenance sessions. Chris hopes to add more information about our apple varieties to engage the passers-by going to the guided busway and new houses. Thanks to Chris and all our supporters for everything you do.

Bird’s eye blossom

We were lucky enough recently to make use of a drone, to get a really unusual view of our orchard and all its blossom. Here’s a little taste of what a drone can do. If you’ve ever wondered what the swifts see on their way from the swift tower, here it is.

Spring is not cancelled

In these strange lockdown times, it is the small things that matter most. The view from a window, or the things we see when we are allowed to be outside. Perhaps this daily walk will become a habit, when things return to whatever version of ‘normal’ we might like. I can’t walk in the orchard – I am with family in Norfolk, but whether I am there or not the trees will get on with being trees. The blossom will open, even if nobody sees it. (Very Zen, I know). But I hope that you can get to see the orchard, and sniff the blossom, and look at the flowers and the insects. Spring is not cancelled, it’s all out there. So here are my favourite photos from springs gone by, just to remind you.
The practical bit – the orchard is open access, but please observe the social distancing guidelines if anyone else is in the space. Do not picnic or meet in groups. Please, as always, tidy up and take your rubbish home.

Our trees have been Wassailed for the year ahead

On Sunday 12 January 2020, we greeted the trees with music, song and noise. We gave each tree a libation of  apple juice, and we hung toast in the branches. We danced in a circle. All of these activities are traditional ways of saying ‘Wassail’ – good health – to the orchard. And Wassailing  also happens to be an excellent way of keeping warm and making friends in the dark days of winter.  We hope that the trees appreciate our efforts and will reward us with a good harvest this year.  A massive thank you to everyone who turned up and put so much goodwill into it all, and especially to everyone who put so much into our Donations Pot.


Here we come a Wassailing – Event on 12 January 2020, 2:30pm

In the olden days, rural folk and villagers across the apple-growing counties must have endured the short, cold days and long, cold nights of winter with gloom. What better way to drive that away than to create a ritual involving firelight, noise and cheery singing? And if there was cider involved so much the better. Wassailing, or giving thanks to the orchard, has a long and colourful history and we are happy to be part of its revival.

These days the wassail is less cider-centric, but even more fun. Our annual wassail will be led by Nigel Pennick and we will all follow, singing (or at least making a noise) as we go. Along the way we tie some toast dipped in apple juice in the branches of each tree. All this will protect the apple trees and encourage them to bear a bumper crop next year, so it’s essential arboriculture.

Turn up with a torch or a lantern, and enjoy some hot mulled apple juice. Wrap up warm and be prepared to sing. The event is free but donations to help the orchard and cover our costs are much appreciated. Children very welcome.

Please bear in mind there are no facilities on the orchard. Parking is on the adjacent streets – please park with consideration to our neighbours.

wassail 2015 22 A




Working off the Christmas calories

I love to have a relaxing Christmas, including sitting around watching terrible films, but there’s only so much of that I can enjoy before I begin to feel a bit like a Christmas pudding. If you get that feeling too come and join us on Monday 30 December 2019 for a Bramble Blitz and litter picking session. We will be starting at 10.30 am in the community orchard, and ending up with a free lunch of hearty soup and bread which will be served in the Clay Farm Community Garden building.
This event is supported with a grant from TKMaxx and Homesense.

Our orchard relies on voluteers, so we really do appreciate the efforts of everybody who turns up and helps out. In particular the Orchard team would like to say a big thank you to Anna who is volunteering for an hour every Tuesday between 8 am and 9 am. So far she has helped to rake up cuttings from the scythed meadow and dig out brambles and turns up whatever the weather with a willingness to help.

Be like Anna – Come along and see what you can do. You will leave feeling more warm and fuzzy than a Christmas jumper.


Trumpington Topsy

It’s official – Trumpington has its very own apple. The Trumpington Topsy apple variety was grown from a pip and is now a fruiting tree, within the chicken plots opposite the orchard. The tree and the apples were assessed by a panel of experts, and its DNA was compared to others in the National Fruit Collection at Brogdale. From all that, the experts said that the seedling was unique, not comparible to any other variety, and could have its own name. And so, we are proud to present – Trumpington Topsy.
Trumpington Topsy is a large, flat-round apple, mainly yellow with a red blush and red streaking. When picked straight from the tree it is good as a cooking apple, but it will sweeten up when stored and becomes a good dessert apple, although it does not keep too long. So far it is a good healthy tree, and we hope to take grafts from it so that we can bring on more trees in years to come.

Orchard Maintenance Dates

We hold a maintenance session every second Sunday of the month (11am – 1pm), and every fourth Thursday (10am – 12pm)

If you love our orchard, and want to help keep it special, please come along to one of our regular maintenance sessions.  We provide all the tools you need, and lots of help and advice, so if you’ve never done any gardening before, don’t worry. It’s a great way to spend some time in the outside and meet new people

.These sessions are when we look after the trees and check what needs to be done. For each season we will check the health of the trees, attend to any pests and diseases, and make the orchard look as beautiful as possible. It’s vital work to keep the orchard going and we rely on our volunteers to look after these trees, so we really appreciate the help. You don’t have to stay for the whole session, just come along when you can. Superivised children are welcome but please note we have no toilet/hand washing etc facilities on site or nearby. Please wear clothes suitable for outdoor work.

DATES FOR 2019:  Every second Sunday of the month (11am – 1pm), and every fourth Thursday (10am – 12pm)

Sunday 10 Feb
Thursday 28 Feb

Sunday 10 March
Thursday 28 March

Sunday 14 April
Thursday 25 April

Sunday 12 May
Thursday 23 May

Sunday 9 June
Thursday 27 June

Sunday 14 July
Thursday 25 July

Sunday 11 August
Thursday 22 August

Sunday 8 Sept
Thursday 26 Sept

Sunday 13 Oct
Thursday 24 Oct

Sunday 10 Nov
Thursday 28 Oct

Sunday 8 Dec
(Thursday 26 Dec – probably not going to happen!)