At this year’s Wassail we had a demonstration from The Wympole Green Woodworking group who used a pole lathe to make a variety of items. Many thanks to them for the fascinating demo and for being so weather resistant. We hope to collaborate with them again – let us know if you’d be interested in attending a demo or a course of some kind.
On Sunday 14th January 2018 we held our tenth Wassail! Here are some photos that have come my way so far, hopefully I can put up some more to show you the Green Woodworking Group and everything else that went on. Let’s hope it did the trick and the apple trees will produce a bumper harvest this autumn.
21 October is National Apple Day, and it’s the time of year when we take our expertise about apples out and about. With our friends from the East of England Apples and Orchards Project, we will be at Apple Day events across the region, helping to identify apples that are brought in, and spreading the word about the amazing varieties you can grow at home.
Here’s a list of all the Apple Days where apple identification is on offer, but there are more events happening so do pop along to your local event.
And, because it’s ‘peak apple’ in October, I am out and about talking at many local Garden Clubs, all of which are happy to welcome visitors if you fancy coming along and learning more about the amazing history of apples and how to look after your trees:
21 September- Scotsdales, Great Shelford – fruit in modern gardens (not just apples!)
10 October – Shelford Gardening Club
11 October – Whittlesford Gardening Club
12 October – Girton Gardening Club
23 October – Wickhambrook Horticultural Society
27 October – Cottenham Garden Club
Do you want to explore your creativity? Do you love spending time in the orchard? Do you have a playful spirit of fun? If the answer to any of these questions is ‘YES’ then sign up for A is for Apple, a creative arts project at Trumpington Community Orchard.
Led by artist Jamie Harper, this week long residency will invite you to create playful activities with other participants, in a relaxed and informal environment, using a variety of artistic methods including drawing, the arrangement of objects and imaginative role-play.
Over the course of the week, we will explore the things that matter to us, focusing on the orchard as a precious but fragile place of imagination, playfulness and community. Through our shared explorations, we will make creative play activities about who we are, what we care about and what kind of future we want to live in.
Play sessions will take place at the following dates and times:
Tuesday 19th September: 3.30-5.30pm
Wednesday 20th September: 5.30-7.30pm
Friday 21st September: 3.30-5.30pm
Saturday 22nd September: 11am-1pm & 3-5pm
Sunday 23rd September: (Closing Event) 2-6pm
Please note that you don’t need to take part in all sessions. You can come to as many (or as few) as you like! If you are interested in getting involved, or if you want to find out more, please contact Jamie Harper at: firstname.lastname@example.org
More about Jamie’s work is here
Alright I know there’s Christmas first, (oh and Thanksgiving for our friends in the States) and they are both fun times, with plenty of opportunities to eat apples. BUT after all the festivities are done, and the cold grey days of January seem to have little to offer, there’s our Wassail. It’s a little later than Old Twelfth Night, for various reasons, but that gives us more time to plan and prepare and practice the Wassailing song.
If you’re wondering what a Wassail is, and how you do it, it’s best described as a celebration of apple trees and a chance to give them a traditional blessing and encourage them to fruit well in 2017. If that sounds a bit earnest, let me tell you that previous years have involved a wheelbarrow orchestra, folk musicians dressed in traditional ‘rags’, participants dressed in greenery and one as a penguin, some circle dancing and very loud and enthusiastic singing.
Put the date in your diary now, and look here and on our Facebook page for further updates.
Wassailing has been carried to Tasmania, with gusto and enthusiasm.
Wassailing. Photo by Natalie Mendham. Used with the kind permission of the Huon Valley Mid-Winter Fest
Alicia Marchant,The University of Tasmania
Give me one kiss in apple-blossom
Give me one wish, and I’d be wassailing
In the orchard, my English rose
(Kate Bush, Oh England, My Lionheart)
After dark on a Saturday night in the Huon Valley in southern Tasmania, a group of around 50 people, loud both in noise and in colour, parade through the centre of an enormous, enthralled crowd. The Morris parading group are dressed in their traditional bells and tatters, some with flowers and plant materials (birch sticks and leaves), top hats and tails, and brightly painted faces. Some are dressed in furs with pagan-styled animal masks, including wolves and bears, and there is one white horse. With banners, lanterns and flaming torches the group parades through the crowd, banging loudly on pots and…
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In the May sunshine the hedges are smothered in the white blossom of Hawthorn and Elder. Some of our volunteers were interested in making elderflower cordial – now very fashionable as a ‘presse’ or a posh pop, so Susanna has kindly shared her tried and tested recipe.
20 elderflower heads ( no insects on board and nice and young – just open and full of pollen )
31/2 lb granulated sugar
3 pints of cooled boiled water
50 grams citric acid
5 lemons sliced
Spread the elderflower heads out on a clean cloth, and all the little insects will run away…Mix in a large pan or bucket. Cover and leave for 24 hours stirring every so often. Strain and bottle in clean sterile bottles ( glass juice bottles or wine bottles washed and sterilised in an oven are good ).Label and store in a cool place.Will last until next years elderflowers start to open.Makes a refreshing drink when you add cold sparkling water . Is also nice to make cocktails or add elderflower flavour to other dishes ( e.g. with gooseberry ).
The scent of elderflower is very distinctive, as are the flat heads, but there are a couple of other ‘lacy’ plants, such as viburnum, which look superficially similar. If you are in any doubt – don’t pick!
On Monday afternoon, a bus left the rails of the guided busway, went up the bank and came to rest in the hawthorn hedge at the back of the orchard. Very sadly five people on the bus were injured in the accident, and of course our main concern is that those injured, and all those affected, make a speedy and full recovery. We wish them all the best.
Meanwhile down in the orchard, once the bus had been removed, we stood and looked at the damage to the hedge with some shock and amazement. It looks – well – it looks as if a bus has flattened it. The two mature hawthorn trees have been completely torn out at the roots, and as for the rest only time will tell if any of it can be persuaded to grow back.
Cambridge Council and Stagecoach have both been to look at the site and we are communicating with them throughout. We are also seeking advice from experts as to how to proceed.
In the meantime the quince tree will enjoy getting a bit of extra light, and those on the bus and the path have a totally new view into the orchard.
More information in the Cambridge News
I am delighted to say that, thanks to the Wildlife Trusts of Bedforshire, Cambridgeshire and Northamptonshire, a new orchard is coming to Trumpington. But the rangers need help to plant the trees on the site at Trumpington Meadows, and turn this area into a beautiful wildlife sanctuary. These pockets of green parks, orchards and community gardens are so important as wildlife corridors, to help with pollination of the local plants (including those in our gardens) and, of course, they are a restful space for local residents to visit.
So come along to the Orchard Day at Trumpington Meadows on Satuday 27 February 10am – 2pm. There will be a range of apple- related activities for all ages, and the opportunity to plant a local variety apple tree. Details are on the poster below (do print and/or share it) and also on the Wildlife Trust Facebook page
At the heart of a wassail is a good old sing song – a carol, a wassail song or something more like a hymn. Many of them are regional, a lot of them go back to the nineteenth century and even earlier. So here are the three we will be singing on 10 January (we meet at 2:30pm at the orchard.) If you can play a (portable, acoustic) instrument, by all means bring it along and join in. Personally I can’t read music, and I can’t carry a tune in a bucket, but that’s not going to stop me. The purpose of all the singing is to make enough noise to scare evil spirits from the orchard, so I should be fine!