The West Orchard sits on a steeply sloping bank above the farm house. This is a plum orchard and is about 80 years old, elderly neighbours can remember when fruit from this farm and others went by horse and cart to the nearby railway station and hence to market at such distant places as Birmingham, Manchester and London. school children would help to load the trains.
A fruit ID has shown an unusual variety of plums. It was common to grow just one or two varieties but this orchard has not only the main commercial plums, such as Victoria, Yellow and Purple Pershore and Warwickshire Drooper, but also several less common plums. The discovery of Queens Crown, reputed to have been bred at nearby Eastham, was particularly exciting.
Work was needed in this orchard to make some of the very old trees safe before volunteers could start the restoration pruning. The owner is happy to retain the standing dead wood for wildlife and the ancient plum trees are a mecca for wildlife, as is the unimproved grassland and many anthills. Noble Chafer frass is in many of the old trees.
Volunteers have planted out new trees to fill the gaps and provide the orchard with the young trees needed to secure its future as an orchard. Most replanting has been with apple, some of which had already been planted along the field edges, to reduce the risk of silver leaf which is present in many of the old trees, but we will make sure that Queens Crown returns to the valley too.