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Writing poetry in the orchardA delightful day at Dragon Orchard at a poetry workshop held in conjunction with The Ledbury Poetry Festival and part of Herefordshire Year in the Orchard.

The day was run by local sculptor, artist and poet David Walker with the orchard input from Chris Fairs of Bulmers and Norman Stanier.

David Walker displays his Haiga

Some of the contributions:

Machines for pruning
do mothers work
I miss her

An apple a day
twenty tons per acre
eat drink and be merry

Not looking for perfection
mouthfeel
tells it all

Flat hidden buds
you grow from
sustainable joy

Warm the rain
share the colour
of my umbrella

David PealingYear in the orchard celebrations continued in May at Dragon Orchard with a drop-in workshop on ‘a beginners guide to beekeeping’. David Pealing (Mr P) from Putley has been keeping bees for about seven years now, and is supplying Once Upon a Tree shop with his honey. Annie and Norman Stanier have wanted beehives in their orchard so this was a great opportunity to team up with Mr P.

MeEric helps build the hiver P had an old hive that required refurbishment. He set up outside to work on it with his willing helper Eric (10). They set too making new frames with foundation wax, wood, hammer and nails and managed quite a production line. Interested parties were welcomed to join in the action. Questions and Answers carried on a pace and eventually an inquisitive crowd gathered to learn more about the life and times of the honey bee, its hive and its role in the orchard.

Due to the very warm Easter we had experienced, the honey bees had already been very productive in some of Mr P’s hives in the village. For added interested the audience were herded into the garage and the electric doors lowered in preparation for a honey extraction display (The door was closed to reduce any bees flying past, being attracted to the honey.) Four frames heavy with comb and honey were lowered into an extraction barrel. The lid replaced and then a lot of manual effort About to extract the honey!was required to central frugally extract the honey. Efforts were rewarded with the sampling of very sweet, clear, magnificent honey.

DHive siting instructionsuring this day a competition was run to find the most appropriate site for the new hive. Visitors were offered the chance to set out into the orchard armed with a numbered stake, mallet and the few tips given by Mr P on the best place for a hive and find their ideal position. They were encouraged by the thought that the winning stake placed closest to the final resting place of the hive would win the first jar of honey from Dragon Orchards hive.

Our bee hiveThe day was informative but fun. Many of us left with more knowledge of the bee and beekeeping than we came with. Many thanks to Mr P for all his hard work.

Kay Harris


UPDATE: May 5th 2011 - The Hive has been sited in the orchard between the Big Hug and Tin Shed along the hedgerow. The winning stake was No.4 belonging to Tim Kemp. Congratulations! He will be receiving the first jar of honey extracted but first we need some bees!


Swarm of bees introduced to the hiveUPDATE: May 17th 2011 - Breaking news: We have a swarm of bees living in Dragon Orchard’s hive. They needed a little help in finding it but they have settled in and are being productive – you could say it is a hive of activity! Hopefully honey will be soon!

Photography-in-the-orchard

Yesterday we had our Herefordshire Year in the Orchard April event - Photography in the Orchard - led by two multi-award winning photograpers Richard Crompton and Linda Wright.

About 14 people were on the course, all hoping for Richard and Linda to reveal their secrets, and enable us to get closer to their standard.

We were not dissapointed!

Rich led the workshop with some back to basics work on how cameras "see" and how best to overcome your camera's limitations, to achieve the depth of field and exposure you want. He then moved onto composition, demonstrating some of the rules with his own photos. Each session was punctuated with an opportunity to take shots ourselves, including help with portrait work - something I know I stuggle with!

In the afternoon, Linda told us her techniques to capture stunning wildlife shots, and gave us the chance to take photos of a Scops owl and a young Kestrel brought by the International Centre for Birds of Prey based in nearby Newent. We managed to take shots, close up and in flight with our two very obliging and beautiful models!

Our final assignment (after a tasting session!) was to capture the essense of the orchard, using the techniques learned throughout the day.

All in all, everyone really enjoyed the day, and went away enthused and more knowledgable than they arrived.

A big thank you to Richard and Linda for an excellent day!

Click on "Read more" to see some of my photos I took on the day:

It's not just the blossom that's providing colour in the orchard at the moment...

Annie's sister Sue had a wander through the orchard yesterday, and with a fine eye for wildflowers counted no less than 34 different species currently in bloom!

This is a really good indicator that the orchard biodiversity is healthy, and makes for an lovely walk around the orchard.

Here is the list of flowers:

DaisyDragon Orchard Wild Flowers
Groundsel
Plantain
Cowslip
Dead Nettle, red, white and yellow
Bluebell
Primrose
Violet, purple and mauve
Cow Parsley
Shepherd's Purse
Celandine
Dandelion
Forget me Not
Vetch
Speedwell
Ground Ivy
Ladies Smock or Cuckoo Flower, mauve and white
Bugle
Meadow Buttercup
Comfrey, white
Wood Anemone
Red Campion
Herb Robert
Privet
Wood Stichwort
Giant Hogweed
Garlic Mustard
Water Horsetail
Lesser Spearwort

Daisy

Groundsel

Plantain

Cowslip

Dead Nettle, red, white and yellow

Bluebell

Primrose

Violet, purple and mauve

Cow Parsley

Shepherd's Purse

Celandine

Dandelion

Forget me Not

Vetch

Speedwell

Ground Ivy

Ladies Smock or Cuckoo Flower, mauve and white

Bugle

Meadow Buttercup

Comfrey, white

Wood Anemone

Red Campion

Herb Robert

Privet

Wood Stichwort

Giant Hogweed

Garlic Mustard

Water Horsetail

Lesser Spearwort

Pupitres full of cider and perryOur new Champagne pupitres arrived this morning, and I spent an hour loading them with our 2009 traditional method sparkling perry and cider.

I will riddle these bottles twice a day in an attempt to get the yeast on the crown cap in time for the Big Apple Blossomtime Competition! - a bit of a tall order....  I've got 16 days... normally it takes 24 days... wish me luck!

onceuponatree Just donated the first couple of cases of Wild Flight #cider to @ICBPNewent in celebration of their 50th anniversa… https://t.co/wSvh3ArPZz
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onceuponatree Cider Hustings Sat - find out which party supports #realcider #localbusiness #ruralenvironment @3CCiderShop 1pm -2pm #GeneralElection2017
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onceuponatree RT @pilangocider: Food question of the week : #cider to go with lamb? Kingston redstreak by @onceuponatree from #hereford . Robust and full…
onceuponatree RT @3CCiderShop: Mix cider and politics this Saturday - promises to be a very lively debate! https://t.co/rPFjKlfIjR
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