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In anticipation of our upcoming Herefordshire Year in the Orchard Event - "Photography in the Orchard", I've been out taking some photos in the fantastic weather we've had the past couple of days. Last night, we had a beautiful crescent moon, low in the west, and I tried to be all arty with a torch in front of the pear blossom! This is the best of the photos (click for a bigger photo):

Pear Blossom and Moon

I've also tried a couple of macro shots, first, blossom with a money spider:

Pear Blossom with Money Spider

And a close up of a quince bud:

Quince Bud

Feel free to comment!!!!

I was looking for Pupitres to borrow, rent, or even buy to "riddle" our Champagne method sparkling cider and perry before our new automated riddling machine arrives. Whilst searching for "pupitres" on ebay came across someone selling this excellent postcard:

Pupitres in BulmersPupitres_in_Bulmers_Back

What an incredible sight that must have been - 200,000 bottles turned by hand every day. Assuming a 3 week cycle, they would be able to make nearly 3.5 million bottles per year. This traditional cider is all but lost, big volume production costed out of the market place by an extortionate duty regime, but we are doing our bit to revive quality traditional method sparkling cider and perry! We will be riddling around 5,000 bottles of the 2009 vintage this year, releasing by the end of May. We'll keep you informed!

By the way, you can see some of the racks, and original disgorging equipment at the Hereford Cider Museum - worth a visit!

 

Pruning has now finshed for this year, the heaps of prunings will be gathered and burned.
Winter pruning is essential to let light and air into the orchard canopy.

Winter pruning, carried out when trees are dormant, is one of the most important seasonal orchard jobs. It is essential routine maintenance, necessary for the health and vigour of the trees and also helps maintain overall orchard hygiene.

Trees are basically powered by sunlight and for fruiting trees this is one of the most crucial elements in how they perform. Many pests and diseases flourish in still, damp conditions and so good air flow is vital in providing control systems, especially against scab and mildew. Keeping the canopy open to allow ample light and sufficient air is a key management principle. My father used to sum this up in the maxim that when he had finished pruning a tree he should be able to throw his hat through it.

A second principle is as simple as ABCD. This signifies that you should Attack Broken Crossed and Diseased branches. Broken branches can let in disease and may damage healthy growth. Crossed branches will interfere with light and can cause rubbing and damage bark and anything diseased needs to be removed and burnt. In older orchards dead wood can be left as it can provide excellent habitat for many species and help maintain good biodiversity.

The third basic reason for winter pruning is to ensure the vigour of the tree. If the tree senses it is under threat or attack it will be stimulated or encouraged into a positive reaction. It will be reminded of the basic need to reproduce, encouraged to throw fruit bud and hence more fruit. Its reaction will depend on its root stock, age and condition, but as a general principle winter pruning will encourage or maintain the vigour of the tree.

So, if you remember to “Throw your hat”, go for ABCD and balance the vigour of the tree, you are well on your way to understanding the Principles of Pruning or The Art of Farming Light and Air.

Norman.

Herefordshire Year in the OrchardOn Saturday 18th February 2011 we gathered a fair crowd of around 50 people for our first event for Herefordshire Year in the Orchard. Some 436 years previously, almost to the day, a massive landslip occured on the nearby Marcle Ridge. 60,000 cubic metres of soil, rock, trees and livestock moved down the steep slope of the ridge, demolishing Kinnaston Chapel, leaving a deep and wide chasm, and creating an unusual lumpy landmass, that was duly named “The Wonder”.

435 years later we named our unique Dessert Pear Ice-wine after this local landmark!

Our EventNorman gives an introduction at the Village Hall

Once everyone was assembled and ready to venture forth on our walk, Norman Stanier introduced everyone to the Once Upon A Tree team, and then to our guest speaker local Geologist, Nic Howes.

Nic gave a short talk and description of the geology of the ridge, and the mechanics of how the slip occurred, including an explanation of the accounts that saw “her low parts [the landslip] mounted to a hill of 12 fathoms” – not what you would expect from a landslide!

Leaving Fortnam's OrchardThe walk, led by Norman, started from Putley Village Hall, walking through local farmland and orchards, passing the parish church, Putley Court, and onto Fortnams Orchard (one of the oldest family fruit farms in the area, and where many of the pears were sourced for “The Wonder”), Then onto the Wonder itself where the party divided, some taking in the walk over “Tumpy ground” "Tumpy Ground"and the base of the landslip, and others around the top of the landslip to see the remains of the chasm created when the land moved.

At hall end farm we saw what was suspected to be some of the quoins – cornerstones – that were taken from the remains of the chapel when the farm was being built. We returned to the hall via fields of sheep and lambs, and over small streams and muddy tracks & past the old mill.

At the hall, several bottles of “The Wonder” were opened and shared, along with pear juice for the younger members of the audience, and Simon Day revealed some of the secrets of its production!

Many of the visitors then retired to Dragon Orchard, where they enjoyed further tastings of cider and perry, and a chance to stock up on a few bottles!

Scrambling down the face of the Wonder

Despite the dim, damp, cloudy conditions, everyone really enjoyed the event, from locals who were surprised to learn so much more about what is on their doorstep, to visitors to the area who enjoyed the wonderful scenery and flavours that were on offer.

We look forward to seeing some of the same faces at our next Herefordshire Year in the Orchard event on the 12th March – “History of Orcharding in Putley” led by Norman Stanier.

For future events, see our events page, or have a look at yearintheorchard.org.

On Saturday 18th February 2011 we gathered a fair crowd of over 50 people for our first event for Herefordshire Year in the OrchardHerefordshire Year in the Orchard. Some 436 years previously, almost to the day, a massive landslip occurred on the nearby Marcle Ridge. 60,000 cubic metres of soil, rock, trees and livestock moved down the steep slope of the ridge, demolishing Kinnaston Chapel, leaving a deep and wide chasm, and creating an unusual lumpy landmass, that was duly named “The Wonder”.

435 years later we named our unique Dessert Pear Ice-wine after this local landmark!

Our Event

Once everyone was assembled and ready to venture forth on our walk, Norman Stanier introduced everyone to the Once Upon A Tree team, and then to our guest speaker local Geologist, Nic Howes.

Nic gave a short talk and description of the geology of the ridge, and the mechanics of how the slip occurred, including an explanation of the accounts that saw “her low parts [the landslip] mounted to a hill of 12 fathoms” – not what you would expect from a landslide!

The walk, led by Norman, started from Putley Village Hall, walking through local farmland and orchards, passing the parish church, Putley Court, and onto Fortnams Orchard (one of the oldest family fruit farms in the area, and where many of the pears were sourced for “The Wonder”), Then onto the Wonder itself, where the party divided taking in the walk over “Tumpy ground” and the base of the landslip, or around the top of the landslip to see the remains of the chasm created when the land moved. At hall end farm we saw what was suspected to be some of the quoins – cornerstones – that were taken from the remains of the chapel when the farm was being built. We returned to the hall via fields of sheep and lambs, and over small streams and muddy tracks & past the old mill.

At the hall, several bottles of “The Wonder” were opened and shared, along with pear juice for the younger members of the audience, and Simon Day revealed some of the secrets of its production!

Many of the visitors then retired to Dragon Orchard, where they enjoyed further tastings of cider an perry, and a chance to stock up on a few bottles!

Despite the dim, damp cloudy weather, everyone really enjoyed the event, locals who were surprised to learn more about what is on their doorstep, and visitors to the area, who enjoyed the wonderful scenery and flavours that were on offer.

We look forward to seeing some of the same faces at our next Herefordshire Year in the Orchard event on the 12th March – “History of Orcharding in Putley” led by Norman Stanier.

For other events, see our events page, or have a look at yearintheorchard.org.

Having just launched our new dessert pear wine, I am being asked how we came to name it "The Wonder".

As well as being appropriate in terms of dictionary definitions,

  1. "Wonder" - a thing or a quality of something that causes wonder // - a surprising event or situation
  2. "Wonder" - a feeling of amazement and admiration, caused by something beautiful, remarkable, or unfamiliar...

the main reason is a local landmark known as "The Wonder", a land slip that occured in 1575 on the nearby Marcle Ridge.  This description hangs in the nearby "Slip Tavern" in Much Marcle:

On the 17th February 1575 a very remarkable landslip occurred here: on the evening of that day Marcle Hill began to move, and in its progress overthrew the chapel at Kinnaston, together with hedges and trees and after destroying many cattle finally rested at its present position on the 19th.

Camden gives the following account: “near the conflux of Lug and the Wye, east, a hill which they call Marclay Hill did in the year 1575 rouse itself as it were out of sleep and for three days together shoving its prodigious body forward with a horrible roaring noise and overturning everything in its way, raised itself to the great astonishment of the beholders, to a higher place.

The place where this hill originally stood is now a chasm 40ft deep and 400ft in length. About 1840 during the ploughing of the site of the landslip at a place called “The Wonder” the bell of Old Kinnaston Chapel was unearthed and brought to Sir James Kyrle Money, Lord of the Manor, who placed it in the tower of Homme House, where it still hangs.

I particularly like the following quote from the book "The Natural History of Selborne", by Gilbert White (1720-93) who quotes the words of John Philips, describing how whole trees were uprooted and transported into neighbouring fields:

'I nor advise, nor reprehend the choice Of Marcley Hill; the apple nowhere finds A kinder mould; yet 'tis unsafe to trust Deceitful ground; who knows but that once more This mount may journey, and his present site Forsaken, to thy neighbour's bounds transfer Thy goodly plants, affording matter strange For law debates!'

In Victorian times people came from far and wide to view 'The Wonder'. It is shown on the Ordnance Survey map at reference SO6236.

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