The window of opportunity for planting bare root fruit trees was rapidly closing, so we took the opportunity to plant the orchard. After all the hard work of leveling the ground, planting a few trees seemed like child’s play. Each child had been given a tree for their Christmas present so they were eager to help! The trees were sourced from several places, including 3 from the Sheffield Abundance project, who specialise in propagating varieties that are proven to do well in Sheffield.
After extensive research in to rights and rituals, we unearthed information about the tradition of Wassailing. Commonly associated with Twelfth Night (12 days after Christmas), the consumption of mulled-cider formed part of a blessing of the orchard and singing to the trees in anticipation of a good harvest the following Autumn. We adapted this custom to ‘awake’ our fruit trees in the establishment of the orchard. We’re not sure that the kids understood why they put toast dipped in cider in to the trees, but they certainly had fun. We finished off the event with several renditions of ‘if you’re apple and you know it’!
Apples are everybody’s favourites and the trees are predominantly eaters – both traditional and new varieties. A selection of pear, cherry and plum trees were also planted.
All of the trees are of semi-dwarf rootstock, so that we won’t need a ladder to pick them! After some careful pruning and TLC, all that remains is for us to sow the grass seed and plant the English Bluebells to enjoy in the near future.