The community orchard planted in Ladywell Fields in 2011 is thriving, but like any orchard, it needs care and attention if the trees are to grow strongly and avoid disease. This is one of the Friends twice yearly volunteer sessions at which you can learn and help prune the trees, inspect and repair the guards, and mulch the trees with woodchip to keep the weeds down.
If you do come and you have any of the following, please bring them; thick gloves, sharp secateurs and garden buckets. Also at the risk of stating the obvious, please come in work clothes and robust shoes!
Pruning requires dry weather, so if it is raining, they will need to reschedule.
Meet in the Park at the end of Malyons Road, close to the Adventure Playground and curly railway bridge. Come suitably dressed – though Thames 21 will provide waders/boots and other equipment and will give a short safety talk beforehand. No children under 12 unless supervised by a responsible adult.
Thames 21 and the Friends of Ladywell Fields are holding a river clean up on Sunday 13th December from 10am-1pm. They will be meeting by the 10,000 Hands Cafe in the northern field at 10am. Come along for some wet fun!
IONA CLOSE ORCHARD is a wonderful pocket of undisturbed wildlife in the heart of Catford (behind Bournville Road) – but it will deteriorate quickly if not carefully looked-after. It remains quite overgrown, but retains some fine old fruit trees. In common with most old orchards, the site is of high nature conservation value.
A diverse group of local people of all ages has already been involved in efforts to restore this ancient orchard – and the London Orchard Project has helped plant some new fruit trees. There is a lot of enthusiasm about keeping this project going and safeguarding the site and its conservation value.
But to encourage these voluntary efforts, some more, quite modest, funding is needed. We’re asking for £1,500 and with this we will run four volunteer sessions in 2014 and will: complete some essential tree works to make the site safe and improve wildlife habitat; buy a secure tool store and a few key tools for volunteering sessions; and buy some saplings and more fruit trees to plant.
At least 50 local people will, we expect, be directly involved in one or more of these four volunteering sessions. However the beneficiaries in the longer term will be a much wider group than this.
For example, when the site is clear of rubbish and safe, probably as soon as September 2014, it can be made available as an ‘outdoor classroom’ for local schools.
PLEASE SUPPORT LOCAL PEOPLE TAKING THE INITIATIVE!
Iona Close Orchard is a fascinating relic of a Victorian garden. The houses to which it originally belonged date to about 1825. Hidden away behind a few mature ash and Norway maple trees are several fine old fruit trees, apples, pears, plums and a mulberry. Although it has become has become overgrow, it has remained largely undisturbed, and is therefore a haven for wildlife. Old orchards are generally of high nature conservation value and there is concern that they may disappear. There are a number of uncommon invertebrates which specialise in feeding on dead wood or sap runs on fruit trees. Fruit and nectar also provide food for other foraging insects and birds.
There is a need to carry out basic vegetation management to enable access so that a restoration project is possible. Some of the existing trees are crowded out by others and need to be removed to make space. Therefore, the restoration would involve establishing an access path and then the selective removal of some trees and scrub to favour identified fruit trees. The project will look to enhance the fruit stock by appropriate additional planting.
So thanks to a successful bid to the Mayor’s Fund work has started on turning this old site in to a viable orchard. On Thursday 3 November the Ladywell Fields User Group along with volunteers from Nature’s Gymset to work clearing the site to allow access for the initial tree works. This is the first of a number of volunteer sessions that will seek to improve the site as a nature reserve, in accordance with the Council Ecology Officer’s management plan for the site. For example the old fruit trees need considerable maintenance (some may need professional felling), a simple fence needs to be erected, and a pathway around the site needs to be laid/built.
Join Thames 21 and the Friends of Ladywell Fields for a river clean up on Sunday 30 Oct 10am-1pm. They will be meeting at the cafe in the north field. Gloves and waders will be provided. Please arrive prompty so as not to miss the important safety talk.