Gerry Edwards Orchard Services has been very active over the last four years with perhaps one major orchard restoration standing out -
Crookham Orchard, near Farnborough in Hampshire previously known as the Ghurka Orchard
This orchard had been planted to commemorate each brave Ghurka that had died in battle but unfortunately the orchard had become rather overgrown after the Ghurka Barracks was closed. The orchard has been protected by virtue of a Planning Agreement and in March 2012 the restoration process commenced. The work was undertaken on behalf of Crookham Parish Council.
The first two pictures show the orchard before restoration -
The second two pictures show the orchard after initial restoration in March 2012 -
These trees needed lightly pruning again in February/March 2013 as well as planting five new trees to replace an original five which had perished during the period of neglect.
The restoration was extensive and the picture above gives an idea of how much wood was taken out of the orchard!
We returned to the site in late November 2012 for a visual inspection in preparation for Phase 2 of the restoration which would take place in February/March 2013. The trees had grown very well as can be seen in the following pictures -
At the end of February 2013 we returned to the site to undertake a late winter prune. It was very heartening to see that all of the trees had survived a difficult winter period and some had grown very well. This winter prune removed all dead and dying wood as well as cutting back any unnecessary new growth. Additionally five new trees were planted as planned.
In September 2013 we again returned to the orchard to review the growth of the trees since the work undertaken in February 2013. It was good to see that all of the trees had responded well to the winter prune and were growing well. It was heartening to see that a number of trees were carrying a good crop of fruit.
In February 2014 we returned again for the late winter prune and it was good to see the trees were still in a good condition and protected from the site development.
We decided to have a good look at blossoming time in Spring 2014 and were delighted to see how well the trees had responded to the winter prune.
We returned in September 2014 to discover that all of the trees had cropped very well. Our final work in the orchard was a prune undertaken in February 2015 before the orchard was handed over to Crookham Parish Council and who intend to manage the orchard themselves. Fingers crossed that it stays well maintained!
Other major works include a considerable number of garden fruit tree restorations, working with the London Orchard Project in terms of variety mapping in old orchards across London, training volunteers in restoration techniques and advising on orchard restoration and the restoration of two further orchards albeit on a smaller scale!. We have also planted a new orchard - and extending it each year (!) - at a care home in Maidenhead, Berkshire and will be maintaining it during its early years. This was a very exciting project as we were asked to only plant apples and pears that were bred in Berkshire or had very strong local contacts..
We were then asked to design a new orchard in Bray, near Maidenhead. This new orchard was for Alain Roux, who is the proprietor of the Waterside Inn in Bray, and the resulting fruit will be used in the restaurant. A large collection of various fruits were planted including apples, pears, peaches, nectarines, Cherries, plums, gages, almonds, cobnuts and a walnut.