Tag Archives: Orchard Work

Planting of a native hedge

The guys at Haddon Copse Farm want to re-establish the hedgerows that have been grubbed out over the past few decades and asked me to do some planting for them.

Spraying the grass with weedkiller wouldn’t be appropriate as they’re certified organic. So I suggested that I rotovate where the hedge is to be planted which would have multiple benefit: the grass would be knocked back so it wouldn’t be able to compete so well with the young hedging plants and the soil structure would be improved allowing the hedges roots to establish quickly. We would then mulch with composted woodchip to suppress grass and weed growth.

Unfortunately it has been so wet this winter (in case you hadn’t noticed) that there hasn’t been the opportunity to rotovate – it would have turned the soil into a soup! And they took delivery of the whips at the farm a fair few weeks ago now, with the warm weather they are starting to shoot. So the decision was made to get them into the ground straight away.

First we strimmed where the hedge is going to take the grass right down (which had already been quite well grazed). Then, rather than just shoving the whips into slits,

Whip planting method.

Whip planting method.

Emma dug out a small spit for each whip. This broke up the soil structure where the whip was planted and also allowed the planted whip’s roots to spread out before the removed soil was carefully replaced and gently pressed back in with a toe of a boot.

We planted with the provided species which were: 50% Hawthorne; the rest were equal quantities of Hazel, Dogwood, Field Maple, Blackthorn… and I am sure there are one or two I’ve missed. There is also a quantity of wild rose to plant and we will return to plant these when the rest of the hedges are

Drift planting

Drift planting

planted as I don’t want to split the pack until we’re ready for them all to go in the ground to save the potential for the roots to dry out on the unplanted whips(!)

I opted to plant in drifts rather than purely random to create a more striking hedge – having drifts of 5, 7 or more Blackthorns together will mean a more vibrant display of their late spring blossom.

The other thing I took account of was the soil conditions. In areas the soil was still really waterlogged, if drying quite well in others. In the wettest areas I concentrated the dogwood planting as they do like their feet in water.

So after a relatively slow start as we worked out a system we really got into the planting with Emma doing all the hard work digging the holes and me putting on the rabbit guards, planting the whips, toeing them in and sticking in a supporting cane.

We finished planting just under eighty metres on a double staggered row as the sun went down and treated us to the most beautiful sunset. That’s around three hundred plants in a day (we were too knackered to count them). Now we’ve just got to wait a few years until we can lay it!


A couple of beautiful days in Rosie’s cider orchard

Arisings ready for collection.
Oak in a cider orchard

Oak and walnut trees in Rosie’s cider orchard.

I’ve previously spent a considerable amount of time in Rosie’s cider orchard but the past two days have been the most enjoyable yet. Lovely fresh early winter days, hard work to keep the body warm, wonderful views (as ever) and some very special company – thanks for being there Emma..!

We started on Monday staking a fairly mature Kingston Black tree which had fallen to a jaunty angle due to the weight of the crop this year, as it had blocked one of the access tracks. It took a helluva heave to get it upright but we managed between the two of us – me pushing it up and Emma tying it to the stake.

A couple of dead trees needed removing so they were felled and logged.

We went to start on the main task of cutting back the boundary hedge – a very mature field hedge that wants to encroach on the orchard. It was nearly the end of the day so we made a quick start before tidying up.

Back on the hedge yesterday. We had 85 metres cut by coffee time, cleared and burnt by lunch. It was quite heavy going because as well as the clipping there were a couple of dead trees covered in ivy that had fallen out of the hedgeline. After lunch another 80 metres of lighter clipping was cut, cleared and burnt as it was getting dark.




As the dark closed in we finished the day helping Rosie gather the last of her Porter’s Perfection cider apples.