Spent today with the Colwall Orchards Group, doing some
mistletoe management. Colwall is a
village (actually a group of small hamlets – Upper Colwall, Colwall Green etc
etc) towards the south end of the Malvern Hills on the left-hand (western)
side. Which makes it just in
The orchards group there
is a relatively new one, who have been reviewing the state and status of
traditional orchards within their patch over the last year or so. Key figures in the group include Helen Stace of Natural
England, who spoke about their progress and plans for conservation and
management of their orchards at the Sheffield Orchards Conference back in
September (see previous blog entry).
Also from Natural England is Tim Dixon, who I last met many
many years ago on the Pocklington Canal – when he was being paid by English
Nature (as was) to make the case for the protected sites alongside and within
the highly biodiverse and then unrestored canal corridor and I was being paid
by British Waterways to (reluctantly) try to argue a case for restoration for
boats not doing any harm… Which is a
comforting reminder for me of why I resigned. We
agree not to dwell on past events, and talk about mistletoe instead…
Now, why manage mistletoe?
Isn’t it ‘rare’ and all that?
Well, no it’s not rare, not round here anyway. And rare or not, management is the best way to conserve it,
especially in apple orchards – which is what I spoke about at the Sheffield
conference (see comment above) in September.
So, today was a day of bashing mistletoe to help with
mistletoe and apple tree conservation.
The main difference between what we did today and most mistletoe work at
this time of year is that we pruned/cut out both male and female plants. This is fundamental to good mistletoe
management – most people these days just prune the female, as that has berries
and they can use it/sell it at Christmas – but doing that dooms the tree to becoming
more and more overgrown with the (relatively) valueless male plants – which is
not a good thing in the long term…
There’ll be more on this story (I hope) in the
press this season – but for now here’s a link to the paper (that outlines this
issue) I presented at the Sheffield Hallam conference on Orchards and Groves:
Their History, Ecology, Culture and Archaeology back in September.
And here are some pictures from today…