The orchard at Shand0n Farm, home of Appletree Cottage was in full bloom last week.
The trees - the oldest of which were planted six years ago grow bigger every year.
Despite the mild winter the blossom on the trees is quite amazing
There are three orchard areas - the main orchard planted in March 2014, the western orchard planted a year later and the paddock orchard planted in 2018 & 2019. The western orchard is the closest to the cottage and was successfully added to last year.
Creating a wind break
One of the first things we did, at the same time as planting the main orchard was to also put in a wind break. For this we chose Willow and Hornbeam. The willow, which went in as pencil sized sticks can be seen on the left of the picture below. Hasn't it grown!
In all we have planted 48 varieties - many of them Scottish. Some are surprised to discover that there was a lot of apple growing in Scotland - particularly in the Clyde Valley, Lothian and Fife. When the supermarkets became popular and centralised their distribution Scottish apples didn't fare so well - partly because they bruised in transit. Many orchards were grubbed up in the 1950's - 1970's. Recently there have been revivals of the old Scottish varieties and orchards are being planted across the land - albeit on a relatively small scale. Below is one of the excellent Scottish strains - Beauty of Moray. This apple, although a cooker produces a beautiful crisp clear juice which we bottle, pastuerise and sell locally.
The eastern or paddock orchard was planted in 2018 and 2019. By way of variation we planted the centre of this area on the same mm106 rootstock as the main orchard but the peripheral rows are on mm9, less vigorous stock with the trees closer together.
Over by Appletree (luxury self catering cottage for 8 people) is the western orchard. This was planted in 2016, much of it on what was a former stock yard. The soil here is not as good as the other areas so the trees have required more feeding. Drainage was also initially a problem but works undertaken over the intervening period have alleviated the situation.
In this area we have also planted blueberries, cherry and plum trees.
In total we have planted 350 trees. With all this blossom our fingers are crossed for a good harvest this year!