Species & overall report of Tehidy Bioblitz

Budding Nature Volunteer helping young people to identify beetles and other wildlife at the Tehidy BioBlitz

Read some excerpts below and follow the link to get the full report here:
Tehidy Bioblitz 2022 – Event Report

“A 24-hour BioBlitz event took place in Tehidy Country Park, running from midday on Friday 29 July to midday on Saturday 30 July 2022. The event was delivered jointly by Sally Luker and Derek Green from Budding Nature CIC and Michelle Lawson from Resilient Orchards Cornwall CIC, with support from Cornwall Council/Cormac and volunteers from Budding Nature. During the event, Tehidy Country Park Rangers Gavin Henderson and Stuart Croft (Cormac) and Charlotte Evans (Cornwall Council) were in attendance, as were Sally and Mark from Resilient Orchards CIC…”

Biological Reporting
“A total of 1045 records were made as a consequence of the Tehidy BioBlitz. These represent 465 taxa, with 331 records of 221 taxa being for the tetrad SW6343, and 714 of 370 taxa for the tetrad SW6443, with the majority of records being at a finer resolution. Overall, for the tetrad SW6343, 122 taxa are believed to have not been previously recorded, and for SW6443, 141 are taxa believed to have not been previously recorded. Taxa recorded mostly represent the focal efforts of the biological recorders present, as well as the given time restraints of a BioBlitz event. It is hoped to address gaps in groups recorded (notably bryophytes, lichens and fungi), and to re-survey for all invertebrates present via follow-up visits. Key recorders included Tylan Berry, Laura Fox, Derek Green, Frank Johns, Sally Luker, Martin Rule, John Worth with support from Phil Harris, Michelle Lawson, Rosie Lewis, Heidi Kirk-Mackrell (and her boys) and Andrew Tompsett. Records will be submitted to ERCCIS (Environmental Records Centre for Cornwall & the Isles of Scilly), ERICA database and iRecord…”

Tehidy BioBlitz 2022

Base camp at Tehidy Orchard on Friday

What a fantastic BioBlitz event at Tehidy Orchard and surrounding area!

A massive shout out to Budding Nature CIC and the amazing team of volunteer experts who helped us record species and teach people (including me – I learnt lots!) how to search for and I.D. different creatures and plants. Over 100 people, around half of them children, came to the 24 hour event on 29th and 30th July to join in, whether identifying species, learning from the experts, taking part in a nature walk, art activity, searching for spiders, or moth identification. Many of the core participants camped over night and stayed up late to catch the night-time creature activities.

This community BioBlitz event was made possible thanks to the Neighbourhood Fund grant from South West Water which was provided to Resilient Orchards Cornwall CIC. Traditional Orchards are designated priority habitats, and this project is part of our ongoing mission to raise awareness of the importance of orchards, not only as an important local food resource, but also for their amazing habitat value to local wildlife.

There are many people to thank including Sally & Derek from Budding Nature, Andy (Dunamic Dunsescapes) and Nick Taylor (Penwith Landscape Partnership) for loan of equipment; John and Frank (moths), Tylan (spiders) Sam, Jos, Heidi & family, Rosie, Laura, Abi, Martin (Birds), Tony (Cornish language in the Orchard!), Andrew for coming to talk about the orchard and it’s health, biodiversity and history, Vicki for leading an engaging art session on Saturday morning, Gavin and Stuart from Cormac for helping us with organisation and setting up and taking down, Charlotte from Cornwall Council for supporting the idea and helping us with permissions and organisation, the CN4C community group ‘Why Don’t you Club’ led by Rosi; Sally and Mark from Resilient Orchards Cornwall, Jen & Jowan and Dave, Frida and Tam, and not forgetting everyone else who came to join in and help us search for wildlife! And others I may have forgotten – apologies if I have missed you out.

The 24 hours started on Friday midday with a visit from The CN4C Why Don’t you Club where lots of families went searching for creatures alongside the experts using nets in bushes to find spiders and other creatures, magnifying glasses in the woods to find beetles and spiders, and pond dipping in the garden area, the older children and parents enjoyed learning about the different uses of various plants around the site too, from medicinal uses to edible uses.

A highlight for many was opening up the moth boxes early on Saturday morning that had been out all night to see which moths live there (over 70 species identified!), and other creatures including two rare spiders. There were huge numbers to work through including Buff tip moths (that look just like apple twigs!), magpie moths, Elephant hawk moth and Privet hawk moth.

Comments such as ‘my best day ever’ came from children plus adult participants who said they’d never visited the orchard before and had no idea it was even there.

The Bioblitz has raised the profile of the orchard at Tehidy and the emerging importance of this area of Tehidy Country Park. There will be a report detailing the species found plus an overview of biodiversity specifically within the orchard

We hope to go on to conduct further studies into Cornish orchards and learn more about how best to support the creatures that call it home. If you have any interesting studies on Cornish orchards we’d love to hear from you. Please email us on resilientorchardscornwall@gmail.com

Join the BioBlitz at Tehidy Orchard

There’s been a 74% loss of traditional orchards across the South West which was home to the largest area of orchards at the beginning of the 20th century. Traditional orchards are well known as fantastically biodiverse spaces and home to rare species partly due to the combination of tree spacing, grass and meadow between fruiting trees. Apple trees also have veteran features earlier than other trees creating gnarly trunks and holes for a diversity of habitats favoured by some species. We need to raise awareness of the importance of traditional orchards for protecting and enhancing biodiversity in our communities as well as for reducing food miles that negatively impact on our environment.

The goal of this Bioblitz project is to increase awareness of the biodiversity of orchards, improve monitoring and identification skills of the general public and get more people involved in community orchards. The project will use the 24hr bioblitz and resulting report as a template and springboard for further biodiversity research within Cornish orchards. The funding will pay for Budding Nature Cornwall- educational and science professionals – to organise, set up and deliver the bioblitz and produce a final report and Resilient Orchards Cornwall CIC to support and coordinate the event.

We aim that the impact of this project will increase knowledge and appreciation for local community orchards; public training and involvement in identification and monitoring of wildlife species; increased involvement in care for and knowledge about traditional orchards; introduce young people to caring for orchards and wildlife. The final report and record of species and biodiversity within this traditional orchard space will be vital evidence for future work on orchards in the area. The report will be disemminated to regional and national orchard, wildlife recording, and biodiversity organisations. It is hoped that any results contained in the report can then be acted on, to support particular species found or found missing. It will also help to kick start more research and sharing of results of biodiversity studies in Cornish orchards. We are also developing a Cornwall-wide Orchard Network, and an event like this and the promotion and dissemination of results will really aid us to do so.

Many thanks to South West Water Community Neighbourhood Fund for funding this project! More details about their scheme here:

Get involved in your local BioBlitz!

Over 24 hours 29/7 – 30/7 at Tehidy Country Park, based in and around the Orchard nr the Rangers Office

Delivered by the Budding Nature team and friends and supported by Resilient Orchards Cornwall & Cornwall Council

Join experts for a series of walks and activities and help us discover as much wildlife as we can in a single day.

Be an expert and see what you can find!

12 noon Friday 29th July until 12 noon Saturday 30th July

Including monitoring, recording, searching, discovering.More info to come, please save the date if you’re interested in coming along or getting involved. https://www.facebook.com/BuddingNature/?ref=page_internal

Summer pruning workshop at Kehelland Horticultural Trust

Why prune in Summer? Why in Winter? Have an overgrown espalier? – July and August is the time to prune espalier trees, when growth is starting to slow down. We will be working in the fantastic espalier orchards at Kehellend Horticultural Trust ‘s 16 acre site. Our aim will be to encourage fruit for next year, let light in for this years developing fruit, check for pests and disease and prune for general health of the tree. We will go through the principles of summer pruning, how it differs from winter pruning and you will hopefully go away more confident with how to look after your own fruit trees. This is the second of a series of orchard management workshops we are offering in partnership with Kehellend Horticultural Trust, so if you want to know more about and try out winter pruning, we hope to offer this again in Jan or Feb 2023.

Sunday 31st July
10.30am -3.30pm

For more information and to book on the workshop go to Kehellend Horticultural Trust website and links to their shop or follow this link. Do a search for ‘pruning’ or ‘workshops’.
Kehelland Trust Food Hub – Open Food Network

Wild apples Cornwall

Blooming wild apple tree in May near Redruth

Those of you who follow the online journal: Apples and People, may have read a recent article about the magnificent project ‘Some Interesting Apples’ that William Arnold and James Fergusson have been conducting the past few years. It’s fantastic to hear about them researching the wild apple trees that surround us, focusing mainly on the miner’s tracks around Redruth and Camborne.

Prior to the development and breeding work for commercial rootstocks, many apple tree growers would use chance seedlings around their farms and countryside to graft onto their chosen varieties. There is a lot to be said about this approach. You won’t end up with neat rows of apple trees all of the same size and breadth and vigour like some might aim for in their orchard. You may not know of the tree’s ability to resist certain plant diseases. But the use of wild seedling trees in particular, also of seed grown apples, can help ensure we are using a diverse range of genetics in our apple orchards that are continually adapting to the current climate and environmental changes.

Wild apple tree nr Hayle

I’ve been growing apple seeds for several years and similarly investigating how we can diversify our orchards. First by using seed grown apples both for alternate rootstock, but also just to experiment with what apples result. Seed grown trees are obviously much slower than grafted apple trees to reach fruit bearing age but with much more talk about and research into the importance of diversity and resilience in our local food crops there is an obvious concern to be had by all this focus on the same small number of rootstocks used by apple tree nurseries. Wild apple trees and the use of seedlings grown in the wild or by seed seems to be a good additional practice to help create more resilience in our orchards. The other approach is to add more ‘pitcher’ trees in our orchards, those grown on their own roots for example Cornish aromatic, Ben’s Red, Devonshire Quarrendon and Sweet Larks all have the capacity to grow from hard wood cuttings much like you do to propagate currant bushes or a rose bush.

Read more in the article above about how in America wild seedling trees were being used and harvested long ago by Johnny Appleseed, and then how William and James’s hugely useful research into our local wild apple trees and fruit can help us ensure a good genetic diversity for our apples into the future. They may also inspire you to check out your local apple trees, to go scrumping and taste the fruit and then maybe to graft your own variety taken from the wild.

The Orchard Network have a crab apple protect currently in process whereby wild and more formally planted crab apple trees are being logged, monitored and contributing to studies on this very subject.

Another study looking at distribution of wild apples – in particular crab apples Malus slyvestris rather than apples that are seedlings from discarded named apples – took place in Scotland and culiminated in the following write up: Scotland wild apples p21-29 wild apple ecology SF spring-summer 2020.pdf

Orchard abundance amongst the sand dunes at Towans Forest Garden

Raymond & Sylvia Yarwood were aware of what needed to be done to regreen Cornwall way before many of us. Towans Forest Garden is situated on one of Cornwall’s largest sand dune systems in Hayle, in no small way a challenging place to grow fruiting trees, shrubs, perennials and annuals. The garden is tested to the limits with the exposed strong and salty winds from the Atlantic, huge depths of sand underneath with very little topsoil and the prevalence of rabbits and snails – but that hasn’t stopped them!

The forest garden was started way back in 1982, taking inspiration from people such as Robert Hart, one of the pioneers of forest gardening. There is such a huge amount of knowledge in this garden and in Raymond and Sylvia who have managed and developed the site over the years. Not only the planting and growing, but the continuous harvesting, processing and use of the food that grows in the garden, whether it’s apple and autumn olive crumbles, juice and fruit leathers from sea buckthorn berries, or salads using an array of greens including sea radish, bladder campion, wild fennel and small leaved lime.

The template that has been created here is a fantastic inspiration for us all as we try to replicate the idea that we can rewild, re-populate with fruit trees and shrubs, and other tree, shrub and perennial crops in our own gardens – whatever the size – and community spaces using the forest garden & orchard approach. This focus on creating food forests for all will help us to create sustainable spaces and work towards access to food for everyone regardless of income. The approach will also ultimately help improve biodiversity and homes for wildlife.

The wisdom that this is the way forward from years previous is here seen quoted from the Towans Forest Garden website:

We have a significant area of dunes here in West Cornwall that could be restored by settling young people into forest gardens…there would be a degree of self sufficiency with suitable surpluses to develop new products.. With the popularity among employers of offering limited work contracts the original investment in these small farms would help to provide participants with a sense of future and also if extended to former mining waste areas of which we have many throughout Cornwall we should have the added advantage of re-greening the County.

Restoring the coastal forest, written by Raymond Yarwood Restoring the Coastal Forest (towansforestgarden.co.uk) accessed on 11.4.2022

I’ve been particularly interested in the various other top fruit that have been thriving here including Crataegus varieties such as schradiana and arnoldiana, to the many sea buckthorns, and the abundance of Eleaegnus species. Having such diversity of fruits, nuts and other plants and their products in our orchards will help maintain them as sustainable, resilient spaces. We need to experiment with growing new fruits, older fruits, fruits from different climates, all of this helps set us up for increased resilience but also, as Raymond says above, provides people with a sense of the future and a ‘degree of self sufficiency with suitable surpluses to develop new products’. What a great prospect!

Do check out the website for further information about this fantastic forest garden:
towansforestgarden.co.uk

Apple trees for the community

Apple trees for Tehidy

We’ve had a good first season of providing fruit trees for planting in public spaces. Some Cornish apple trees including ‘Cornish Gillyflower’ made there way to Tehidy Country Park as part of the Apple Tree event held on 25th February over Half Term and organised by Charlotte Evans, and rangers Gavin and Stuart all from Cormac. We heard from Tehidy volunteer Andrew Tompsett in the Orchard all about grafting and pruning apple trees and then went on to plant apple trees in the events field. More can be read about the event here.

Portreath Pre School also got in touch seeking advice on planting an apple tree in a container for the children to follow the seasons of the apple tree – from buds, to flowers and leaves opening and then, in time, to see the apples growing too. Fortunately, we had just the tree! The ‘Pendragon’ apple tree had been grafted two years ago from wood that came from a tree at St Ives Community Orchard. As the pre-school already had a resident dragon looking over the garden it was a perfect match. As it’s a couple of years old, hopefully it won’t be too long before they can see it fruiting. It’s an interesting variety as it’s got red flesh inside, so that will be an exciting surprise come harvest time!

Planting apple trees in suitably sized containers is fine if large enough and you have the ability to water them in dry periods. You’d think that a very dwarfing variety would be the natural choice, but as these have been bred and chosen for their ability to be restricted and smaller thus inducing earlier fruiting and less vegetative growth it means they’re already under stress and more stress in the form of less access to water in the ground, as is likely in a container, as well as restricted roots, this will just result in more stress and possibly failure of the tree. Therefore, choosing a more vigorous tree is considered more appropriate. We chose an M26 tree as this is what was available at the time, but we could have equally gone with an MM106. We added John Innes no. 3 to the existing soil and compost, using plenty of soil, rather than all compost is preferred as it’s less likely to dry out too quickly.

Most important will be watering during the growing season from when you see it come into growth until the end of the season and it returns to fill dormancy. Give the roots of the apple tree a good watering every two weeks, or more during very sunny or hot periods.

More information about growing apple trees in containers here.

Finally, we’ve also got some apple trees lined up for East End Park in Redruth, planted another apple tree along Primrose Terrace community garden in Portreath, and a few more will be going in public spaces too.

That brings us to the end of this tree planting season! Fingers crossed we have plenty of grafting success so we have more to plant next year.

What a productive start to the year! March Update

We led 4 x grafting workshops this year with 37 participants grafting and going home with at least 1 apple tree to care for and if successful – fingers crossed – plant in the Autumn. That’s 37 new apple trees to be planted!

Incredible Edible Helston invited us to their edible community garden to share the skills of grafting in an open community workshop. A full detailed write up can be found on the Helston Climate Action blog. A further session was held at Redruth Victoria Park, at Food Troops Community Kitchen and garden – do go and check out this wonderful new space.

We also grafted further apple trees to ensure a selection of sizes and varieties suitable for the Cornish climate ready for community orchards at the end of the growing season. Please get in touch if you want to order any trees for Autumn/Winter planting.

Some of the apple trees we grafted last year have been provided to local community groups and organisations including apple trees to Cormac Ltd for a Community Planting Event on 25th February at Tehidy Country Park; to Portreath Pre school where they planted a Pendragon red fleshed apple (!) and some are heading to Redruth East End Park for a community planting day taking place over the Easter holidays. 

Orcharding in the community – in numbers
10 apple trees planted by over 20 members of the community with more still to be planted
37 people learning grafting skills and taking home an apple tree
Over 30 more apple trees grafted and earmarked for community orchards for next Autumn
12 participants learning about pruning at an all day orchard pruning workshop and a further 6 participants at a community orcharding session
5 people learning pruning skills on the job whilst we provided general pruning services.
5 apple trees given away to be planted by individuals at home
That’s a pretty productive community orcharding period!

Orchard management services
We continue to provide general orchard management services to individuals or organisations including pruning, design and advice and have worked at a number of fascinating orchards over the past two months. 

Creating climate-resilient orchards
We’re also growing some other top fruit trees to help diversify our orchards in the coming years – Sorbus domestica or True Service trees have small to medium sized fruits – depending on the tree – which, similar to medlar fruits, need to be bletted before ready for use. Read more

Apple pressing in the community
Thanks to recent funding from local councillors we now have funds to purchase a community apple press which we plan to take out to community venues in Autumn – please get in touch if you’d like us to visit your group, school or organisation as we develop this project for Autumn 2022.

Community Orchards
We are building relationships with organisations who wish to plant orchards on their community grounds but need support with making it happen whether it’s advice, practical skills or trees. Please get in touch to chat about how we could support your project.

True Service trees (Sorbus domestica)

I’m very excited to be growing True Service trees from seed this year – my first seedlings are growing well. True Service trees grow very large and I’m more familiar with them in London, at St Ann’s Hospital site in Tottenham where there are some amazing mature trees with huge amounts of fruit, usually left to rot on the ground. However, they apparently also thrive in Cornwall and one seemingly wild tree was found on a cliff edge on the Upper Camel Estuary according to references found and shown on the Rowans, Whitebeams and Service Trees blog. The trees have self seeded close to the site in Tottenham and also some seedling trees from seed from the site have been planted in orchards close by including Lordship Rec Orchard, Tottenham. The fact that they seem so easy to grow from seed led me to give it a try this year too, so I got to eat the yummy soft bletted fruit and use the seed too.

Thanks to some long standing community fruit enthusiasts and harvesters Urban Harvest working around north London, these True Service Trees are now a little more known in the area, and celebrated, though still the fruit remains largely unharvested on the floor and generally is quite rare and planted as an ornamental. Thanks to Gemma, from Urban Harvest UK, for championing these fruits and trees and also maintaining really useful resources about the sorb fruits from 2010 on their now defunct, but extremely useful website.

Whilst they’ve been on my radar for a while I’ve only just got around to growing some from seed which I hope to plant out in Cornish orchards in future years.

The True Service tree, Sorbus domestica, is also known as whitty pear, or sorb tree. The fruit needs to be ‘bletted’, like medlar fruit, and is soft and delicious to eat. It can apparently be cooked into a nice syrup too, see the link below.

Do you grow True Service trees in Cornwall? Have you come across any wild ones? Use the fruit? – please get in touch!

Useful resources from Urban Harvest UK website:
Making syrup from ripe (bletted) sorbs
Comparison of the sorb fruits from 15 different trees at St Ann’s Hospital site, Tottenham, N17

Grafting Workshops March 2022

Redruth
Location: Food Troops Community Kitchen & Garden at Victoria Park, Redruth (the horticultural greenhouses behind the bowling green)

Monday 14th March 10am-1200

Follow link to book, or contact us to pay by cash on the day
Make your own apple trees: Bench Grafting Tickets, Mon 14 Mar 2022 at 10:00 | Eventbrite

Learn the traditional skill of fruit tree grafting used to propagate fruit trees. You’ll have plenty of chance to practice a few different grafting methods and go home with your own grafted apple tree. We’ll have a couple of rootstock sizes to choose from.

Please bring your own secateurs if you have them.
£5 for all participants including take away apple tree.

Thank you for the support from Redruth Town Council for the funding, and Food Troops CIC for collaborating on this workshop and the use of the workshop space; and also Cormac Ltd who manage the space.

More info and to book a place.