Our Community Orchard and Wildflower Meadow is situated at the eastern end of the North Common, which was designated as a Local Nature Conservation Site in 2023, in recognition of its importance as a unique and precious habitat for native flora and fauna.
The Orchard was established in 2012, when the first trees were planted by Thornhill Primary School. A second planting, again assisted by the school children, followed in 2015.
We now have a total of 32 trees, comprising 16 varieties of apple, 2 varieties of plum, 1 damson and 1 ornamental crab apple, as well as 5 native crab apple trees which were planted in 2021. The fruit produced is for everyone in the village to enjoy.
Around the trees, a natural wildflower meadow is evolving, with many native species appearing spontaneously, offering nectar for bees, butterflies and other insects throughout the summer.
In some seasons, orchids have been found in flower, and we hope that with careful management of the area, these precious plants may multiply.
As well as looking after the fruit trees and hedges, we aim to preserve and enhance the biodiversity of the area, by following the management plan detailed in the Habitat Management Plan for the North Common, written by Matt Harding as a result of his Habitat Survey in 2020.
As recommended in Matt’s plan, we are now sowing Yellow Rattle around the trees every winter. This native wildflower is a semi-parasite of coarse grasses. Its presence weakens these grasses and favours the finer ones, thus allowing more space for wildflowers to germinate, bloom and set seed.
In 2023, members of TCT Biodiversity Group and Thornhill Primary School pupils, planted a mixed native hedgerow along the northern and eastern boundaries of the Orchard. This will eventually provide blossom, nesting sites, berries, fruits and nuts for insects and birds.
A small group of keen volunteers is making good progress with the upkeep of the Orchard, but more people are always welcome to join us. We aim to meet and work together on the third Sunday of the month, throughout the year – there is work to be done in every season! No specialist knowledge or experience is needed – we are all learning together. Many hands make light work, and the fruits of our labour are certainly very delicious!
If you would like to know more and would like to join us, please email Jill Stott at email@example.com. Thank you.