The Orchard (St.Mary's Field)
some background & history
The Orchard acts as a repository for rare and locally successful tree varieties that have survived the test of time and often years of neglect. The Symondsbury Apple Project's Heritage Orchard Year, which began in September 2004, has so far brought to light significant orchard sites and apple varieties. Local research groups are investigating apple-growing history in their own parishes and projects. More information is available here: https://ptes.org/campaigns/traditional-orchard-project/orchard-network/info-by-region/dorset/

The Orchard began in January 2009 with the planting of 23 half standard apple trees. The second planting, in February 2010, brought the total number of fruit trees to 58. There are 47 different named varieties: 35 half standards, 16 apple cordons, 4 espaliers (1 apple and 3 pears), 2 gage fans, a black mulberry and a quince.
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April 2016 - Bryanston Gage in blossom for the first time!
A list of all the trees in the orchard, plus those at Jubilee Green, with their uses and origins, can be found here (.pdf file, 4 pages)
Half standard trees grow to about 15ft in span and about 10ft high. It takes approximately 4-5 years for the trees to fruit and 15-20 years for them to mature.  They will have a life span of 60-80 years.    
 
A 70-metre hedge was planted as part of the first day of action in January 2009. It forms a boundary between the orchard and the allotments. We wanted to make the hedge work hard for us so it is primarily native traditional hedge plants with extra wildlife-friendly fruits and cultivar varieties of edible soft fruits. The hedge was laid in the traditional way - Southern Counties style - in February 2015. (For an illustrated report of the hedge laying, please click here).
We planted: Hawthorn, Blackthorn, Hazel, Field Maple , Dog Rose, Guelder Rose, Wild Cherry, Crab Apple, Holly, Rowan, Raspberry, Redcurrant and Blackcurrant - 350 plants in all, in two staggered rows, 20cm apart with plants at 40cm intervals in each row; that was the theory, but measurements using hand-spans, and other forms of creative interpretation, helped to ensure that the hedge itself symbolises the diversity of the people of Bridport!
The long grass underneath the hedge is home to slow worms, small mammals and insects. New Woodland Trust hedging trees (whips) were planted January 2014.
Spring bulbs and wild flower seeds were sown in the meadow in 2010.  Click here to read a short report prepared by Nick Gray, DWT, in July 2013, on grass management in the wildflower area.

The ground cover within the main orchard is being left as a meadow, with mown pathways and a central circle for events.
The pathways and the circle are maintained by Bridport Town Council; the meadow grass will be scythed twice yearly by BCOG volunteers.
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The result of a soil test registered a pH of 6 (the soil is very fertile). This provided a good starting point from which we have formulated our plans for the improvement of habitat, encouragement of the growth of wild flowers and greater biodiversity.

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