A look at our traditional orchards

A look at our traditional orchards


Posted 30th May 2018


The entirely man-made habitat that is the traditional orchard will be completely reliant on us to exist and thrive

Charities such as People's Trust for Endangered Species naturally care about biodiversity, wildlife, and habitats, yet when it comes to orchards, thinking only in terms of wildlife would neglect their intended use.

Traditional orchards will come in all manner of shapes and sizes. The cider apple orchards of the western counties and Wales will be a far cry from the typical family orchard that is attached to farmhouses across the country, and in turn, these bear little resemblance to the cobnut plats of Kent. However, each will be important in its own way for the people who use them, cultural heritage, their place in the landscape, and the wildlife they support.

Orchard owners have said they need help with managing their orchards. While looking after old fruit trees may seem daunting so an online guide has been produced by PTES, which includes videos and tutorials about a range of subjects which range from grafting new trees, planting an orchard and pruning young trees to identifying fruit and harvesting a crop.


Image courtesy of Steve Oram

The 'year in our orchard' provides a month by month guide to orchard tasks and a seasonal orchard wildlife spotting guide. To find out which fruit varieties are local to you and where you can get them, simply use the PTES' Fruitfinder, to search by fruit, regional or county provenance, or culinary use.

Community orchards are one of the few growth areas for the traditional orchards. Green is the new black when it comes to public open space and recreation, something which developers have noticed.

Larger developments will now be furnished with an orchard, offering a public greenspace and meeting biodiversity requirements. The PTES map of community orchards has over 900 sites across the UK.

20th October each year marks Apple Day, which are becoming widely popular with more events each year, happening all over the country. Some are small affairs, while others are more akin to a mini-festival.

The official traditional orchard habitat inventory has been created by the PTES, which will be updated with additions or sadly, removing orchards, as and when the information comes in. You can contribute to this dataset by surveying orchards here.

If you are aware of a threatened traditional orchard, or any wildlife rich area, the Planning Toolkit will help you to protect it.

Photos: PTES / Megan Gimber





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