Tuesday, 4 June 2013

Mansbridge Community Orchard Blossom Walk

The Blossom Walk, through Mansbridge Community Orchard was a great success. It was announced at pretty short notice but plenty of people still turned up and the weather was as good as we could have wished for. Mayflies were flapping lazily over the river and sparrows were flitting out to grab them for tea.
We met on the old stone bridge over the Itchen River. While we were waiting for walkers, we spotted several interesting birds, including a Sparrow-hawk and a Hobby, scanning for prey. On the river we saw a pair of geese with goslings.
We had friends and representatives from many interested parties and volunteers. The Woodcraft Folk have taken a very active interest in the orchard since the outset and have mapped the area and organised a very successful Apple Day event last year. Local photographer Bob Painton was on hand too, with his big lens.
After a leisurely catch up chat with everyone on the bridge, we soon set off and cut through, into Mansbridge Meadow. We then breached the deer barrier and crossed into the fen area alongside the river.
The blossom on the apple trees made them very easy to spot, some were more accessible than others but all of them looked quite splendid. I recommend exploring the area, even if you were unable to attend the official walk. Sometimes, when you get deeper into the woods, it is hard to believe that you are still in Southampton but of course, we were here to check out the fruit trees.
So far this year we have been spending our time keeping brambles and ivy out of the apple trees.  Now, with the help of the bloom we can see even more trees, which we had overlooked previously. Hopefully, we will have a good crop of fruit this year and after the harvest, we can get on with the business of pruning some of the trees.
Several volunteers offered to help with this on-going work and this has been facilitated by a grant from the Airport Community Fund, with which we are buying more tools. The pruning work will increase the amount of light that enters the canopy and improve air circulation, which will help prevent disease and improve productivity.

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