Featuring many old and ancient trees, the orchards appear to bear witness to six or seven plantings during the last century. The oldest trees can be found near to the leaf mould heap, looking out over Lake Field. Popular in the 1920’s the varieties Blenheim Orange, Red McIntosh and Annie Elizabeth can be seen, forgotten varieties that will not be found in a UK supermarket. Visitors will note that these trees are approaching the end stage of their lives. Some of the trees tilt and slump; one is leaning on the fence, another supported by a wooden prop. This is acceptable behaviour at Waltham, for these trees are simply entering a different phase of life and will support an array of organisms as they begin to decay. All still bear fruit. Even when the root plate is exposed, they cling to life and productivity.
The orchard beside the Show Barn is also home to veteran trees popular in the 1920’s: ‘Beauty of Bath’ and ‘Newton Wonder’ are still standing tall. In recent years there have been a few losses. Though the limbs are tidied away the trunks are left at the orchard margin, allowing the tree to rot as nature intended, a home to many different invertebrate and fungus species reliant on dead wood. Many of the trees are crowned in mistletoe, a secondary crop used at Christmas time or harvested for medical research.