Farming

The Orchards

Divider
The orchards at Waltham Place are situated to the south /south east of the Kitchen Garden and comprise around 105 fruit trees of which the majority are apples.

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.

The carpark field is home to some younger trees alongside the old: Sunset, Jupiter, Edward Vl, Sturmer Pippin. Lacking the height of some of the older trees these are ideal for school groups to visit. The orchards provide a superb educational resource; their blossom, fruits and windfalls illustrating the whole story of the yearly lifecycle of an apple tree and the animals and invertebrates that coexist with them. In Spring, a lesson on pollination as bumble bees and others visit the sweet pink and white blossoms, in September, a hunt for the tufted green caterpillars of pale tussock moths. As Autumn unfolds, the windfalls are collected and used for apple pressing by the school groups or taken for processing into delicious apple juice for the farm shop.

The orchards are also home to plums, damsons, pears, quince, greengages and an ancient mulberry bush. Their crop provides essential ingredients for the chef, who creates a range of rich jewel-coloured jams and chutneys for the farm shop and bottled fruits and desserts for the main house.

Visit our farm shop

Fresh produce from June through to December

Deliciously different, our biodynamic and organic ethos means that everything you buy will have been produced here at Waltham without the use of chemical fertilizers or pesticides.
shop now