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Pink Orchards

My next FT piece came out this weekend - on the joys of half-forgotten fruit. Forgive me being rather one track minded of late, but I'm knee deep in processing fruit tree orders... I hope I did enough in the article to persuade some people to start their own small orchard, but unfortunately there wasn't enough space to rattle on about the biodiversity value of a traditional orchard. What is a “traditional orchard”? It’s a group of standard sized trees – as opposed to trees grafted onto dwarfing rootstocks – planted on permanent grassland. They're now on the list of Priority Habitats under the UK Biodiversity Action Plan (BAP), as old trees and associated grassland make for an enormously rich ecosystem. Most of our fruit trees are relatively short lived, and dead and decaying wood means not only all sorts of fungi, but also invertebrates, and refuges for birdlife. The birds enjoy the insects and fruit too, on which late season butterflies also feed as it starts to rot. In the spring, the blossom attracts a host of other pollinating insects, who will also prosper in the rich understorey of wildflowers and grasses.