Rain, mud and heritage fruit trees.

Rain, mud and heritage fruit trees.
December 5, 2012 Adrian Walters

All the cattle were removed to winter quarters by mid November and this was very much in line with previous years. The access improvements near the Mill Hotel made the removal from Freemen’s Commons much more efficient and resolved the issues of inconvenience and mess to the mill race footpath users so it was money well spent. Continuing rainfall, however, has led to very muddy conditions on the pastures particularly where people and cattle converge on ditch culverts. This is to be expected in the unprecedented wet conditions and especially so on a river floodplain. In spite of the current conditions it is not unusual to see people trying to tip-toe over the saturated meadows in totally unsuitable footwear. A pair of welly boots would certainly be a useful asset for such conditions.

One positive as a result of the excessive rainfall is the wonderful show of fungi of all shapes, colours and sizes. Whilst the fungal world includes thousands of species and many are difficult for the casual observer to identify, it is still possible to appreciate their amazing displays when and where they almost magically spring out of the grassland or from rotting dead wood habitat piles. They serve to demonstrate the importance for wildlife of what is always perceived to be untidiness. Even the recent King’s Marsh fire site, for which the charity has been criticised for its untidiness will eventually provide a useful and interesting habitat for fungi and in the meantime it is hurting no one.

The charity recently led the second phase of the ‘Heritage Orchard’ planting in Cornard Country Park. Riverside Projects Team volunteers assisted children from Wells Hall Primary  school with the planting of local Suffolk pear and apple varieties. The purpose of the orchard is to help safeguard these old varieties that have long fallen from favour and to prevent their complete loss from the landscape. The country park is an ideal place to establish such an orchard not only because the land will remain in public ownership but also for the perfect site it offers on the gentle slopes of the Stour Valley. At present one can but imagine the spring-time beauty of this orchard once it matures. The scheme is promoted by the Suffolk Traditional Orchards Project. The apple and pear trees complement the cherry trees that were planted last year and it is expected that further planting will take place next autumn.