Barnwood Park and Arboretum

The Orchard

The Orchard September 2021

The Orchard is the area on the left as you enter the Park from Cherston Court. It is bordered by the brook on one side and the edge of the Park on the other. It was originally the orchard of Barnwood House Hospital and you can see the remains of two of the pear trees at the far end.

In 2009 we planted some local varieties of apple trees here as part of the BBC’s Tree O’Clock national tree planting campaign. In the following years, and with the support and encouragement of Gloucester City Council, we began work to turn the grassland around the trees into a perennial wildflower meadow. We started by sowing Yellow Rattle in one area in the early autumn. Yellow Rattle is an annual wildflower that requires winter cold followed by warmer spring temperatures to germinate and it is semi-parasitic on grass. Reducing the vigour of the grass helps to create the right conditions for wildflowers, that thrive in poorer soils, to grow. Our aim is not to eliminate the grass, as there is an interesting mix of grasses and these are also important for insects, but to encourage a mix. 

Over the years we have continued to sow Yellow Rattle in other areas and introduced wildflower plants (grown from seed) such as Black Knapweed, Field Scabious, Oxeye Daisy, Red Campion, St Johns Wort, Meadow Cranesbill and Toadflax. The grass is cut and collected by the council contractor in late summer as any cut grass left behind would break down and enrich the soil. Increased fertility would favour grass growth rather than wildflowers.

Wildflower meadows are important for biodiversity and increasing habitat for insects, birds and small mammals. In warmer temperatures pipistrelle bats can often be seen flying over this area at dusk.

Make a free website with Yola