Marlborough Community Orchard was started by a group of determined volunteers with a vision of a town among the trees. They wanted to do something about the decline in native orchards over the past 50 years and to make Marlborough a better place to live. They gained the support of local people, community groups and businesses; raising funds for trees and identifying sites for planting. In 2010 the first trees were planted as small whips in the Jubilee Gardens and today there are nearly 100 mature trees throughout the town for everyone to enjoy.
Enjoying the Orchard
Trees support our wellbeing and connect us to nature. Marlborough’s trees have beautiful blossom in early Spring when you may spot bees and other pollinators enjoying this too. Their leaves gradually unfurl providing shade and a place to sit, read a book, draw or have a picnic in the heat of summer. This is followed by fruit which ripens by the autumn and is there for anyone to pick and use. The community orchard includes apples, plums, damsons and medlars with some varieties for eating and others for cooking.
Each tree has a label with the type and we hope to put up information signs. At the moment we are planting wildflowers at the Diamond Jubilee Plantation which has 25 trees to add nectar for pollinators and encourage wildlife. We are developing an Orchard Walk leaflet (available soon) and also run events such as wassails and apple pressings which are open to everyone and publicised on our website www.transitionmarlborough.org.uk.
Our next event is on 12th September. We will walk around 8 of the community orchard sites to the main planting at the Diamond Jubilee Plantation on the Common, Free’s Avenue. Once there we will plant yellow rattle plugs which will reduce the grass and prepare the area for wild flowers next year. We will then finish with a picnic. Everyone is welcome (please bring your own picnic). To join the walk, meet at the Roebuck Inn car park for 11am. This should take approximately 1 hour and so we will be at the Common by midday for plug planting. If it rains heavily, the event will be postponed until the following Sunday.
Where is Marlborough Community Orchard?
1. The Diamond Jubilee Plantation is at the heart of the community orchard where most of the trees are ancient Wiltshire apple varieties which, along with many of England’s native fruit trees are in danger of being forgotten, due to the pressures of the commercial apple market. It is a quiet spot at the top of Kingsbury Street with plenty of space for a picnic or games where you can see Wiltshire’s oldest varieties of fruit trees, with one over 200 years old.
- Bedwyn Beauty – grown by Mr Stone of Great Bedwyn in about 1890
- Burn’s Seeding – raised by the head gardener at Tottenham Park in 1831
- Celt – grown by David Harris of Melksham in 1943 during WW11
- Chorister Boy – found in a garden near Salisbury around 1890
- Corsley Pippin – a sweet golden apple originating around 1905 from trees planted at Corsley School, near Longleat
- Dredge’s Fame – Wiltshire’s oldest recorded apple dating back to 1802 and grown by nurseryman William Dredge of Wishford, Salisbury
- Julia’s Late Golden – a newer variety found near Codford St Peter’s, Warminster in 2001
- Mary Barnett – planted as a pip by Mary Barnett on her wedding day in 1920
- Roundway Magnum Bonum – bred by Mr Joy, head gardener of Roundway Park, Devizes in 1864
- Wiltshire Monster – raised by William Turner in Worton, Devizes around 1900. The apple kept well helping people to survive the winter when less food was available
! There is also a mulberry tree cloned from the national collection at Buckingham Palace. Mulberry trees can live for 400 years.
2. Wye House Garden, Barn Street is just off the town centre and beautifully kept with flowers, a pond, lawns and toddler’s play area. It includes 12 community orchard trees and is open from 9am until dusk.
3. Priory Gardens behind the High Street are a lovely stopping point. They are bordered by the River Kennet where you can often see wildlife. There is plenty of seating and 6 community orchard trees.
4. Roger’s Meadow has an orchard of 17 trees.
5. Waitrose car park – check out the espaliered trees of Marlborough Community Orchard along the wall as you do your shopping.
There are also a number of smaller sites:
- Jubilee Field, Manton – 6 trees
- Morris Road (Dando Drive and Sorley Close) – 5 trees
- Reed’s Ground, opposite TH White’s in London Road – 2 trees
- St Mary’s Churchyard – 4 trees
- St Peter’s Churchyard – 3 trees
How can I get involved?
We welcome volunteers to help us look after the orchard trees at events such as a bulb and tree plantings and with seasonal jobs. Each Spring we check and mulch the trees to encourage their growth. Later in the year we prune (instructions given on the day), thin the fruit and harvest it. We are also looking for volunteers to ‘befriend’ trees in their area, carry out the above jobs and let us know of any problems such as a broken branch.
If you are interested in volunteering, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Marlborough Community Orchard is now overseen by Transition Marlborough. As well as caring for the trees we are actively enhancing the Diamond Jubilee Plantation for biodiversity where the site is under our direct management. We have reduced mowing which benefits both insects and the wildlife that preys upon them and are planting wildflowers to provide food for pollinating inspects in early spring and late autumn when other sources are less available.
We also plan to improve signs and encourage enjoyment of Marlborough Community Orchard through a town trail leaflet and fruit themed events, and to plant more trees in the future.
A big thanks to all those who have sponsored trees in the Orchard. If you would like to sponsor a tree, perhaps to remember a special event or person, please contact email@example.com.
- For Helene Bailey in memoriam
- Edwina Fogg
- Jeffrey and Alison Galvin-Wright
- Charles and Fran Taylor to celebrate their marriage
- Marlborough Brandt Group and Gunjar in the Gambia
- Marlborough Churches Together
- Marlborough College
- Marlborough Communities Market
- Marlborough Community Choir
- Marlborough Community Orchard
- Marlborough & District Rotary Club
- Marlborough Football Club
- Marlborough Gardening Association
- Marlborough History Society
- Marlborough Rugby Club
- Marlborough Town Council
- North Wessex AON
- St John’s Academy
- St Mary’s Under Fives
- The Tree Council
- Transition Marlborough
- Trustees of the Merchant House
- U3A in Kennett
- Wiltshire Wildlife Trust