In 1996 the Coltishall Tree Wardens approached the Parish Council, enquiring as to whether they could create an apple orchard on the allotment site. There were various reasons for doing this which included:
1. There was a loss of Apple Orchards in Norfolk from the second world war (it was at a figure of 90%) And the tree wardens felt there was a need to protect this aspect of Norfolk's heritage.
2. To create an area, which in time, would increase in biodiversity good for wildlife such as birds, bees, butterflies and other insects all of which were/are in decline.
3. To provide the opportunity for others to take cuttings from the trees to graft on, root-stock and hence promote the planting of Norfolk species of apple (30 different species) grown in the orchard.
4. To provide an area for study (for both adults and children alike) for those interested in gaining knowledge of traditional orchards.
5. To provide a unique experience for parishioners and others, to have the opportunity to taste different apples from those purchased from the local supermarket.
6. To provide a place for reflection and peace for those that need it.
7. To create an asset for the Parish of Coltishall.
So with the assistance and approval of the parish council, the fellow tree wardens set to work planting said purchased trees on allotment spaces, which are adjacent to the bridle path at the back of Kings Road.
The following year saw the tree wardens plant more apple trees and also win the "Green Award" from Broadland District Council. The prize money from which was donated to the Horstead Mill Project. A plaque on the entrance gate to the orchard records this award.
Hedging and a few trees were planted along the boundaries of the Orchard, defining it's boundaries and also to enhance the wildlife on the site. There have been some plum trees (sadly not of Norfolk origin) which were donated and are in the southern boundary of the orchard.
It was also thought that to enhance the area for wildlife, a wildflower meadow (98% decrease in these since World War II) could be created under the apple trees.
This has been done over the years but more recently intense work has been carried out by local volunteers and a local wildflower expert. The wildflower meadow needs a certain type of management and we are assisted in this by the Bure Valley Conservation Group. We keep the use of chemicals to a minimum .
Moreover the local Women's Institute sought permission to plant a herb garden within the orchard which further enhances the wildlife, such as pollination insects.
The local school children of Coltishall Primary School are regular users of this area and have assisted with the planting and maintenance of the wildflower meadow.
There have been several fact finding missions from those such as Ormiston Academy, Aylsham Town Council, Broadland Tree Wardens etc. who have been keen to start up their own community orchard and indeed have successfully done so.
The sight of apple blossom in Spring (resulting in fruit free for the village to try) and the subsequent flowering of the wildflowers under the trees, is therefore a great asset to the local community and has helped save Norfolk's apple orchard heritage. As mentioned before it is an area where biodiversity can live and thrive, as habitants elsewhere are being threatened by development and other pressures.
Information provided by Coltishall Tree Wardens and Volunteer
Peter Croot, Michael Spinks, Bill Musson and Anne Cryer
Photos supplied by Anne Cryer - Wildflower Enthusiast