Our first apple trees are soon to be planted in local residents and community gardens across Portobello, Craigmillar and Musselburgh. If you're still waiting to hear about collection dates, a further collection day is being organised for January 2021 once our second delivery of trees has arrived. We'll be in touch with all about this delivery shortly. Please scroll down to read more about the The Neighbouring Orchard and if you'd like to plant a tree, how to get involved. More trees planned for 2021.
Growing Tips | Useful Links
Pruning - The Orchard Project is a great resource to learn everything you need to know about caring for your apple tree. Their overview of pruning is very clear and easy to understand. https://www.theorchardproject.org.uk/guides_and_advice/pruning-apple-trees/
This short video shows you how to prune a one year maiden tree: https://www.ashridgetrees.co.uk/gardening-advice/fruit-tree-advice/video-pruning-maiden-fruit-tree-after-planting
And this video shows the pruning of a two year tree: https://www.ashridgetrees.co.uk/gardening-advice/fruit-tree-advice/video-pruning-two-year-old-fruit-tree
The most important thing to remember about pruning is that it should be done in the winter and you should cut the branches with a sharp pair of secateurs to avoid damaging the wood. Pruning encourages strong growth but it’s worth bearing in mind that unpruned trees will carry on growing just fine - they just might not be as productive.
Diseases and Problems - Apple trees are sturdy but here is a link on how to deal with potential problems. Most are easily dealt with without the need for any specialist supplies. The key ones to look out for are scab and canker which can be more common in damp environments.
Pollination - Apple trees are pollinated by bees and insects. Most apple trees are not self fertile and so need to be close enough to other varieties of apple which will cross pollinate them. The other trees in The Neighbouring Orchard will act as these cross pollinators - helping your tree to set fruit.
Mulch - Mulching is a way of providing important nutrients to your tree as well as helping it to retain moisture. It’s particularly important in the first couple of years when the tree is becoming established. To do this add a layer of either compost, leaf mould or wood chip in a ring around your tree, keeping it clear from the trunk to avoid rot. Here are The Orchard Project talking about the joys of mulch!
Download planting guide (pdf)
LISTEN above to this exclusive new audio story written and performed by Annie Lord, exploring Portobello's historic orchards and how the new Neighbouring Orchard will link together different neighbourhoods and communities. As a companion to the audio story, during the Art Walk's 'All At Sea' 2020 programme, audiences can visit Figgate Lane Residents Garden in Portobello to see some of Annie's drawings (17/18 October 2020).
About the Neighbouring Orchard
The Art Walk has begun developing a project working with artist Annie Lord that builds a community of locally grown apple trees, supported by funding from the National Lottery Awards Community Fund.
The Neighbouring Orchard project is offering young apple trees to households in Portobello, Musselburgh and Craigmillar, providing the possibility of apple harvests in years to come. At a time when we are physically distant from each other we look to planting trees as a way to forge links with people in neighbouring streets and suburbs. This individually planted, socially distant orchard will be rooted in community and as the trees grow, bud, blossom and fruit we will look forward to a time when we can gather together to enjoy the harvests.
The trees will be planted in front gardens or shared gardens, ensuring that they are visible to the wider community, acting as markers for people on daily walks, seen from bus windows and from other household's windows.
The apple varieties we are offering each have a historic link to the area, having previously been grown in local orchards in the 19th Century. Most apple trees need to have different varieties of apple trees nearby in order to be pollinated. The Neighbouring Orchard trees will form a network across individual gardens, linked together by bees and other pollinators who will fly between them.
How to get involved?
We are asking households to plant their trees in places which can be seen by walkers, commuters or other households. It might be a front garden or a corner of a shared tenement garden. Apple trees are easy to look after, even if you have little experience of gardening and we will provide you with all the information you need to take care of them. The trees will be provided in the winter as bare root trees, ready to be planted out (Winter 2020). They will do best planted directly in the ground in a relatively sunny position. For those of you whose gardens are paved over we have a small number of trees which are suitable for planting in large containers. When your tree begins to bear fruit we ask that you share your harvest with friends and neighbours, and share any images via social media using tags @neighbouringorchard #neighbouringorchard. We would like to be able to keep in touch with each grower, to keep an eye on the tree's progress and to share thoughts and tips!
Want to plant a tree?
We have been inundated with enquiries since first launching the project in Spring 2020. All available trees for our first phase have now been allocated. However, if you would like to put your name down for a future tree, we are looking to extend the project to have more trees available from later in the year. Please do email with a short description of your available garden space and its location, to email@example.com.
What if I don't have a garden?
Whilst the apple trees will be looked after by individual households we hope that they can be enjoyed by a much wider community. A series of artworks relating to the project will be created by Annie Lord and these will be available to anyone interested through either the Art Walk Porty newspaper or website. If you are interested in learning more about growing apple trees it is worth reaching out to the well established Portobello Community Orchard. They host regular work days (currently suspended due to Covid19) and their site is always open for visitors to enjoy. The Neighbouring Orchard is part of a wider project which looks to expand apple tree growing with a further plan to create a new community orchard. This element of the project is currently on hold due to Covid19.
The Neighbouring Orchard is a continuation of artist Annie Lord's residency with Art Walk Porty. In 2019 she researched historic orchards in the area including a walled orchard in Portobello in the late 19th Century and the grounds of Pinkie House, Musselburgh. The apple varieties planted as part of The Neighbouring Orchard were once grown in these and other local orchards. The new apple trees will link back to past orchards, mark our present experience and look forward to future growth.
The Sunday Times:
'Neighbours' orchard rooted in lockdown isolation blossoms in Edinburgh gardens'
Jean West, July 26, 2020
Annie is a performer and visual artist based in Edinburgh. She trained in sculpture at The Slade School of Fine Art (London) before developing her work to encompass storytelling and live performance. Annie's work explores geographic and cultural histories and the ways in which they shape the present. Her performances draw on local history as well as having a fascination with material processes.