Rare apples and pears in Tewin

A �50,000 grant will allow Herts and Middlesex Wildlife Trust to carry out urgent restoration work to protect rare local fruit tree varieties and some very special wildlife too


TEWIN Orchard is one of the largest and best remaining orchards in Hertfordshire. Sadly, nearly 60 per cent of traditional orchards like this have been lost from the county in the last 60 years. The small numbers that remain are havens for wildlife and wonderful fruit varieties – the kind of fruit that you just don’t get in the supermarkets.

So Herts and Middlesex Wildlife Trust was delighted to hear recently that their application for funding to carry out restoration work at the orchard was successful. Biffaward and East Herts District Council are funding a �50,000 one-year project which will enable 90 new fruit trees to be planted, many of which are local Hertfordshire varieties in danger of disappearing forever. 

The planting of Hertfordshire varieties of fruit has long been a policy at Tewin. The Hitchin Pippin was propagated here from the last known named tree, which was over 100 years old.

Michael Clark, the volunteer warden at Tewin Orchard, says: ‘The future of the Hitchin Pippin is now secure with regular propagation and there will be more examples in the new collection at the orchard, thanks to the grant money. As well as the local varieties, we plan to include all the apples from my field guide which is being prepared in a second edition with watercolours and photographs of the most famous and best loved types ever grown, to be published during next year.’

The grant is great news not only for the fruit trees, but for some special wildlife too. The reserve has a mosaic of habitats including not only the fruit trees but also hedgerows, grassland, woodland and ponds.

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This means there is an associated diversity of wildlife, including a number of threatened species: great crested newts, noctule and brown long-eared bats, birds like yellowhammers and bullfinches and the rare white letter hairstreak butterfly.

Tim Hill, Herts and Middlesex Wildlife Trust Conservation Manager, says, ‘As part of the project we will create a hibernaculum for great crested newts, a place where they can spend the winter in safety!

‘Great crested newts already live in the pond at Tewin Orchard and we want to protect this crucial population and ensure it flourishes. A circular path will be created around the pond for visitors to do a bit of newt-detecting and see what other wildlife they can spot too.’