Bowling Park Community Orchard

Bowling Park Community Orchard

in the allotments on Bowling Park Drive, BD4

We got wet today, but we preserved to make sure the Orchard was ready for Apple Day on Sunday. We continued with the autumn task of cutting the long grass and weeding under the trees. We did a little bit of harvesting, but left some to do with visitors on Sunday. The path had a bit more weeding and bark spread on it. Paulina did a great job of marking the two young trees with a decorative willow structure.

Bowling Park Community Orchard

in the allotments on Bowling Park Drive

We arrived at the orchard today having been told our tenancy had been ended. It wasn't just the belief that this was the result of a clerical error (we had returned letters on time to accept a notice of bad cultivation and signed to say our intention was to improve), but because we know the orchard is a highly productive allotment, growing loads of organic apples, many varieties that you cannot buy in the shops. Whilst we know that we hadn't done enough work this summer, and we need to address that next year if we wish to keep the orchard going, we will continue to cultivate following guidelines from Garden Organic, the national research organisation that provides advice to professional and amateur gardeners. 

Today we were busy with the scythes and sickles to start the late summer grass cut. A new bench was installed, using reclaimed timber, and others were fixed with timberlocks. The collection of the gravel for the path was thwarted by padlock technicalities, however this was resolved on Tuesday 27th when Forest of Bradford volunteers dropped it off and helped with further tasks. 

Although the ripening of apples is relatively late (blossom was late this year) we are now in full flow. Make sure you are contacting us for all your apple shopping. 

Bowling Park Community Orchard

In contrast to yesterday, it was wet today, but we completed several key tasks. The summer pruning of the cordons and espaliers was just about completed to restrict their growth. They are looking tidier. The hedges were cut. We used cardboard and straw to mulch round more trees, having been pleased with the results from the work done in June. 

There is still plenty of long grass – we watch a Large Skipper butterfly laying eggs, so we will leave the meadow until later in the summer. The alliums we planted earlier in the year were looking good and providing nectar for the insects. 

Some pictures in the gallery 

Bowling Park Community Orchard

in the allotments on Bowling Park Drive

The weather conditions have been great for grasses – we were met, not unexpectedly, be a jungle to clear. By the end of the day we had made quite a difference. The pathways had been cleared as well as vegetation under most of the trees. In addition we used straw to mulch some of the trees and will monitor how effective this is. 

We have been trying to increase the nectar sources in the orchard for pollinators for the periods when the trees aren’t in blossom (though Court Pendu Plat was still flowering) and the Orange Hawkweed and Vipers Bugloss were looking great. We intentionally leave some of the grass long as it offers habitat for peat control species, as well as butterflies such as Ringlet. 


Blossom Day at Bowling Park Community Orchard

in the allotments on Bowling Park Drive

What a surprise! No blossom.. We’ve said it before but this year really was the least blossomy Blossom Day. Although today was warm and sunny on the whole, it was snowing last week so it’s not surprising the blossom is delayed; let’s hope the weather suits the pollinating bees when the flowers open.

A range of activities took place, including some artistic people making tissue blossom and others eating cake. The practical tasks included the predictable weeding, as well las feeding the trees and replacing the gate post. 

Bowling Park Community Orchard

in the allotments on Bowling Park Drive

Today we completed the winter pruning of the apple trees. We also turned the compost heaps and gave the trees a feed of compost, and a handful or so of seaweed and fine charcoal (a by-product of our barbeque charcoal making that we understand helps to make minerals more accessible to the tree). The shed had a spring clean and was made secure. 

Two years ago Sue and I went to a grafting workshop and ‘created’ two new trees – Aklam Russet and Yorkshire Greening. Today we planted them. They are still fairly small, but make welcome additions to our selection of trees as they will both store well. 

Bradford Apple Group have been successful in receiving a grant form Sovereign Healthcare, who wanted the money to go towards the management of the orchard. 


Bowling Park Community Orchard

In the allotments on Bowling Park Drive

We made a start on the winter pruning today. I wish I had acted on my plan to put tape on branches that, earlier in the year, I had identified for removal. However, we returned to basic principals of removing dead, diseased and dying branches, and those crossing and rubbing. Quite a few trees need to be opened up to allow air circulation and easier harvest – we tried to be thorough. 

We planted some allium blubs, to add to those planted by Rob’s group, along with crocuses, in an attempt to create nectar supplies for the bees before and after the apples are in blossom. 

Willow and dogwood was coppiced, preventing anything getting too big and providing material for a wreath making workshop. 

APPLE DAY - Our annual public event

Bowling Park Community Orchard

Finger Puppets: Hannah's bee is taking her ladybird for a walk. Finger Puppets: Hannah's bee is taking her ladybird for a walkConsidering the weather we have had over the past few weeks today was a little disappointing. Nothing awful, just autumnal, but luckily it didn’t deter over 400 people coming for our annual celebration of all things apple (and English fruit in general). 

Again we were able to offer a full range of activities with the help of an invaluable team of volunteers, activity leaders from BCEP and stalls held by other groups.

With the help of the enthusiastic participants we made fresh juice from windfalls and other apples that had been stored in waiting (mainly Katy which continues to be such a prolific tree). 113 kg of orchard apples were sold; varieties including Ribston Pippin (always a favourite), Sunset, Arthur Turner, Katy, Grandpa Buxton, Kidd’s Orange Red, Bramley’s seedling, Belle de Boskoop, Egremont Russet and James Grieve. It was great to get help from several families during the afternoon in picking more apples to top up the supplies. 

Belle de Boskoop is a dual purpose apple. It makes a lovely baked apple, and it would normally only be considered ready for eating later in the year once more sugar has developed  but it still came out top in the tasting sessions that BCEP ran. 

Beardsworths Nursery again provided trees for sale and several people left Apple Day ready to grow their own fruit. Martin was busy all day with horticultural advice, and Anne had a stream of people requesting identification of their apples. 

The young people, and the not so young, were guided in scavenger hunts, drawing skills and in making finger puppets and name the apple game.

Cakes were eaten, orchard jams and chutneys were bought, as were lollies and fruit leathers supplied by Plenty and honey by Mark. Entertainment was provided by an impromptu assemblage of musicians. It was another successful Apple Day. Thanks everyone.

See some more pictures here


Bowling Park Community Orchard

in the allotments on Bowling Park Drive


The focus of today was to make sure the orchard was safe and ready to host Apple Day. A few of the wooden benches are in need of repair, but for the time being we have decided to remove those that are too wobbly to be safe.
Paths were cleared, the dogwood weeded and some of the beds weeded in preparation for planting crocuses as an early nectar source for our pollinators.
As well as the work at the orchard, there was also the job of gathering and loading all the stuff needed for Apple Day – tables, juicing kit, signs, activities, marquees etc etc. By the end of the day all was set, just the cakes to make. 

Bowling Park Community Orchard - BEES 30th Anniversary Event

There was lots to do today, but we did manage to eat birthday cake at lunchtime. Thank you for the contributions. There were no speeches, so I’ll take this opportunity say thank you to everyone who has been involved in BEES over the past 30 years. BEES is all about the people; without volunteers and participants we would not be managing green spaces for wildlife and creating educational spaces. Thank you for your contribution.

In terms of the orchard, today were grass and hedge cutting, clearing around the trees, replacing bark with stone on another section of path and picking a few apples. 


Bowling Park Community Orchard

In the allotments on Bowling Park Drive

Well, we can’t say we weren’t warned! There was a Met Office weather warning so we knew we were in for a wet day and that is how it turned out. But despite becoming very soggy we managed to undertake a few summer tasks. 

We started the restrictive pruning of the cordons in order to keep the branches in a contained shape. We harvested the last of the blackcurrants, gooseberries and worcesterberries and the first of the apples. The beauty of Bath were starting to fall from the tree so we picked those that were coming off at a touch. But they were still fairly sour so we are hoping a bit of sunshine will sweeten them up before they fall. 

We harvested onions but left the garlic until a drier day. We cleared around the bottom of some of the trees, and mowed paths though the grass, but left some as it is still a valuable habitat for the frogs, moths, spiders and other invertebrates that our part of our cultivation management. 

We replaced a small section of path leading to Belvedere and tested using some stone to replace the bark on the path. It seems like it may be a good alternative but we will bring the wacker plate up one day to finish off the task.  


8th May 2015

Bowling Park Drive, BD4

We judged the date right - there was a good display of apple blossom (the pear and plum had just about finished). However we didn't manage to do a great deal of publicity so we had a quiet day getting on with some essential tasks. We cut under the trees and the grass in general, especially the areas where the ground elder is taking hold. We tended the vegetable beds and planted some onion seedlings. Belverdere was sanded and treated with preservative.

There was a little artistic dabbling, which we will continue at a later date, and there were cake, flapjack and buns eaten and enjoyed. We retreated just after the rain started. There were 35mm of rain over night, which highlighted how lucky we were to have such a nice day.


Bowling Park Community Orchard

In the allotments, Bowling Park Drive, BD4

We had a mix of tasks to get on with today, and were pleased to welcome a group of Level 3 Horticulture students from Shipley College to join us for the morning.

We completed the winter pruning, replaced the legs of the bench that had rotted, carried on with general weeding. We planted some garlic; we normally plant in early winter, so choose a variety that is suited to spring planting (Picardy White). 

As well as the gardening we also created some ‘mini-beast trap doors’. We hope that these will be attractive to some of the little creatures that live in the orchard so that when we visit with school groups they can see what is living in the orchard. 

We saw a couple of bumble bees, a nice sign of Spring!

Bowling Park Community Orchard

Bowling Park Drive, BD4

Today eleven volunteers undertook a range of winter management tasks. We made a good start to the winter pruning, but still more to do. The privet hedge was cut to allow light into the orchard and some hazel shrubs were moved to give the Fortune tree room to expand. 

The Cornus and some willow was cut ready for a winter wreath making session at Bradford College. We continued to weed the patch near Belvedere, ready for planting next year. 

There still are apples in storage, let us know if you want some.


APPLE DAY Event 12-4pm.

Bowling Park Drive, BD4

Volunteering roles from 9am to 5.30pm

Our annual celebration event will be slightly different than previous years but still a lot of volunteer roles. Juicing, apple sales, kitchen help as well as help with setting up the marquees and packing up at the end of the day.

We will pick up from Culture Fusion at (time to follow).
Make your own way to the orchard if you plan to come along later.

Bowling Park Community Orchard

Bowling Park Drive, BD4

Today we were focusing on ensuring the site was ready for Apple Day. We finished weeding the seating areas and path and topped up some areas with new bark chip. We had bought a full load but this turned out to be only a fraction of what was needed.

We also paid attention to areas of nettles and other unwanted plants, as well as a bit of weeding in the vegetable beds. We harvested apples and did as much preparation for Sunday as possible in advance.

10 volunteers

Bowling Park Community Orchard

Bowling Park Community Orchard, allotments Bowling Park Drive, West Bowling, BD4

19th Sept 201419th Sept 2014Nine volunteers worked at the orchard today. The fence and gate were repaired and replaced. Fruit and vegetables, mainly potatoes, were harvested. The pathways were cleared and areas of vegetation cut. 

Bowling Park Community Orchard

Allotments, Bowling Park Drive, West Bowling, BD4

We will carry out general maintenance tasks at the Orchard. As always there will be plenty to do to keep the site looking cared for as the harvest season approaches. This included mowing the grass next to the path, and weeding around the trees and raised beds. The belvedere was looked at, with the old graffiti and vanish removed and a new coating painted on.

On the day too we had a wonderful surprise with a family of wrens, with the fledging hopping in the freshly mown grass and a strange encounter with a colony of caterpillar.

Today we were in a group of 13 


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Blossom Day 2014

Bowling Park Community Orchard, allotments Bowling Park Drive, West Bowling, BD4

We had a lovely day at the orchard today.

Everyone worked hard to tackle several essential tasks - grass cutting and general weeding, clearing around the trees and applying some food (seaweed meal, fine charcoal and compost), clearing the area near the new gazebo, and weeding and planting vegetable seeds.

This year the vegetable beds are an extension of our Ration Garden. The seeds we planted were donated by the Heritage Seed Library and the potatoes are varieities that were being grown over 100 years ago. Read more about our WW1 Ration Garden here.

The forcast had been for a chilly day but we were actually blessed with warm sunshine (and the need for suncream!). And another bonus was the amount of blossom! The orchard looked lovely.

There is still quite a lot of work to do to finish the spring tasks. We are next at the orchard on 6th June.

Click here to view the rest of the days pictures

Click here to view the BEES Flickr account

Bowling Park Community Orchard

In the allotments, Bowling Park Drive, BD4

As part of the Apples for All project, horticulturist Andrew Chapman joined us to deliver some tree pruning training. There is a lot to learn and take in, but the more we learn and put those lessons into practice the better the fruit production will be in the future. At the same time other jobs were being carried out around the site, these included cutting the privet hedges, laying the native hedge and clearing encroaching vegetation. This will improve the amount of sunlight that is able to get to the trees and their fruit. The missing tree labels were replaced, now visitors can identify the trees and the label includes useful information like when to harvest the fruit. Considering the weather of heavy rain which set in before lunch it was impressive that the group kept going to get as much of the work completed as possible. But there is still more hedges to cut before the birds really get on with nesting.

Today we worked with 8 volunteers.


Click here to view the photos of the day

Friday 13th Dec Bowling Park Community Orchard, in the allotments, Bowling Park Drive, BD4

Today we welcomed Belvedere, the art installation that has been located on the Urban Garden site in the city centre. It is a shelter like structure made up of a steel frame that was disassembled for delivery. It came in two halves which had to be carried to the location and then reassembled. Our thanks to Raise the Roof for their help. It looks brilliant in its new home and as if it was meant to be there.

Of course there were other jobs that had to be carried which included some of the winter pruning of the fruit trees, laying of the hedge at the top of the site, removing encroaching blackthorn from the Bramley and preparing ground for a raised bed.

Today we worked with 10 volunteers.

Click here to see other photos of the day.

Sunday 13th October 2013 APPLE DAY 2013 Bowling Park Community Orchard in allotments, Bowling Park Drive, BD4

  APPLE DAY 2013 was a great success. Thanks to everyone who worked so hard to make it happen and to everyone who braved the weather to make it all worthwhile. Report and more photos to follow soon......but we worked with 19 volunteers today, who contributed really well to ensure that the day ran smoothly and visitors welcome.

Friday 11th October 2013 Bowling Park Community Orchard in allotments, Bowling Park Drive, BD4

Our task today was to prepare the site for Apple Day 2013. The important job of harvesting the apples was carried out. This is a skilled process to ensure only the ripe fruits were picked; they were then weighed and stored separately in their respective varieties ready for selling. Other areas of the site were given attention the grass was mown, hedges cut, path weeded and compost turned. All the cutting and weeding produced a good deal of material that we will aim to make useable compost in the future. It is a lot of work to keep on top of the management and today was a big help towards this. The visitors on Sunday will get a good impression.

We worked with 17 volunteers today.  

Click here to see other photos of the day and site.

Friday 2nd August 2013 Bowling Park Community Orchard, Allotments Bowling Park Drive, West Bowling, BD4

Things have certainly been growing at the Orchard recently and everywhere seemed to need attention. So after a tour round the site we set about our task. Grass areas and the path edges were mown. The areas round the raised beds were cleared and the beds weeded. The paths and seating areas weeded. Blackcurrants and gooseberries were harvested. Plus the cordons and espaliers pruned. The site was looking a lot better for the hard days graft by the end of it.

But now the focus will be on collecting the harvest and it certainly looks like it could be a bumper one with lots of the trees laden with fruit.

Today we worked with 7 volunteers.

Click here to see other photos of the day.

Friday 3rd May 2013; Blossom Day 2013 BPCO, Allotments, Bowling Park Drive, West Bowling, BD4

Today we were celebrating 10 years of the Orchard. The delay in spring this year meant that the blossom spectacle was not quite ready for us today but the early blossoming trees like the plums and pears were looking good. The apple trees were just beginning to open and will no doubt be in full bloom soon. Still the orchard was a busy place today, a good number of visitors turned up for a guided tour of the site and some refreshments. Joe and Clair’s apple and ginger was particularly popular and the recipe will appear soon.  We also had a couple of local school groups and we ran activities for them including nature appreciation, learning about growing fruit, planting wild flowers and vegetables. Of course the BEES volunteers were busy creating a memorial area, cutting grass, building the compost bins, weeding, planting wildflowers and serving refreshments. The BEES choir provided a sweet(ish) rendition of happy birthday for Nick’s birthday.

Today we worked with 12 volunteers.

Click here to see other photos of the day.

Friday 1st February 2013: Bowling Park Community Orchard

We had a productive day the orchard, encouraged by the occasional warmth of the sun and a feeling of spring (in truth these moments were short lived, the wind was fairly bitter and we needed to keep busy to be warm).

We completed almost all of the winter pruning of the apples and pears, with the exception of checking the trained fruit for any disease or damage that will need removing. A few of the trees have areas of canker, and we took the decision to remove a branches from Kidd’s Orange Red and Peasgood Nonsuch, as much to see how they respond as they both have disease in the lower trunk that we cannot remove. A few of the trees, in particular the Allington Pippin and Winston are very crowded. They have a growth habit of lots of twiggy branches. We removed a fair few branches but on our next visit we guess it will be hard to tell that we had done anything.

Blackcurrant, redcurrant, gooseberry, rhubarb and strawberries were planted in beds. Encroaching plants were removed from the boundary near the Egremont Russet and the cornus was cut back at the top of the site.

The last of the stored apples were distributed and we talked about the orchard’s forthcoming 10th birthday, which we will formally celebrate at blossom time on 3rd May.

Today we worked with 11 volunteers.

Sunday 7th October 2012; APPLE DAY 2012 Bowling Park Community Orchard in allotments Bowling Park Drive

Our annual celebration day of our apple and fruit heritage. The early shift arrived on site to be greeted by a ground frost. But it did not deter the folks and soon we were unloading vehicles and putting up marquees and shelters and decorate the site. Stuff kept on arriving for us to unload and set up. Soon it was beginning to take shape. Our visitors started arriving before noon and kept on coming during the afternoon. They were able to enjoy the afternoon sunshine as well as the delicious food from the café, apples sales, apple identification, apple juicing, games and activities and horticultural advice. Plus a special this year the pink milk float printing press! All the visitors seemed impressed with the site and enjoyed themselves. And all too soon it was time to pack up for another year. The total number of visitors was 590 and we were joined for the first time by volunteers on Sewa Day, from the Hindu community – our special thanks to them for helping to make the day go smoothly.

There were 9 BEES volunteers today.

Click here to see other photos of the day.

Friday 5th October 2012; Bowling Park Community Orchard in allotments, Bowling Park Drive, BD5.

Today we prepared the site for the forthcoming Apple Day 2012. There was much work to be done. This included cutting the grass areas, digging over the the vegetable growing beds, replacing the post for the shelter's sail, cutting hedges, constructing the compost bins and harvesting. Check out the harvest record. Luckily there was 24 people on site at one point, so the tasks were divided amongst us and we got down to the work. At the end of the day the work had been largely completed and the site was ready to host another apple day event.

Today we worked with 12 BEES volunteers and 8 from Forest of Bradford.

Click here to see other photos of the day.