The Council has planted an orchard of 20 fruit trees at the southern end of Millwall Park.
Situated just east of the sculpture, at the end of the wooded strip, the orchard includes apple and plum trees. There are five each of two traditional English varieties – the Victoria plum and Cox’s Orange Pippin apple, both great favourites for their excellent flavour. The other ten trees are a less well-known apple, Jonagold, another excellent eating apple. Jonagold is an American cultivar of apple, developed in 1953 at Cornell University’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. It is a cross between the crisp Golden Delicious and the blush-crimson Jonathan. There’s more information about Jonagold apples on Wikipedia.
In addition to providing tasty and healthy fruit for people to eat, orchards are very valuable wildlife habitats. The flowers provide a brief boom of nectar for bees and other pollinating insects in spring, and any fruit not consumed by people is welcomed by birds and invertebrates (such as the Red Admiral enjoying rotting plums in the photo on the left) in autumn. There are also a number of insects, particularly moths and beetles, which are specialist feeders on fruit trees, eating their leaves, flowers or dead wood. Many traditional orchards have disappeared from the British countryside in the last few decades, and some of these specialist insects are becoming rare. Planting new orchards is therefore an objective in our Local Biodiversity Action Plan, and this project contributes to the target for 5000 square metres of new orchard between 2014 and 2019.
Header photo: Millwall Park orchard (John Archer)
Red Admiral photo by Colin Toogood