To get the Community Orchard into good shape and renovate some of the old apple trees in the Park some of the Friends are attending pruning courses run by the Orchard Project. We are also lucky to have people from the Northen Fruit Growers Association in the area to advise us, as well as the RHS at Harlow Carr.
So, on a cold (-2 degrees) January morning we set off to Tingley to learn how to renovate apple trees and also how to do an Orchard Wassail, an old Anglo Saxon customer to encourage healthy orchards: ‘waes hael’ means ‘good health’.
For us the Wassail involved, soaking the tree roots in rough cider, singing a Wassail folk tune, hanging cider soaked toast on the pruned trees, and eating ‘cake and ale’ (or in our case, as we were driving, warm, spiced apple juice). You can also process through the orchard making a noise with pots and pans to drive away ‘bad spirits’, and dress up as mummers.
An Orchard Wassail is done on ‘Twelfth Night’ – although this could be the modern calendar date of 6th January or the old calendar of 17th January. We thought that next year we’d give it a go and have our own Parkinson’s Park wassail event.
If anyone would like to help organize it let us know – firstname.lastname@example.org.