Hastings & St. Leonards on-line community newspaper

Christ Church schoolchildren and local community members greet the new tree. Artist Emma Harding is on the right.

Community apple orchard planted in Gensing Gardens for National Tree Week

For National Tree Week (27 November-5 December), four local apple trees were planted in Gensing Gardens in St Leonards-on-Sea. The trees were planted by members of Arts On Prescription and children from Christ Church CoE Primary Academy. HOT’s Erica Smith and Joan Taylor-Rowan were there to help welcome the new trees.

Children from Christ Church CE Primary Academy get stuck in to the tree planting.

Last Thursday a crowd gathered at the junction of Charles Road and Cumberland Gardens to watch community groups plant two apple trees. The following day, pupils from Christ Church primary school planted two more trees. The planting of the mini-orchard was organised by Emma Harding – the lead artist for the annual ATownExploresABook festival.

Emma said: “The book we are exploring in April 2022 is The Diddakoi by local writer Rumer Godden. This award-winning book will be 50 years old next year, and whilst it reflects the time it was written in, the themes are all still relevant today. The book begins with the heroine, Kizzy, living in a caravan in an apple orchard with her great grandmother.

“We wanted to plant apple trees in Gensing Gardens in time for next year’s festival and we’ve worked with local apple tree experts Sassie Yasamee, Mary Dawson and Roz Callum and Hastings Borough Council’s tree officer, Chris Wilken, to source local trees and find the best spot to plant them. In the Spring schoolchildren will be creating artwork inspired by the book that will be displayed around the trees.”

Local community members were invited to ‘meet the trees’ and have been encouraged to help water them through the summer months. The four trees are all varieties of apple tree bred in Sussex. They include a Mareda from Scutes Farm, Hastings, a Lady Hopetown from Bexhill, and a Tinsley Quince and Crawley Reinette from Crawley. A fifth tree donated by Craig Sams from his orchard of Saltcote Pippins (originally bred in Rye) will soon join the other trees.

Next year is also the 150th anniversary of Gensing Gardens and the tree planting was an opportunity to bring the local community together to plan more events for 2022.

Juicy apple facts from Joan Taylor-Rowan –
our ‘Tree Correspondent’

  • Apples have been grown for thousands of years and originally came from central Asia. With the Norman conquest, new varieties of apples came from France most notably the costard. These were grown in orchards of monasteries but soon the variety spread across the country. The sellers of these were known as ‘costardmongers’ – hence the term costermonger.
  • Apples grown from seed rarely resemble their parents and so most commercial apples are cultivars – that is propagated by grafting basically by attaching a stem from one variety onto the rootstock of another. There are over 7500 cultivars and new varieties take 15 years to develop.
  • The Bramley cooking apple originated from a single pip, planted in Nottinghamshire by a young woman Mary Ann Brailsford, and every Bramley ever eaten has come from that original rootstock. The original tree is still in existence.  Other chance developments include the Granny Smith – found growing on a rubbish tip in Australia.
  • Granny Smith and Fuji varieties keep the longest.
  • Apples have been associated with, eternal youth, knowledge, and healing. They inspired the theory of gravity and are famously the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge in the biblical story of Adam and Eve.
  • Whilst knowledge may not be that easily obtained from these delicious little fruits, but good gut health and vitamins are!

If you live near Gensing Gardens or use it regularly, you are encouraged to join the Facebook group “We Love Gensing Gardens” – or email to find out more and get involved with the anniversary celebrations and to volunteer to help look after the trees.
You can find out more about next year’s ATownExploresABook festival by visiting the website.

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Posted 21:22 Wednesday, Dec 8, 2021 In: Green Times

Also in: Green Times

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