11 October 2010

That's a Fine Pear You've Got There

This year's West Midlands Tree Warden Forum was held in the wonderful surroundings of Worcester Woods Country Park, just outside the city. Boasting an hundred acres of ancient oak woodland, and a fine Countryside Centre, the venue is ideal for this purpose.

Nunnery Wood (above) was, together with Nunnery Farm, managed by the White Ladies, Cistercian nuns. As a result of the dissolution, the wood was made an endowment to Christ Church College, Oxford, to the benefit of which it remains to this day. It is home not just to oak, but also aspen, wild service, yew, crab apple and pear - including the Worcester black pear, featured on the city's coat of arms.

An oak on the edge of the wood is likely half a millennium old, marking an ancient boundary. The woods were once farmland, and in nearby Hornhill Meadows one can still see the lines of ridge and furrow cultivation. An orchard of the nineteenth century, the remnants of Horn Hill Farm, has been restored, with apples and pears that were shrouded in briar now brought back to production (above).

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