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Caring for Cotehele's orchards

Three volunteers put bags of freshly picked apples onto a trailer in an orchard at Cotehele, Cornwall
Apple picking at Cotehele | © National Trust Images / Mel Peters

Cotehele’s estate is home to several orchards. Traditional orchards not only provide beautiful spaces to relax – and delicious food and drink – but also a home for many birds, bees, butterflies and other insects. That’s why a dedicated team of gardners and volunteers work hard to care for Cotehele’s orchards. Their work ensures these special orchards continue to be somewhere visitors can enjoy and wildlife can thrive.

Cotehele's orchards

The Mother Orchard

Cotehele’s Mother Orchard consists of more than 300 trees and 125 different varieties of apple tree, which were planted in 2007-2008. These include the Cornish Honeypinnick, Limberlimb, Pig’s Nose and Lemon Pippin.

The varieties grown in the Mother Orchard have been bred to survive the South West coast’s mild and damp climatic conditions over the last 250 years. The orchard’s intention is to provide a set of ‘mother trees’ that can be used for the selection of future varieties for domestic and commercial use.

Sponsored trees

The planting of the Mother Orchard wouldn’t have been possible if it wasn’t for supporters who sponsored over 130 trees in the orchard. Many trees were planted to mark a personal occasion, such as a wedding anniversary, birthday or to remember friends and family.

Two volunteers hand pick apples in an orchard at Cotehele, Cornwall
Picking apples by hand at Cotehele | © National Trust Images / Mel Peters

The Old Orchard

The Old Orchard was part of a wider deer park surrounding the garden at Cotehele in the 16th century. Today the orchard is filled with a variety of fruit trees, including apples, cherries, plums and medlars, with some dating back to 1960.

The Old Orchard is often filled with daffodils in the spring. Some of the oldest daffodils planted at Cotehele can be found around the banks of the former pond, with additional varieties planted by the garden team in 2000.

Why traditional orchards are important

Traditional orchards are far better for wildlife than commercial ones. Without the pressure of needing to produce large quantities of fruit for sale, the trees are planted further apart and space is given to allow wildflowers to grow underneath, encouraging pollinators to pollinate blossom when the trees flower in the spring.

Orchards in decline

Due to changes in agricultural practices and pressures from development, orchard numbers have fallen by 63 per cent since the 1950s. With your support, the Trust plans to plant 68 new orchards on sites in England and Wales by 2025, thereby restoring this rare and valuable habitat and the wildlife that live in it.

Thank you

With your ongoing support, we're able to continue our vital conservation work. Thank you for helping to protect these special places.

The Quay on the Tamar River at dawn, at Cotehele, near Saltash, Cornwall


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