An apple in the eye of garden project

JPCT-10-02-12 Station Road Gardens, Billingshurst - tree planting by Billingshurst primary school year 6 and reception class children, with year 4 teacher Meg Siragher holding up a rare sussex apple Hawkridge tree sapling.  -photo by steve cobb
JPCT-10-02-12 Station Road Gardens, Billingshurst - tree planting by Billingshurst primary school year 6 and reception class children, with year 4 teacher Meg Siragher holding up a rare sussex apple Hawkridge tree sapling. -photo by steve cobb

A SMALL orchard of Sussex apple trees was planted by 32 pupils of Billingshurst Junior School as part of the design of the Friends of the Gardens project in Station Road.

The Friends of the Gardens was donated seven varieties of apple tree following an initiative by Action in Rural Sussex to encourage the younger generation to appreciate the benefits of apples as food.

Schoolchildren, led by their ecology co-ordinator Meg Siragher, worked with Peter May from Brighton Permaculture to plant the trees on January 10.

They were joined by a number of the Friends doing the hard work of digging the holes, led by chairman Keith Brown.

However the pupils did the more intricate tasks of staking, back filling, installing the watering tubes and rabbit guards.

The pupils, aged four to 11, have been cooking apple crumble and learning how the environment’s carbon footprint is affected when buying apples from overseas rather than local produce from Sussex.

Keith Brown said: “This is our first planting exercise for the project and it is excellent that we are able do this with the young people from the school.”

Meg Siragher said: “It was a very welcome initiative giving the young pupils hands on experience in planting and learning about fruit trees from experts.”

For those interested in Sussex apple trees, the varieties planted are: Saltcote Pippin, First & Last, Manningtons Pearmain, Tinsley Quince, Hawkridge, Crawley Beauty and Alfriston.

Many of these varieties are mentioned in “Forgotten Fruits of Sussex”, and it is thought many of them originated in the 1800s on the Downs between Chichester and Emsworth.

All of these Sussex apple trees planted in Station Road Gardens have been grown by Peter May at Stanmer Park, Brighton.