An Orchard Odyssey- Book Review and Prize Draw

By Naomi Slade

Published by Green Books

Hardback 224 pages £24.99

ISBN: 978-0-85784-326-5

There are many things in life I’m not able to change at the moment. I’m sure some of you will be feeling the same. I am worried and unsettled by what’s happening in the UK, and around the world. I feel as if I’m just watching and waiting for people in power to start making some sensible decisions- or decisions I understand at least.

Focussing on something positive, I’ve decided to plant fruit trees. Reading through Naomi Slade’s book, An Orchard Odyssey, there’s hope written on every page. To plant a tree is to believe in a better future. I’m planning a community orchard. Something to bring people together. Sharing and caring is the way forward. I’ve been mulling this over for a while, and Naomi’s book gives me the answers I need to take the first steps.

It’s fascinating and reassuring to hear about restoration projects for old orchards. There’s a renewed interest in traditional methods of orchard management and on locally grown and heritage fruit . “Orchards are increasingly being reclaimed by communities and used in new ways. Not only are they a social resource, but as an archetype of sustainable agriculture there is also potential for enterprise, skills acquisition and learning activities- all on the back of biodiversity.”

I’m keen to know more about newly- planted orchards providing a shared resource and the book has a section on how to make a community orchard happen. There’s tips on creating a plan, getting local support, forming a group and thinking about management. There are activities for children and encouraging wildlife with log piles and bee hotels. Using the site as an exhibition area for local artwork sounds inspiring too.

I’ve been involved with many school gardens, designing and project managing builds. It’s something I loved doing. Naomi gives many fresh ideas, practical suggestions on planting and selecting varieties. What she also emphasises is that anyone can grow fruit. With modern dwarfing root stocks, fruit trees can be grown in small spaces. There are types which can be grown in a pot. You don’t even need a garden, some varieties can be grown on a balcony.

Naomi’s beautifully- illustrated book is packed with practical advice written with enthusiasm and passion. Sections on the history of orchards, the origins of apples, and gardening through the ages, contrast with modern breeding projects to develop new varieties and ways to combat pests and diseases.

Reading Naomi’s book should really be on prescription. It’s a joy. A few hours reading and my feeling of calm and sense of equilibrium has returned. Of course, the problems of the world have not gone away. But I feel as if I can do something to make a difference – even if it is planting just one tree. We have to believe small gestures, kindness, a willingness to make things better, actually work. I believe it works magic. What do you say?

The publishers have offered one copy to give away in a prize draw. Please leave a comment below to be included. No purchase is necessary, there’s no cash alternative and the publisher’s decision is final. Names will be randomly selected.

links: Green Books

36 thoughts on “An Orchard Odyssey- Book Review and Prize Draw

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  5. Hi, Karen, this book has just gone straight into my shopping basket, for when I have one of my periodic checkouts (also known as when I feel I’m in need of a treat!). I’m in the process of thinking about the design of the orchard that we will be planting next winter (not this) so I suspect this book will stimulate the creative juices in a very helpful way! Thanks for bringing it to my attention.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. What a delightful book Karen. Like you I was involved in supporting a lot of local schools in creating organic and edible gardens. Here in Ireland there is fabulous centre in County Clare that promotes heritage trees and seeds. It is called Irish Seedsavers.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. How do I get in touch with you? You had a blog in the summer about a garden with accommodation near York. I am travelling that way shortly and would like to get in touch to book a room. Hope you can help.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I’m passionate about apple trees, especially the heritage varieties. I hope that in future we can have a community orchard in our village – that’s my plan anyway!

    Liked by 1 person

    • It’s a good plan Christine. I’m passionate about heritage variates too. There’s a leicestershire one called Annie Elizabeth I’m going to buy. All the best with your plans and projects.


    • Thank you for reading. Yes, you can buy dwarfing root stocks and grow them in anything from a 12” pot to a half barrel. They do need more feed and water if in pots, but the new varieties are very successful. Winners will be announced Sunday night.


  9. Karen I understand how you feel with Brexit and all the political mess with the Government. It is a fantastic idea to get away from all that with this fabulous book with a magnificent and wonderfully illustrated content: I love it and I love it. If I could enter the raffle. The community garden is a wonderful project: planting a tree is planting a life. And if it is community, it is to plant many lives and share them with people and children who learn from a young age respect for nature and animals. I find it fantastic to include hotels for insects and hiding places for small mammals. Go back to the past where there were no insecticides but natural remedies to treat a problem or disease in a plant. And the same biodiversity created in a place with fruit trees, shade trees, diversity of flowering plants, aromatic and vines and shrubs, creates a biotope of insects that eat each other and do not need human intervention. That is an organic garden. That’s why your garden is always so divine and without problems. And Karen you can start planting your own fruit tree in your garden, take care of it according to the book and next year collect fruit. I am going to plant a tree in my country house next year for my dear Father: I know he would like it very much. Karen is a blogg that I love. Karen much love and good health for your whole family and for you. Caresses for Grace and Meg from me. Take care much my dear friend. Very affectionate greetings from Margarita xxx

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you Margarita. I am going to plant a tree in memory for my grandfather, and also for my father. Thank you for your enthusiasm for all the plans I make. I feel as if you are on my side. Enjoy your weekend. I have spent the day clearing away summer, harvesting tomatoes and cucumbers and washing plant pots ready for spring bulb planting which starts next week. I’ve planted some cauliflower and kale in the poly tunnel and lots of salads in the greenhouse. Take care. Affectionate greetings in return. Meg and Grace have kept me company in the potting shed, while my husband has been busy cutting hedges and clearing back brambles, while leaving some areas for the hedgehogs. Love from karen xxx

      Liked by 1 person

      • Karen I am very happy that you are going to plant a tree in memory of your Grandfather and your Father: when you look at the tree you will see them smiling at you. You have been working hard in the company of Grace and Meg: they are surely the best helpers in the world. Planting cauliflower and kale in the polytunel is fantastic, like picking tomatoes and cucumbers, which are good: I love them. Thanks to you, Karen for being so creative and having so many wonderful ideas to do: how are you not going to love me? Take Take care. Love and health for everyone and for you. Affectionate greetings from Margarita xxx

        Liked by 1 person

  10. I don’t have space for many fruit trees in my own garden but looking to plant up some more fruit trees at work. There are sections of the school field that are no longer accessible to the kids ideal for this purpose. I’ve got two dwarf apple trees already. They’ll never fruit that well as don’t get enough water over the six week holiday but I like the kids to see how they grow.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. I agree totally – small gestures can help us feel better about our immediate environment and no matter how small they can and do make a difference. A community orchard sounds such a good idea Karen. Good luck with your project!

    Liked by 1 person

  12. This book will be the perfect “nudge” I and I’m sure others will need to carry our hopes to grow fruit tress both at home and in community spaces. Thank you for sharing your community plans and the possibility of winning a copy of this delicious book, Karen.

    Liked by 2 people

  13. Sounds like a book I need to read as I really want to plant some fruit trees in my garden. Just got to learn a bit more about the different root stocks to make sure I get the correct size trees for my small garden.

    Liked by 2 people

  14. I totally understand the emotional confusions and anxieties you speak of in your introduction to this post, and from this point of view voting slants do not override the agreement of the basic sentiment. There are so many people who feel similarly, but also have decided to be silent to avoid turning the focus onto themselves.

    Your idea on handling the concerns raised in present times sounds very constructive and unifying. I wish you all the best with the project planning and the onward activity.

    Liked by 2 people

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