About Orchard Notes

Yours Truly, exploring the old orchard at Hidcote, June 2021
"Among the productions, which serve as food, the fruits are peculiarly attractive. There is something charming and delightful in their cultivation, as well as in their enjoyment : and he, whose mind was not steadily fixed upon things, generally and essentially useful, might easily be tempted to swerve from the original; purpose, and become a Pomologist, by preference, instead of being a Gardener."

Preface to the Transactions of the Horticultural Society of London, Vol II, 1817

Hello and welcome to Orchard Notes. I’m Darren Turpin, a keen orchardist, amateur pomologist, professional gardener, allotmenteer and GYO enthusiast.

If you’re a first-time reader, please do feel free to have a look at the contents guide, which explains the sort of articles I tend to post on the blog.

If you’re based in the Greater Manchester area – particularly Bury, Salford, Rochdale, Oldham or North Manchester – and are looking for someone to help with or offer practical advice on planting, pruning, and caring for fruit trees – or more specialist activities like grafting – please do drop me a line. I’m always interested in hearing about any orchard-related projects or freelance work opportunities.

About Me

Following a mid-life decision to change my career direction, in 2016 I qualified for the RHS Level 2 Certificate in the Principles of Horticulture and in April 2017 started working part-time as an Assistant Gardener at Ordsall Hall and Gardens, working under Head Gardener Lindsay Berry, until her move to a new position in May 2018. I then stepped up to de facto senior gardener, looking after the gardens with our team of dedicated and hard-working volunteers for a few months, before our new Head Gardener, Jo Green, started in December 2018. At Ordsall Hall and Gardens I worked across the site on whatever needed to be done although the area I most enjoyed working on was, of course, the 18-tree heritage orchard.

I was also a weekly volunteer at the RHS Garden Bridgewater from September 2019 (lockdowns aside), helping the walled garden team in the process of establishing, managing, and continually enhancing the garden – which includes a heritage orchard of North West UK apple, pear and plum trees – until April 2022, when I was taken on as a full-time horticulturist in the Trials department. I then moved to the Paradise Garden in September 2022, before taking a short sabbatical and then returning in June 2023 as a garden-wide peripatetic horticulturist (a.k.a. supply gardener).

In January 2024 I moved to a part-time, permanent position with the National Trust, working as a gardener at Quarry Bank, where I’m closely involved with the care and curation of the Apprentice House and Village orchards, and helping my colleagues to look after several other sections of fruit trees in the Kitchen and Upper gardens. I’ve also provided training sessions on fruit tree pruning for colleagues from other National Trust gardens and properties in the area.

For the past few years I’ve also been helping out at Holly Mount Community Orchard, running pruning training sessions for their regular volunteers in the winter months.

Helping out at a pruning session at Holly Mount community orchard, January 2021

My wife, Jo, and I have been growing fruit, vegetables, herbs and flowers on Plot #59 of Langley Allotments in Prestwich, North Manchester since 2014. We grow stepover and cordon apples on our main plot, and in 2017 we took on a second plot, which along with two other plot holders, we turned into a 20-tree orchard that includes culinary and dessert apples, pears and plums, plus a quince, medlar and damson. I’ve since had to step back from direct involvement in the management of that plot, but I’m still help with the pruning and care of the trees as and when asked.

If you have any comments or questions, please do feel free to leave a reply on any relevant blog post (please note, the first comment by a user is moderated to help cut down on spam) or you can send me an email or a Tweet or DM via @orchardonotes and I’ll get back to you as soon as I can. I’m also on LinkedIn (but not very often…)

Orchard Notes by Darren Turpin is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

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