Newly planted orchard will bring plums, apples and pears to Waterlow Park in Highgate

New community orchard being planted in Waterlow park.

New community orchard being planted in Waterlow park. - Credit: Nigel Sutton

A project to build a community orchard in Waterlow Park in Highgate has finally come to fruition with the planting of apple trees, pear trees and plum trees last week in the popular green spot.

The idea was dreamed up a year ago by Richard Shipman who is on the committee of Friends of Waterlow Park and regularly walks there with his family, and funds were raised in collaboration with the London Orchard Project.

Mr Shipman who lives in Southwood Lane in Highgate explained: “Last spring I was walking in the park with my wife; her father had recently died and we thought, wouldn’t it be nice to plant a memorial tree for him?

“At the time I was also reading about how Waterlow Park used to have an orchard and I thought it would be great to do that again so I took it to Camden council and they were really enthusiastic.”

The 54-year-old who works as a business manager added: “It’s moved from our project to a community project but I am hoping that we will be able to dedicate the trees to people.

“Our dog also died the week before the planting so in a way it’s a bit of a commemoration for him.”

The Friends of Waterlow Park quickly gained support from the community and managed to raise more than £600 from small donations.

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The orchard was planted on Thursday (February 28) with councillors and residents helping out at the celebratory occasion which beckoned in the first few days of spring.

The orchard is made up of six different types of apple trees, one pear tree, two plum trees and a greengage tree that will begin flowering in the next few years.

Cllr Valerie Leach planted the first tree.

She said: “It was a plum tree that has very dark blossoms so it will look very pretty in spring.

“I live near the park and I have really appreciated what the Friends of Waterlow Park have done to improve it.

“On the day of the planting there were lots of school children running around and digging out holes and planting trees - I think the community is going to enjoy the orchard.”

Before the project could go ahead, Camden council had to carry out an extensive analysis of the land and test the soil to make sure it did not pose a health risk.

The two-year-old saplings are dwarf trees so they do not grow too high and create a climbing hazard and in eight years time they will come to full blossom.