THEY are certainly not wild, but old orchards are important places through out the year for lots of wildlife, and like so many habitats they are becoming more and more scarce.
Last week we visited RHS Wisley - about as artificial, man-made environment as you can get, but yet one quite sympathetic to the nature. As a garden it is spectacular, and has a host of different things to see, including an orchard with a huge variety of apples - and hence is important just for that reason.
Using my old-ish iphone (other smartphones are available) I took a few pictures on what was a rather dull day. It was tempting to take a few apples too, but that would not have done, so we resisted.
The apples are sold in the shop, sent to the restaurant and some left for the wildlife - i.e. thrushes, mammals etc.
On another note, earlier on we witnessed an amazing sight - a mouse running along with a weasel attached to the end of its tail, right at our feet. It was a contest that was only going to end one way. Despite the mouse's best efforts to escape by clawing at the footpath in front of us, the weasel twisted round it like a snake in a sudden violent attack and bit its prey. There was a squeal and both disappeared into the flower bed. Quite shocking, amazing and exciting all at the same time - no camera at hand though unfortunately. Mouse for tea!
Tomorrow we are hoping to visit some Somerset orchards, so watch this space. Makes you want to eat one right now doesn't it?