When we moved to The Old Rectory in 2005, we were determined to make it a nicer place to live not only for ourselves, but also for the local wildlife-sometimes we find this frustrating when they eat our flowers or vegetables, but also it brings our guest and us a great deal of interest and pleasure. So this is what we have done so far:-
The Traditional Orchard
In our first winter at The Old Rectory, we started planting an Orchard in our one acre field. Whilst not perhaps as well known as the West Country as an apple growing area, Norfolk and Suffolk have a long history of making cider or as it is called locally 'cyder', which is made using a mixture of cooking and eating apples. Our orchard consists of over 150 trees grown on MM106 rootstock which means that they will grow to approximetly 12 feet high making them fairly easy to pick. The orchard consists of apple, pear and plum trees – all of the apple varieties originate from Victorian times or earlier and many are local varieties such as St Edmund’s Russet. Lord Stradbroke, Norfolk Beefing and Adams Pearmain. We are growing the trees without the use of chemicals
It is hoped that the Orchard will in time provide food and a home for wildlife as well as a source of fruit and Cyder for our guests and us. During July, there is usually a good show of Bee Orchids & Pyramidal Orchids
Our Wildlife Pond
In the Winter of 2009, we had a large wildlife pond dug – for once the fact that our soil is heavy clay played in to our hands as instead of the need for a pond liner, we were able to have it “puddled” - clay is the traditional and most eco friendly method of lining ponds. The clay was compacted on the inside of the empty pond to remove all the air spaces and to break down the structure. The pond is some 80 feet from side to side and has deep, shallow and boggy areas which we have planted so that it will provide habitats, cover, food and perches for a wide range of creatures attracted to The Old Rectory
Hedges & Trees
As well as our orchard we have also planted a large number of Native trees – Oak, Silver Birch, Hazel, Ash, Beech and Hornbeam and Hedging such as Wild Cherry, Wild Pear, Blackthorn, Quickthorn and Field Maple . Much of the hedging has edible berries or fruit to provide the birds with food.
As well as the trees that we have planted we have also inherited some beautiful mature trees – Oak, Yew, Silver Birch and a magnificent 85 foot Horse Chestnut. We have under-planted these with bulbs such as Aconites and Snowdrops.
We are beginning to develop an area of the field as a wildflower area and in our field & orchard we try to follow a mowing programme that is sympathetic to plants & wildlife.
The native flowers & grasses in the field include Birds Foot Trefoil,Black Knapweed, Bladder Campion, Common Knapweed, Greater Knapwood, Black Meddick, Common Vetch, Cowslip, Field Scabious, Hemp Agrimony, Ladies Bedstraw, Meadow Buttercup, Musk Mallow, Ox-Eye Daisy, Ribwort Plantain, Red Campion, Wild Red Clover, Rough Hawkbit, Sainfoin, Self Heal, Small Scabious, Tufted Vetch, Red Campion, White Campion, Wild Carrot, Wild Marjoram, Yarrow, Yellow Rattle
As for Grasses-Meadow Fecue, Smooth Stalked Meadow Grass, Crested Dogstail, Sheeps Fescue, Red Fescue, Browntop Bentgrass, Hard Fescue, Chewings Fescue can all be found
What animals & birds might you see during your stay at The Old Rectory?
All of the following are seen quite often at The Old Rectory – A Barn Owl, Muntjac Deer, rabbits (in abundance!),Squirrels, and many birds including Thrushes, Blackbirds, Swallows, 2 types of Woodpecker, Swifts, House Martins, Robins, Treecreepers, Chaffinch, Rooks, Dunnocks, Tits, Finches, Pheasants and sometimes Stoats.