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Rabbit Rampage

Things do not always go according to plan. On the right as you enter the car park is an orchard planted mainly with apples, and a few plum trees They were planted around ten years ago, and have for the most part done well until last month.

In December we noticed some damage to the bark at the base of the trees, extending as high as twenty inches above ground level. This damage has accelerated with the majority of the trees now completely ring-barked, or girdled. This means the bark has been removed all the way round the trunk, and the tree will die as a result.

Bark is the tree’s circulatory system; sugars created by photosynthesis in the leaves are translocated throughout the tree, and water drawn up by the roots is distributed. The cause in this case is rabbits. Quite why they have attacked the trees now is a mystery. They have shown no interest before. It would be understandable if the ground had been snow-covered and other sources of food were scarce, but they have access to acres of grass and other vegetation, as well as younger saplings.

Since the trees are doomed, they have now been removed. The plan is to replace them (adding suitable rabbit defenses) with a selection of Cornish apples. We aim to plant a mixture of varieties which we will be able to supply to customers. There will be apples for eating, cooking, and making cider. It will be interesting to compare them in terms of vigour, appearance, and most importantly flavour, though there will be a little wait before the chefs can get to work with them.