Even when the year is at it's quietest there is yet much to be done. The first thing is to wish happy new year to the nieghbour's bees, sleeping in their hives in the hedgerow of the lower field, and to remind them that when the spring comes we will need them up in the orchard. The English bee keeping tradition of telling the bees says that the bees must be told all family news, and to this end I wandered down to pass a quiet minute chatting with them about plans for the coming year. Bees attended we then turned to the trees and the winter pruning of apples and damsons.
After consulting John's ancient copy of The Pomarium Brittanicum on orchard care which recommends a gentle winter pruning to remove, crossing branches, dead wood and suckers, we set out amongst the trees.
All that is left to now get the year off to a good start is to wassail the orchard to wake up the trees.
"Wassaile the trees, that they may beare
You many a Plum and many a Peare:
For more or lesse fruits they will bring,
As you do give them Wassailing.”
Crook Morris will be wassailing the damson orchards of the Lyth Valley this weekend. If you want to hear a joyful racket, watch a neat footed dance and toast the trees with some potent damson beer, (- and who wouldn't want such fun?) be in the Lyth Valley Hotel car park at 11.30 on Saturday 11th Jan. And for wassailing E17 style catch the Walthamstow Wassail which will toast and sing to the bee hives of Bee17 and fruit trees as it makes its' way from the Nags Head 2pm, via Chesnuts Farm allotments and on to the Rose and Crown for 8pm.
A Hot Wassail Punch
Ingredients; 4 pints of cider, 1 pint of cranberry juice, 1/2 tablespoon of bitters, 2 cinnamon stcks, some allspice berries, an orange studded with some cloves and a cup of fine dark rum
Combine all and heat gently, serve hot from a Wassail cup, and hold in cold hands whilst stamping your feet and singing loudly. (Image by Pauline Baynes )