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Pruning of fruit trees workshop 28th Feb 2015

fruit tree pruning feb 2015Saturday 28 February 2015 This half-day practical hands-on workshop organised by Melbourne Area Transition with the National Trust runs from 10am to 1pm at Southwood Farm, near Ticknall.

You will learn the basics of winter pruning to shape and prepare young trees and to improve the health and productivity of old fruit trees.

What will the pruning fruit trees workshop cover?

The workshop will provide participants with the basic skills through hands-on practical work to renovate and prune old apple trees and prepare young trees. These skills are essential to anyone caring for fruit trees, but the expertise to carry out this work is not very widespread or accessible. Fruit trees that are not properly cared for often become unproductive and diseased, frequently causing them to die prematurely.

Who is the workshop for?

This workshop is open to anyone aged 16 or over. No prior knowledge of pruning is needed. It is a practically based workshop. Participants should be willing, and consider themselves physically able, to ‘have a go’. While ladders are often required to gain access to taller trees, we will be learning on trees where it is feasible to prune without leaving the ground. You must also be willing to spend 3 hours out of doors!

The site

Southwood Farm is on the Calke to Ticknall road near Melbourne in South Derbyshire. Please advise when booking if you need detailed directions or help with transport from Melbourne area. There is no nearby public transport, although it is a pleasant 2-mile walk through the Calke Estate from the number 61 bus route which runs through Ticknall.

Learning methods and outcomes

A brief introduction will cover what participants want from the workshop and the reasons for winter pruning. The rest of the workshop will be practical hands-on experience with guidance from the tutor: assessing the health of the trees, deciding on a strategy, tools and techniques, and practice. By the end of the workshop, participants will have the practical skills necessary to carry out early shaping and renovation pruning of fruit trees without supervision.

Workshop tutor:  

Expert tuition will be provided by Paul Simpson, one of the lead gardeners with the National Trust, Calke Estate.


We strongly advise that anyone who intends to prune trees should have good tools. We advise that you bring your favourite tools to the course, though the National Trust will also be providing tools that can be borrowed.

  • A good quality pair of clean, sharp secateurs
  • A good quality clean sharp pruning sawThis book is recommended, but it is not necessary for those attending to buy or read it. RHS Pruning and Training, Christopher Brickell and David JoyceFees include expert tuition, soup (cooked on rocket stoves) and bread lunch, refreshments and optional tour of Tollgate Brewery on the same site. Depending on weather conditions, there may also be an afternoon option to visit the nearby Whistlewood Common to see the 150+ young fruit trees and 40+ mature pear trees at that venue


£30, payable on booking to Melbourne Area Transition UK.

Some concessionary places available – please discuss when making your booking if you think you might qualify.

Melbourne Area Transition endeavours to make its courses and events affordable to all. Unfortunately, we do not receive any external funding and rely on large amounts of voluntary input.

Booking the pruning course

Booking is essential, as most of our courses/events rapidly become fully booked. However, if places are still available, then bookings can be made until midday the day before the course/event. Payment within 7 days of booking please. Your place is not secured until we have received the requested payment.

Book the 28 February 2015 workshop by phoning 01332-862028 or emailing



Treeplanting 20th and 21st February 2015

This will be our last lot of major treeplanting so come and plant a tree at our pioneering project.  We have over 1000 whips (young trees) to plant so it’s all hands on deck for this big event.  Please bring a spade, suitable clothing and footwear.

Timing on both Friday and Saturday is 10 – 3pm.

feb 2015 treeplanting jpeg


Fruit tree planting Friday 5th and Saturday 6th December

Come and help plant 150 fruit trees on Friday and Saturday.  Apples, Pears, Cherries, Plums, Damsons, Quinces, Medlars and Walnuts, along with fruit bushes.

10am to 3pm both days.

Bring a spade if you have one, a wheelbarrow too (if you can), and warm clothes and wellingtons.

There is no parking on the site due to the weather so please park at Dovesite (opposite the Whistlewood entrance)  At Dovesite please park along the edge of the drive, not blocking access for lorries.

Alternatively you can take the bus (from Melbourne, Derby, Chellaston, Ticknall or Swadlincote) and get off directly opposite the site.   Or walk from Melbourne – directly at the top of Robinson’s Hill, take the footpath towards Milton, then take the first left across Stafford’s Wood.  There is an entrance into Whistlewood below the aircraft hanger/pear orchard.

Our thanks go to: The Tree Council, MillionTrees Derbyshire, the Woodland Trust, the National Forest Company and South Derbyshire District Council for their support in this project.

orchard treeplanting poster december 2014

Barn Dance Friday 21st November

Barn Dance tickets now on sale.

Friday 21st November at 7.30pm at Melbourne Assembly Rooms.

Dancing, music, licensed bar and cakes.
There will also be some great handmade crafts and other items on sale.

Tickets from Forteys Melbourne or from Sarah or Rose.
£5 adults, £3 children and £15 family ticket.

Helpers needed to run the bar and make cakes please.
Also any prizes for the raffle gratefully received.Barn dance poster 2014jpg

Halloween Fun Sunday October 26th

Halloween poster 2014 jpg

Whistlewood AGM this Wednesday

Whistlewood Common AGM

Wednesday 15th October at 7pm in the Senior Citizens Centre.

Followed at 7.45 by a talk by Philip Heath on the History of Food Production in Melbourne.  (all welcome – only members will be able to vote at the AGM)

What’s coming up – September and October

Hire the yurt at Whistlewood – 3 – 18th September.

Whistlewood Working Wednesdays – every Wednesday.  Email for more details.  Or if you work in the week and want to put in a day’s work at the weekend let us know too.    We are currently looking for volunteers to dig out a shallow base for our store and kitchen which are waiting to be delivered.

Melbourne Festival – help at the food festival or come and press your apples.  13/14th September

Hire the apple press, see for more details.

Great Melbourne Sewing Bee (part of Melbourne Festival), 27 Sept and 4 Oct

Elvaston Woodland Festival – 27 and 28 September.  Helpers needed.

AGM and Melbourne’s food history talk – Wednesday 15th October 7pm

Barn dance – 21 November

Tree planting December and February.

For more details on any of these please see our facebook page or email

Upcoming events

There are some great things happening in June:

Friday 27th June – THE MIDSUMMER CEILIDH AND CAMP.   The big fundraiser. (camping optional). Please support this event and get your tickets soon.  Tickets from:

Saturday 7th June – compost toilet making, tree mulching, wildflower meadow creation and making a rammed earth base for the yurt.

Friday 20th June – evening moth watch

Saturday 21st June – wildlife bioblitz.  11 – 2.  Children’s planning event 2 – 4.


Easter Egg Hunt, chicken event and wildflowers

On Easter Saturday Whistlewood will be hosting an Easter Egg Hunt (£3), a chicken-keeping event – ever thought about keeping chickens?, and a wildflower patch dig (bring a spade).chicken event Easter Egg Hunt

Tree planting 21st and 22nd March 2014


We did it!  Over 100 people – young and old, came to plant trees on Friday and Saturday 21st and 22nd March.  We had representatives of schools, cubs, scouts, the National Forest Company, Melbourne Parish Council, East Midlands Bodgers, Melbourne Parish Church and many more individuals, adults and children.  We planted over 2000 trees and hedging plants, met fantastic new people, and had fun whilst doing it.   On the site we saw herons, hawks, field mice and voles too.

The trees were kindly donated by Million Trees Derbyshire and The Woodland Trust and the planting took place as part of the Big Tree Plant.

The next job will be mulching them to keep the grass down, so watch this space for details of when we can do it.