This beautiful nature reserve in near Feltham, Hounslow lies on the banks of the River Crane. The site is home to species-rich wildflower meadows, a damp woodland and a large number of veteran apple and pear trees. Over the course of 2017 and 2018 local volunteers planted 20 young fruit trees including the rare Hounslow Wonder.
Where can I find it? The site forms a loop around the South West Middlesex Crematorium, TW13 5JH. The entrance is at the junction between the Hounslow Road and Pevensey Road. Map here.
Can I visit? It is open to the public year round. Volunteer sessions are held here every Monday 10:45am until 2pm by the Green Gym Rangers. Find out more on TCV’s website.
How do I get there? 20 minute walk from Feltham station. The 111 and the H25 busses stop at the reserve entrance.
What is there? There are 25 veteran trees scattered across the site, mainly apple and pear. These trees have not been identified and some are likely to be seedlings. There are 20 young fruit trees planted in 2017/18. These are apple, pear, cherry and plum and include the rare Hounslow Wonder.
History of the orchard: The history of this orchard is unclear. We know that there was a farm on the site until the early 20th century and the old maps show orchards in the surrounding fields. A sewage works was built here in the 1940s but quickly abandoned, leaving the surrounding area as a public space and nature reserve. The large number of apple and pear trees on site would suggest this was a formal orchard, although who planted the trees and when is still unclear.
Biodiversity highlights & habitat: The range of habitat types here provides a home to a wealth of wildlife. Red kites, buzzards and kestrels are often seen and if you’re lucky you might spot a kingfisher in the woodland. The meadows and scrub provide a home to numerous invertebrates including stag beetles and green hairstreak butterflies. Aside from fruit trees the site is home to notable black poplar and veteran alder trees.
Community: There are weekly volunteer sessions held on Monday with the Hounslow Green Gym Rangers https://www.tcv.org.uk/london/green-gym-london/hounslow-green-gym
Friends of the River Crane Environment hold regular walks and volunteering sessions along the Crane corridor https://www.force.org.uk/
Working together: TOP have been working the Green Gym rangers since early 2018 to provide adivce on the management of the site. Formative pruning of the young trees and restorative pruning of the veteran trees took place. The group were also trained in grafting using local varieties Hounslow Wonder, Feltham Beauty and Scarlet Pearmain.
Pevensey are regular donors to Local Fox cider with a harvest and apple day held in 2018 with apple pressing and a bake-off in the orchard.