the orchards today

The middle reaches of the Clyde Valley between Lanark and Motherwell, winds its way through scenic countryside of rolling farmland, woodlands and small towns and villages. Orchards are a characteristic feature of this landscape, in spring producing a wave of blossom on the valley slopes and in the autumn, a rich crop of apples, plums and other fruit.

The sheltered slopes of the valley, with their well-drained soils and moderate rainfall, are particularly good for fruit growing. Their location, not far from some of Scotland’s major cities and towns, was also an important factor in their development, particularly during the period of industrial growth in the Central Belt.

status of the orchards

A study of the Clyde Valley orchards, commissioned by Scottish Natural Heritage in 2001 (IF-report), found over 70 orchards along the 10 miles of valley between Lanark and Wishaw. The estimated area of these orchards was thought to be around 64 hectares. Although this is a good number, it compares poorly with records of the same area in 1908 where approximately 307 hectares of commercial orchards were recorded.

A total of 53 varieties of fruit were identified within the 60 orchards that were recently surveyed, although not all types present were identified and there are likely to be undiscovered varieties.

The change in degree and type of management of the Clyde Valley orchards over the centuries has left us with a number of different kinds. Where they are managed, they are generally similar to the traditional model in that they are not densely planted, are dominated by older ‘standard’ trees, and are sometimes grazed by livestock. Some owners have, and do use chemicals but these days this tends to be minimal. We have neglected orchards, garden orchards, those managed to enhance wildlife, and a few with more ‘modern’ commercial methods of management.