From the first year at Roots and Shoots in 1999 David wanted to increase the presence of Apples both in the Wildlife Garden and at Roots and Shoots in general. At that time there was only one apple tree in the garden - a 'family apple' planted near to where the Children's Shelter is now. The apiary was disused along the greenhouse side of the garden and there was an aim in the first year to re-instal hives. As part of the design for the garden in this area - close to the old entrance gate - David planned a row of espalier-trained apple trees along the pathway between it and the apiary. This would make a 'living apple fence' to help control class groups of children, slowing down people movement and discouraging sudden entry to the apiary. This apple fence is now a major feature as you enter from the oak gate and ramp to the garden.
David wanted to establish Apple Days as part of the Roots and Shoots calendar under the label of National Apple Day organised by Common Ground. We ran the first Apple Day in autumn 1999 - a small affair - and then expanded them each year.
As part of our early work on improving the Lambeth Walk Open Space we started to establish a new orchard of the apple variety "Cellini" from 2003/4. David started to run Apple Days from autumn 1999 and in 2003 applied for funding to make a film about apples. In collaboration with Reen Pilkington, a local photographer and film-maker, we made "ALL OUR APPLE DAYS". The film explores the origins and history of the apple, how people have enjoyed, used and bred apples and features the wildlife garden, the children of Walnut Tree Walk Primary School, Keepers Nursery near Maidstone and our great friends, David and Gayle Whittingham pressing their "Orchard Bounty Apple Juice" in the barns of their farm in the Usk Valley, Wales. Apart from being shown at many of our subsequent Apple Days and on the Community Channel, the film also led to David and Gayle donating their pressing equipment to Roots and Shoots in 2004 and to the planting of the Cellini Apple in Lambeth Walk Open Space.
"Cellini" is a variety that was bred in our area in 1828 - in the nurseries of Leonard Phillips near Vauxhall (roughly where New Covent Garden Market is now). It is the 'Vauxhall Apple'! We have gradually added new trees to the open space in the years since then producing the interesting orchard-and-meadow landscape we manage now. Unfortunately, there has been some vandalism to trees over the years, with the oldest one completely destroyed in 2009, another stolen, complete with stakes, and others damaged by dogs. We have persistently replaced and cared for the trees and do hope they will one day mature. They are up against it though - this is also a demolition site and there is much concrete, tarmac and rubble beneath the thin covering of turf. There is an interpretation sign in the space with details of individual trees and some history of Cellini. You can also find out more at each of our annual Apple Days at the beginning of October.