The Orchard Today

The orchard today represents a tiny fraction (about 1%) of the Rivers Nursery site to its full extent. Together with the surrounding meadow and scrubland, it contributes tremendously to the green spaces in Sawbridgeworth. RHSO volunteers maintain the site according to our management plan to maintain our veteran trees and promote community enjoyment. The group welcomes help from all enthusiastic members of the town (and beyond) to help us in this goal. RHSO members are available to talk about the site today to local groups. If interested, please e-mail us.

The importance of the Rivers legacy to the community of Sawbridgeworth cannot be over-estimated. Part of this inheritance is the Rivers Nursery Site and Orchard which is a wonderful treasury of different fruit varieties and a very rich habitat for ever-expanding numbers of diverse flora and fauna. It is the home for almost 600 fruit trees on a 4 acre site, comprising 76 different apple varieties (identified with the help of those behind the fruitID project), including the eponymous Thomas Rivers apple. The orchard contains the most extensive collection of plums in England; at least 30 different types are present. 15 pear varieties have been recorded and cherries are the next fruits to be identified. The Orchard includes the Conference pear and the Czar plum, two of the most well-known of the many fruits that have been raised or introduced by the Rivers family.

To date, 204 different species of flora and fauna have been surveyed and recorded, including species in danger of extinction such as the Turtle Dove, the Song Thrush, and the White Letter Hairstreak, Brown Argus, Small Copper and Small Blue butterflies. There are 3 orchids benefitting from the Site's specific conditions: the Bee, Pyramidal and Common Spotted. Other species of special interest include the Woodcock, the Stag Beetle and the Brimstone Butterfly.