Centenarian Orchards

Restoration of a Heritage Orchard

restor-preserve trees   Microsoft Word - Fall 2003 - The Forgotten Orchards of Derby Rea

In the 1890s, an orchard was planted on the land that in 1933 became the Markow family farm, and today flanks the Fort to Fort Trail in Derby Reach Regional Park.  Over time, the Fraser River washed away acres of this land, wind storms toppled many of the fruit trees, and invasive blackberries threatened to smother the trees that remained.  In 2004, under the guidance of a professional arborist on the board, DRBIPA began the job of saving and restoring these old trees with the help of Metro Vancouver Parks staff.  Today you can take a self-guided tour of the old trees (Apple Brochure), many of which still bear fruit that can be harvested and sampled at our Heritage Apple Day.

The New Floating Orchard

new tree in old orchard

In 2005, cuttings were taken from the old apple and pear trees in Derby Reach Regional Park, professionally grafted onto new root stock by Derry’s Orchard and Nursery and nurtured to become new young trees.  One such Northern Spy sapling was planted in the old orchard area.  In 2011, ten apple and pear saplings were planted out west of the Houston House in the new Floating Orchard.  This name derives from the fact the trees were planted above ground on plastic sheeting in soil surrounded by metal rings.  This unusual manner of planting avoids disrupting the ground by digging and respects an area that may be culturally significant to the Kwantlen First Nations.  Over the next few years, the tree roots grew, anchoring the trees until in 2014 the sheeting and rings could be removed.

With invaluable assistance of Metro Vancouver Park staff, DRBIPA volunteers will maintain the new orchard until such time as it can be incorporated into the adjoining picnic area.   In 2017 Derby Pear whips replaced two Winter Banana Apple Trees that did not make it through the winter. Four further attempts to establish fruit tress at these two sites also failed owing to the proximity of a large walnut tree.  In 2018 a Derby Pear was planted out in the park west of the original Derby Pear. The hope is that this rare pear will flourish both in the park and on private lands throughout North Langley and grow to deserve a new name the Derby Pear.