We have a juniper propagation programme at Hepple that is supported by the National Park and Natural England. When we harvest our green berries in the autumn we also gather a harvest of ripe purple berries that sit alongside the young green fruit. These purple berries are passed to our propagator-in-chief Lucy, Walter’s wife who carefully removes the inhibitor layer before sorting the seeds for viability. It takes up to two winters before germination occurs. Every year we plant out a few hundred seedlings that in due course will amplify the natural regeneration of juniper on the moor.
Over the past few years the legends of the food and drink world have helped in our planting. Alex Kratena, Monica Berg, Joerg Meyer, AK Hada and many many others – oh, including one of the most famous plantsmen in the kingdom! Each has a young juniper named after them, we record its GPS and monitor its progress on our plant database. After fifteen years, if the seedling is female, we would expect to be able to make the first harvest.
In 2020 we are opening this programme out for wider participation…. watch this space….
A visit to Hepple Estate at any time of the year restores my soul. What I particularly love about going there is the genuine desire of those who own and work at Hepple to make their livelihoods in harmony with this amazing place. They recognise just how special Hepple is and are willing to share knowledge and ideas, and work with others to conserve and enhance it.MARY GOUGH – Rural development and conservation officer, Northumberland National Park
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