Orchard de Uithof

One of the oldest municipal orchards is located in the recreational nature reserve De Uithof in The Hague South-West. There are old apple, plum, cherry and pear trees that are managed by the municipality. The orchard is freely accessible, but is closed in the summer to protect the ripening fruit.

The Uithof

The orchard is located in the Uithof recreational area. De Uithof is located on the edge of The Hague and, together with the Madestijn nature reserve, forms a green buffer between The Hague and the Westland greenhouse area. The area originated from the Uithofspolder, which owes its name to its function as Uithof. An Uithof was a farm located outside the walls of a monastery, but belonging to it. The Adrianahoeve, now a riding school, dates from the time when the area was still a polder. There are sources that indicate that the current Uithof was part of the ter Lee monastery in Warmond. Nowadays visitors can go hiking, cycling, horse riding and mountain biking. In addition, there is a sports center of the same name where even more activities can be enjoyed.

Picking days

Every year, the municipality organizes a picking day in the orchard for all residents of The Hague, where residents of The Hague can pick apples and pears for free. Of course it depends on when the fruit is ripe enough, but usually this picking day is in September. Sometimes a picking day is also organized early in August, when the plums can be picked. Registration is required, participation is free. Each visitor is allowed inside for 20 minutes to fill a bag. These rules were introduced after the first picking day was very chaotic. Many people came for the free fruit and not every visitor was careful with the trees. The municipality has now increased supervision of the picking days to ensure that the trees are not damaged, so that everyone can enjoy the orchard for a long time to come.

Animals

Not only the residents of The Hague can enjoy the fruit, but many animals also use the orchard to their advantage. Because there are many large trees, the fence is closed for part of the year and not all the fruit makes it to the picking day and falls on the grass, ducks and other birds are often seen guests in the area. When the gate is closed, even pheasants and hares can be seen. Due to the municipality’s nature-friendly mowing policy, many wild bees and bumblebees can be seen flocking to the flowering plants and fruit trees. Finally, in the winter of 2017/2018, sheep became temporary residents of the orchard.

Beekeeping

To promote the growth of the trees, the municipality has made room for a beekeeper. There is a small apiary where a hobby beekeeper (Imkerij Boomgaard de Uithof) has three to five bee colonies. The apiary itself is fairly hidden from view by plants. The municipality of The Hague encourages green roofs and has therefore also had the roof of the stable covered with sedum. The honey from these bee colonies tastes like the apple and pear blossoms that the bees fly on. The fact that the bees mainly fly on the blossoms of the fruit trees can not only be tasted, but also noticeable for the beekeeper due to the enormous growth of the bee colonies in the spring. The beekeeper harvests honey from the hives mainly in the spring, so that the bees can build up a supply for the rest of the summer to get through the winter.