This orchard in Plaxtol is known as The Garratt and is sited in the centre of the village. It celebrates all that is fruit including the cobnut. Throughout this area, the cobnut orchards known as a plats are found round every corner.
Plaxtol community orchard is the remnant of an old orchard with some newer plantings. It can boast the cobnut, cherry plum, William’s Bon Chretien pear, apple and blackberry as resident in the orchard. Cherries were also a feature in the village behind the houses but they are the one fruit not found in the orchard. Stand at the top of the orchard and the views are fantastic over the distant orchards.
A cobnut is a cultivated hazelnut and sometimes known as a filbert and have been grown in gardens and orchards since at least the 16th century.
Many new cultivars were bred in the 19th century. The variety Kentish Cob was probably introduced in about 1830 and was so successful it soon supplanted most other varieties. Corylus maxima purpurea – Purple Giant Filbert is the variety growing in the orchard just at the entrance. It is a large shrub with dark purple leaves in spring, fading to dark green in the summer.
Cobnut production increased greatly, especially in the Home Counties, where the produce could be taken to the London markets by train.
By 1951, the area of cobnuts in Kent was estimated at no more than 730 acres (300 hectares), and by 1990 this had declined to about 250 acres (100 hectares) and many of the plats were derelict.
Cobnuts can be enjoyed throughout the year with their glorious catkins in late winter and later as a luxury food product from fudge to biscuits and cobnut oil.
A new entrance is planned for Plaxtol orchard depicting the heritage of this area and easing access to the orchard from the High Street.