The seasons roll round again. By mid-November most of the 2021 sculptures had left the garden. Thanks to a spell of decent weather I am glad to report that there was little trace on the ground afterwards despite Andy Hopper’s piece needing skilful tele-handling. My thanks again to the sculpture and garden volunteers for all their help with this big undertaking.
The recent storm and gale force winds, however, took their toll causing two trees on the estate to fall. On inspection both were already weakened by Honey fungus and it was this weakening of the roots that caused their demise. Interestingly, the large Pinus muricata that we strapped together several years ago, to save it from just this sort of event, was unaffected and continues to flourish.
Quiet times on short days are a priority. We try hard to keep the loudest garden work (leaf blower, chainsaw etc) before 11 am so that visitors can enjoy more quiet time on these short days. It is a difficult balance. Other gardens close at least one day a week for maintenance while we stay open everyday.
Apprentice gardener Jack has settled in well and we are glad of his support on the day-to-day jobs. Jack had been a volunteer for some time before this opportunity arose and took on this challenge as part of a career change. He spends one week a month studying at Bicton College. I think it is fair to say that being the oldest trainee on the Bicton course is not always a treat for him! The rest of his time, however, is spent in the garden and nursery, here, learning the trade in real time. His work includes assisting with the Honey Fungus trial monitoring and so spans a mix of old and new technology. The breadth of experience we can offer here at Stone Lane should be very valuable for him in the future.
In the nursery, in November, we started to lift and ship the trees that had been reserved by customers through the summer. Tree sales are going well, with a lot of interest, this year, in the coloured barked Himalayan and Chinese birch, as well as the usual white barked varieties. As a specialist nursery, we always encourage customers to plant the many lovely Chinese birch, which are beautiful trees but less often seen in gardens in the UK. This is also the point for the quick reminder that, ‘as a Friend’, you are entitled to 30% discount on any tree orders. There is still time to order for this season, if you have questions you can drop me an email. We are very busy in the nursery but I will be glad to hear from you and reply as quickly as I can,
Our volunteers have been busy despite the shorter days. Together, we have improved the polytunnel, kept our out-buildings, fencing, tea room and toilets in good shape, kept order in the nursery and of course, looked after the trees. We are a good team. We always welcome new volunteers to our friendly and loyal group so if you are interested in joining our workforce, please get in touch. Volunteer days are Wednesdays or Fridays: it’s a very rewarding and relaxed environment (with cake!).
Sticklepath and Okehampton Conservation Group spent a valuable day here last month, helping to clear part of our woodland adjacent to the farmyard. The Conservation teams are a real asset to the garden. We are looking forward to some more hands on help from the Chagford Conservation Group again, early next year, as we move into Salter Wood and the new pond preparation and planting.
We hope to open parts of Salter Wood to visitors next year is all goes well. The Concept plan is coming to life as Annabel Crowley starts work on the detail and planting schemes around the tea room and entrances into the new arboretum. Exciting times ahead with some spade and digger work planned before March – if the weather allows.
Season’s Greetings and best wishes for a happy healthy 2022, Paul.