Lawson Park is joining the UK's NGS coveted Yellow Book, opening for the first time on Sunday 24th August from 12 - 7pm. Start praying for good weather and no midges now!
You cansee our entry by typing in 'Lawson Park' on the NGS website here.
James is back!
What our ex-gardener George called 'the second cup of the grass bra' is being constructed - a drystone wall superflat platform at the highest point of the Farmhouse Garden. This echoes the only 'proper lawn' in the garden, opposite on the other side of the stream (in the Moorland Garden) and also constructed by James last summer. It's almost eyelid shaped, and - uniquely for this garden - totally level. The idea is to also echo the planting on both sides - but instead of English lawn we'll have a swathe of stipa arundinacea which I grew from seed when we started the garden in 2001/2 and a low pine I have been 'niwaki' ing in a Japanese style.
To think of the transitions this always tricky part of the garden has been through - I once, ludicrously, planted it with the most unhappy asparagus you've ever seen. I hope this its last transformation for a while....
So its 6 weeks on and although we appear to be in exactly the same place ie poised ready for the roof to come off (with snow forecast at the weekend) we are in fact in a very different place.
After an extended period of discussion, consultation and much staring at walls, a revised sequence of work has been agreed this involves; ongoing excavations and demolitions, completing the new foundations and floor slab, making new openings and rebuilding internal walls and finally taking the roof off, at which point the building should stay standing without it...work continues very tentatively.
Last week former farmer and Coniston milkman David Johnston was kind enough to spend an afternoon with us on site, teaching us how to hedge lay correctly.
We worked on our oldest hedgerow, planted by Adam and I in 2001 when Adam had just moved in. I still remember the mud, the mud.
Now easily over 7 feet tall in places - and maintained carefully in the last few years by our sadly now gone gardener George Watson - it was just mature enough to start its career.
The laying was a slow but delicious experience, out in the winter sun. It needs various axes, billhooks and saws, the gist of it being to hack at ground level almost through the main stem of your hedging plant until you have what is called the 'pleacher'. You then carefully tidy the base of this up and lay it over to one side, tucking in its twiggy brash and staking it at intervals for extra cohesion. If you've ever waited patiently for a hedge to grow you'll guess how nerve-wracking for a beginner this surgery can be.
Townies may well be wondering why you grow a nice tall hedge only to slice it to ribbons and turn it into a tiny hedge? Well, traditionally this practice made a sound stock (thats animals)-proof barrier without needing stone or fencing materials. Clever huh? The near-horizontal plants are rejuvenated by the treatment, growing more vigorously as a result. In another 7 or so years, you repeat the process.
And we think it looks very cool too.
As part of Bryan & Laura Davies' The Wonderful North roadtrip / travelogue, last weekend saw a group of artists volunteer to plant 80 metres of native hedgerow in our paddy field enclosure. Guestroom (Maria & Ruth), Bryan & Laura, Jay Yung, Lisa, Alistair, Adam & me (from Grizedale Arts) planted nearly 400 mixed hazel, sloe, guelder rose, hawthorn, wild rose, beech, and holly - all to offset Bryan & Laura's petrol consumption on their trip.
The artists are all due to go to China on R & D with GA in the spring, and so this was also a bonding exercise for them, especially as they had to weather a night at Parkamoor farm.
Two more trees are due to be planted on the paddies as part of the same scheme, a native bird cherry and a Japanese weeping cherry to celebrate the relationship between Grizedale Arts and Toge village, who landscaped the paddies with us last spring as a continuation of the 'Seven Samurai' project.
It’s a worrying time in the world of Lawson Park the engineers have been called in to check the structural integrity of the building before the roof can be removed. The underlying concern seems to be that it’s the roof that’s holding the whole building together now that all of the beams and floors have been taken out, add to that 70mph winds and it seems like quite a bad time to be on a roof, on a farm, on a hill.
This was always going to a potentially worrying time, the great unknown, how strong would the dry stone, rubble built walls prove to be, is the building actually sitting on bedrock (they’ve not found it yet) and now facing a severe weather warning and 20cm of snow forecast overnight whether the building will stand up without a roof to protect it?
Tomorrow is the first monthly site meeting, and everyone is on standby to see if we can even make it through the snow to Lawson Park, who’s idea was it to start this in January!
Leck are moving quickly through the building and are now stripping out the interior of the cottage, the mountain of wood outside is growing by the minute, meanwhile on the other side of the building the scaffolding is being erected, ready for work to begin on the roof.
An interesting site meeting today to discuss and co-ordinate the process for the installation of the ground source heat system for Lawson Park. This system is designed to extract heat from the earth to provide the heating and hot water for the new building. As the geology of the site is principally bedrock, a series of seven vertical boreholes are going be drilled, up to 70m deep, these are then connected via a loop system filled with refrigerant to a heat exchange system which connects to the underfloor heating and hot water system.
For more information on ground source heat pumps
Well its the end of the first week of building work at Lawson Park and things are progressing well, although the weather has been so awful this must be the first day the contractors have glimpsed the 'Old Man of Coniston', a view which is omnipresent from our office, the Black Moss, surely a strong contender for best view from an office?
As part of the re-development of the Lawson Park site we are hoping to underground the overhead power cables which pass directly across this spectacular view. We are meeting the Friends of the Lake District next week and are hopeful they might be able to include Lawson Park in their
Overhead Wires Project