Lawson Park Garden has just been accepted into the prestigious National Garden Scheme, or 'Yellow Book' as its called by those in the know. The scheme raises money for charity by opening mainly private gardens to the public, and usually offering teas and plant sales alongside. Grizedale sees its participation as part of its education and outreach work, communicating its overall aims to new audiences through the garden and land programme.
We haven't yet confirmed the open date but it's likely to be late August 2008.
Whilst the local NGS coordinator braved the sodden garden, George got on with the long-awaited planting up of the new bog garden. I joined him for the afternoon, at which point the general dampness turned into a steady downpour. However, though this may be nasty for humans, for the bog plants - Primulas, ferns and irises - it was perfect.
Though I've spent a fair amount of time in Japan in the last few years, I sadly didn't manage to meet any of the country's many highly skilled gardeners.
'Niwaki' by Jake Hobson (Timber Press) is thus a godsend for the gradual Japanification that is happening in the garden as much as in the kitchen here.
We have plans to place a Japanese Tea House in our meadow, and to form a bridge between it and the native plants all around I decided to prune some of the very characterful ancient hawthorn nearby in the 'Niwaki' style. Of course I forgot to take the 'Before' picture, but here is the 'After'. The process basically means pruning, tying down and staking trees to 'fake' a kind of premature aging, concentrating on encouraging horizontal growth, 'pads' of foliage, and opening up views into the bark and limbs of the specimen. With already ancient trees like this one, the process is a little easier and faster than it might be with, say, a new bonsai - which is more or less the same process but smaller.
No idea how these self-sown trees will take to this treatment, so watch this space for a 2008 report.
Sat 25th and Sun 26th August
Volunteer for a weekend of hand scything and stacking at Lawson Park's exceptional upland hay meadows in the Lake District, Cumbria. The meadows are a local bio diversity priority having a wide range of wild flowers, grasses and butterflies.
3 hearty meals and overnight camping offered.
Call 015394 41050 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org for more information or to volunteer.
The bounty of summer, these chantrelles are the big heavy kind particularly plentiful this year, who knows why?
The bees swarmed for the second time this week, luckily they settled on this post making it easy to catch and re hive them.
Like all DIY, a good hedge is all in the preparation.
In the dead of winter, January 2005, Adam dug a magnificent trench snaking across a hilly area to the east of Lawson Park's farmhouse, backfilling it with well rotted manure and breaking up the soil. It was about 2 feet deep, no mean feat in the this area of no topsoil. We planted, we mulched, we clipped (a lot, new hedges need almost brutal clipping in the first few years if you want a good, solid shape).
Now, just three years later we have this - 2 metre high in places - to look upon: we call it the Red Hedge because into the native mix of guelder rose, hazel, holly, blackthorn etc there are a few roses for summer colour and autumn hips - here is pictured my favourite in the foreground - Rosa moyesii geranium - the picture doesnt do its warm cerise blooms justice - it always reminds me of my friend Nina who loves this colour so much she's getting married in it this summer.
A couple of weeks ago I walked up to Ruskin's Seat on the neighbouring Brantwood Estate at 9pm at night and cast a really analytical eye on the landscape. I have some new garden areas to plant up soon, and they are in what I term the Woodland Garden, so I am keen to keep it low-key and inspired by the surrounding landscape. The evening light was exquisite, the grasses and bilberries and mosses all distinct in shape still but woven into a dense low canopy. Each plant colony had a dense hub and then a broad, spreading mass of smaller satellite groups. The pale grass stems were highlighted against the dark moss, and the blueberry hummocks almost share the formality of box at this time of the year. The only colour was the beginnings of the bell heather in sparse rocky places. The few trees / shrubs - junipers and hollies up here are wizened and sculpted, multi-stemmed specimens.
Look and learn, I thought.