The last tree in the avenue

22 January 2018

The cold weather that came in at the end of last year has returned and frozen ground could well slow down some of the winter landscape projects that we had lined up.

Fortunately, we did have a small opportunity to sow some grass seed on the new areas of lawn on the middle terrace – this is a grass mix suitable for cold germination so albeit a slow start we should start to see it green up in a few weeks’ time. Fairly soon, on the middle terrace, we will start taking out most of the old mature plants that have little horticultural merit from the buttress beds. This will leave us with some maturity from the plants that remain, as the ones chosen to stay will give us some initial height to cover the walls while the new plants will fill in the now deepened beds.

A plan is in progress for the rejuvenation of the buttress beds, which will introduce many new plants from around the world that will thrive in the microclimates provided by the buttresses and their south facing aspect. Some of these plants will be considered quite tender for this latitude and the intention is to include plants from all the continents. We have a bit of time to work on the plan as it will be best to leave the beds clear for a season to improve the soil and to ensure that we have thoroughly cleared out all the remnants of the previous plantings.

The middle terrace work will have to wait for a little while as we have the opportunity to complete another landscape project with a bit of outside help. This being the extension of the east avenue down to the east lodge. The Lime trees of the existing avenue will continue all the way down to the lodge house. This means removing all the old stumps of the trees that lined the road from the track crossroads onwards, dismantling the walls. removing the privet hedge and moving back the mounds of soil to give a slightly raised profile in line with the older avenue. The Lime trees will be Tilia x Europea, which is the same as the existing trees. Part of the reason for hurrying this project along is that it is important the trees are in as soon as possible as they need to be bare rooted. Container grown trees are all very well in a small protected garden, but these trees are going to be planted in an exposed situation for a long time, so it is imperative that they have good root systems that have not been encouraged to twist by being confined in a pot. We don’t want them falling over in 50 year’s time due to a storm breaking their deformed roots. I said that the avenue would be of Limes, and so it will be, but according to our historical researcher and others, the last tree in the avenue should not be a Lime so not wishing to break with any tradition or even chancing some misfortune Toby has chosen the last trees in the avenue to be Walnuts.

Our new vines have been planted outside the vine house and have been trained in through the holes in the wall and pruned to start forming their structure. This pruning of older brown wood must take place before the end of January as any later and the wounds will not seal soon enough to prevent sap bleeding when they start to grow again, pruning of the softer green unhardened new seasons growth can take place at any time during the summer.

In the next few weeks some time will be spent on winter pruning on some of our fruit trees and bushes. As I gave most of our apples and pears a hard-reshaping last winter, we will not need to do very much with them again this season as I do not wish to over invigorate them, it is more important now to summer prune them which reduces vigour and encourages fruiting. However, we will be able to practice on the soft fruit, such as gooseberries and red and white currants as they are treated in the same way – as if they were miniature apple trees. Lesley and Gavin are lined up for a course on fruit tree pruning, it has been postponed due to the weather lets hope they can complete it in time to put it into practice this season.

Well we are now looking forward to the excitement of starting the new season of seed sowing and propagating, but in the meantime I will put my thermals back on and pick up my shovel.

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