A Tree Isn’t Just for Christmas.

14 December 2018

The gardening team have moved on from the big edging project, to the first of the winter planting jobs at the west lodge.

We have planted evergreen screens to give the lodge both visual and noise protection, the most effective sound screening for year-round comes from large leaved evergreens which are best grown wide to absorb more efficiently. The plants we have used for the job are Holm Oak and Portugal Laurel.

Holm Oak is very rarely used for hedging and screening, but it is superb for this purpose as when pruned it forms a very dense and bushy plant. There is a very good example of Holm Oak as hedging in Christopher Lloyd’s garden at Great Dixter. The great man is no longer with us, but the hedges should be there as his legacy for a very long time.

Portugal Laurel is more commonly used than Holm Oak for screening in this country but has several benefits that make it better than the common Laurel. The main one being that it is much more tolerant of alkaline soils and does not go a pale-yellow colour when grown in them. We have used the laurel in the more heavily shaded areas under the canopy of the existing mature trees where it should thrive.

The Beech hedge that lines the west drive down towards the lodge has been extended right up to the house and thus gives continuity to the drive as well as privacy and seclusion to the garden. Beech hedges can be quite difficult to establish so it really does pay to give them the best possible start.  We began by excavated a trench one foot deep and about a foot wide. For the length of hedge, we were doing which was almost 200 metres long we decided to use a mini digger! To the bottom of the trench we applied a layer of our own compost then the trench is back-filled almost to ground level so that the plants can be put into the loose fill, the beech are then planted and lightly firmed in, the spacing should be 6 to the running metre in a double row i.e. 3 along one side three along the other, staggered and all roughly one foot apart, to finish off the rest of the soil is applied mounded up at the base which will in time will settle down to ground level. It is then a good idea to mulch the surface with more organic material.

When we return in the new year the main job for the first few weeks will be more tree planting. This time in the policies surrounding the house. The planting will be done in 2 phases, this year we are going to start off with 26 individual specimens these will be protected with the steel cages called park guards these are sturdy enough to keep the cattle away from the trees and are much lower maintenance and easier to install than wooden post and rails. Amongst the trees will be some stately specimens such as Wellingtonia and Cedar of Lebanon.

There will also be several roundels or fenced off areas that will effectively be mini woodland islands or corners in the meadows These will be made up mainly of native hardwoods and some Scots Pine, planted at different sizes to ensure establishment. There will also be under-planting of shrubby natives such as Holly, Hazel, Hawthorn, Guelder Rose and several other species.

It sounds like a very busy start to the new year, so we are going to enjoy our Xmas rest and come back ready to plant a forest.

Enjoy your gardening Duncan and the gardens team

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