January – tree planting time! We are in our second year planting and restoring hedgerows at a 200-year-old farm in Ceredigion. We use bare-root trees a for large-scale planting jobs, as they are lightweight and economical.
We are planting a native mix including hawthorn, guelder rose, field maple, rowan, oak, spindle, hazel and hornbeam. These will provide food and shelter for birds, small mammals and insects.
Bareroot trees are often planted through plastic to keep weeds down and allow the trees to establish. We have come up with a natural and biodegradable alternative – each tree is protected with a handful of sheep wool covered with woodshavings.
We planted over one thousand trees last winter, and hope to do more this year. On a dry, clear day it’s a wonderful job, but winter in Wales is often very wet indeed….
This is a quiet time of year for the vegetable garden and a great opportunity to perfect the design and layout. This vegetable garden was built last year for a family in lockdown, and is now being enhanced with levelling, extra beds and new paths.
Here, an additional boundary wall is being built to enclose the newly levelled vegetable garden. Once the ground has dried out, the beds will be replaced and the paths put in. Time to get the seed catalogues out….
2020 was a difficult year, but I was very glad to have an opportunity to visit the Sand Garden in the summer. We completed work on this garden early in 2019.
The Sand Garden (see previous blog entry) was one of the most challenging we ever designed and created, with more practical problems than any other garden. Tons and tons of sand were moved by minidigger and barrow to create the gently sloped paths. The terraces are retained by solid larch timbers. A large soakaway is dug in the centre of the garden to prevent water running down the slopes and washing the sand away.
The paths were made with modular squares laid over heavy-duty landscaping fabric. Next, the modules were filled with 10mm chippings, giving a surface which provides good drainage and excellent grip for feet, wheelbarrows and mobility scooters.
A natural stone wall was added to the seating area to give it a different feel. The warmth of the sun is held in the stones for many hours, perfect for those evening glasses of wine while enjoying the view. The completed garden featured a fruit cage, small shed, greenhouse, potting area, vegetable beds, shade beds, grass beds and a herb garden, as well as seating areas on the lower and middle sections, with a glorious arbour at the very top of the garden giving views of the Preseli mountains.
A garden made of sand? In this village near Cardigan, the land is almost entirely sand as a result of a huge glacier that once covered the area. Read on to see how Landworks is making a garden from sand….
This retaining wall is only two metres from the wall of the house. The entire garden needed to be taken further back to give it some perspective and stop the wall dominating the view from the windows.
First, the wall came down and we began digging. All the sand had to be removed via a 1m wide passageway at the side of the house to be taken off site.
Next, we began terracing. What little topsoil there was we put aside to use later.
We use whole solid larch sleepers to retain the upper wall of sand. The wall is slightly curved, to add movement and interest to the garden.
Shallow steps give an inviting access to this corner, which is now ready for a greenhouse. We moved around 75 tons of sand, one barrow at a time, to build this area. Phase 1 complete! Phase 2 coming soon….
Daisies, corncockles and acid red poppies in a wildflower meadow seeded last autumn. We used local topsoil to sculpt the land into flowing shapes around our larch steps, and planted with native wildflowers. Our West Wales rain and then a stunning warm Spring have done the rest!
The project began with steps to get from the house to the field above. Sturdy reclaimed telegraph poles give a firm structure for these steps.
Topsoil shaped into banks and mounds add interest to the basic shape of the area
The first green shoots emerged in March
By the end of May the meadow is humming with bees and butterflies. This sunny spot is perfect for a meadow, and next year the perennials will start to flower – cornflower, scabious, vetch, birds-foot trefoil and meadow cranesbill. The larch steps are beginning to weather in the sun, and the soft grey-silver colour is just right as a backdrop for the bright flowers.