Tuesday, 1 April 2014

The Hermitage Garden Renovation

Martin and I arrived early … I had been awake since 5am… why?  Today was D-Day, we were to plant up 11 acres of cleared woodland with a collection of rare trees and shrubs.  If this project proves to be as successful as our last planting in 2012, in ten years time Belvoir will boast one of the most spectacular Spring gardens in the country.  Centuries ago Belvoir was famous for its Spring Bulbs, 150 years later it has gone one step further.

A Garden??

The heavy work started 2 months ago.  This area hadn't seen the light of day since before the wars.  Many old and dangerous trees were felled, rogue saplings removed and an area once thick with brambles, docks and nettles started to look something a little more garden like!

Our collection of trees to be planted were chosen by Charles Williams, from Caerhays Castle, http://www.caerhays.co.uk/ houses the National Collection of Magnolias.  Charles has undertaken many projects on this scale so his knowledge is invaluable to our plan.

As you can see the area we are talking about is on a very steep slope.  The original path at the top will be renovated and a new path made at the bottom; this will give unusual views of looking down on flowering trees.

We started in dense fog.  Charles and his team arrived early with two lorry's of plants plus a delivery the day before of trees they couldn't fit in!  2,000 stakes, 8 rolls of wire fencing (each tree and shrub must be protected from deer, rabbits and squirrels with a circle of fencing), 150 bags of ericaceous compost and a team of planters. 

Charles started by placing out the large trees, these will provide the backbone to the planting.

Once the Magnolias were in place, Rhododendrons, Azaleas, Acers and many more were given homes.  Charles told me to watch the  Rhododendrons as they are prone to give up easily, they were immediately given extra compost! 

Some of the shrubs were already in flower, the colours were so bright and vibrant; the Camelias were in full bloom, as were some of the Azaleas.  Other specimens had just missed selection from Burncoose http://www.burncoose.co.uk/ the Chelsea Flower Show where Charles exhibits - we really were having the creme de la creme!

7 hours later we were all done (literally).  We both went home and put our feet in a bath of cold water.  The Cornish team probably wouldn't be in bed before midnight.  I'm sure Capability Brown had it easier than this! 

Tomorrow our next project starts, 20 Gunnera's to plant in all our lakes, just to start with…….