The last week has really begun to feel like spring, there is real warmth in the sunlight, and the buds of the cherry plums and willows have burst, giving us a taste of what the season has in store....
A walk in my shirt-sleeves a few mornings ago yielded a blackbird bathing at the edge of Washbrook stream, splashing with abandon, and celandines turning their faces to the morning sun on the bank. Further on a warm sandy south-facing bank was thick with violets…. I watched two bees busily visiting every flower, whilst little workmanlike spiders hunted beneath the leaves. Passersby must have wondered what I was up to, on my knees staring closely at the ground with an expression of delight on my face!
I have seen sooo many ladybirds about in the last day or so, a box plant against a sunny wall had about eight basking in the uppermost branches - mostly seven-spots, but also one Harlequin. These are a more robust introduction from Asia that is spreading with frightening rapidity. If you're interested in helping with this problem, you can contribute to a countrywide survey which is being done - go to this website for further details: http://www.harlequin-survey.org/
In the garden things are really starting to take shape, some of the specimen trees arrived today, including the young apple trees, which are all varieties which have been grown in Suffolk historically. There is also a black poplar to be planted in a damp corner of the garden. This is a native tree which due to its rather specific habitat requirements has become very rare in Britain, so we're proud of our tree!
The landscapers (All Seasons Landscape Specialists) have been fantastic throughout the building of the garden, taking every obstacle in their stride... It is the home straight now for them, the last bits of bed preparation and finishing off to do. I and my team of volunteers will shortly be getting stuck into planting the garden up, which looks like it may be a mammoth task - I look forward to the moment when I can stand back and think, It's finished! (If that's ever the case with a garden!)
Well, the landscapers have been on site for just over a month now, and the bones of the garden are beginning to take shape. It has certainly come a long way already from the bare site studded with tree stumps and graced by the ruin of the old tea garden, being quietly consumed by a rampant wisteria! The tea room building is gone now, and on the site an area has been cleared and prepared for the barn that will be built there. Some of the paths and areas of hard standing are already formed, and the flowing curves that the borders will take are becoming apparent.
One of the more decorative elements of the garden has recently gone in – the willow spiling which is to form one of two raised ridges in the meadow areas. I did not know what spiling was until recently – if you imagine it as willow hurdles woven in situ, to follow the curves of the land. Usually it is installed to prevent erosion or support banks. Our contractors wove a rather lovely mixture of colours into the spiling. It will shortly strike, forming a living structure.
The new team of volunteers have been getting stuck in at the garden – before the landscapers arrived we spent a pleasant Saturday morning transplanting snowdrops out of the way of the landscapers. Since then, we have been installing rabbit fencing…. I have to confess to being a little worried about these pesky blighters. I have been burnt by them before in a private garden, despite planting exclusively from the RHS’ list of ‘Rabbit resistant plants’. Apparently no one had told the rabbits the plants were rabbit resistant!
Our next tasks are to put in various wooden fences – to screen the bungalow which is not to be demolished just yet, and the western boundary of the public part of the garden. We are also cutting timber for the boardwalk and platform which will run across the bog garden at the far end of the garden. We are quite proud that the timber for the boardwalk has all come out of our own woods!
The garden is on track to open in May – come and see it in the early stages, then you can enjoy it as it develops….