A new mindfulness has crept into the way I garden. One thing I am very aware about is that I have been far too quick to tidy. I also have no idea in many ways what is actually there or indeed the potential of the garden.
Every time I go out, I am intensely aware of my limitations and how I have simply accepted things without really thinking about it. Or at least really pondering it and about what clues there are to its natural potential.
So I am starting to get together a list:
1. Do a survey of the trees I can see in the dene and try to see if they yield any clues as to how it was used pre the 19th century. I know we have both mature small leaf and large leaf lime, for example. Most of the mature trees are multi-stemmed above a certain height – this makes me think coppice wood, rather than wildwood existing on the edge of a farm. We also have nettles, except for the area between the mature trees. The nettles are not that significant in the footpath area either.
2. Do research into the geologically significant deposit of limestone which was supposed to be in the garden but which the county geologist could not immediately spot 20 years ago. He said this was a good thing but I now I am wondering – should I know more about it. I am pretty sure I know where the deposit is (ie in the stream bed – above the middle pool) but I don’t know. So I suspect I need to research the records.
3. On this side of the dene, the hawthorn and the holly may point to a former hedge which served as a boundary between a field and the dene. The road bends in a specific sort of way and Peelwell (now Haydon View care home) is a very old farm. Our plot was not part of Peel Well but rather Broom Farm which was centered on where the high school currently stands. Hedgley, the house next door, has the remanents of an orchard on their grounds but it is hard to say when that orchard came about. The original part of that house was built a few years before ours. We actually share drains. But I need to do more research.
|Looking into the dene from the bridge (hawthorn on left)|
4. Research what sort of plants would naturally inhabit such a habitat and see what they expect. In a former coppiced wood, the wildflowers have developed to respond to varying degrees of shade. They expect renewal.
5. Retrieve the various guides we possess on wildflowers, bees, butterflies and moths. Also refresh my bird id ability rather than simply relying on my husband’s (which is beyond excellent). This is partly prompted by the discovery of a bumblebee nest in a bird box. I am not entirely sure which bumblebee it is. I did see the queen go in (dark orangey red stripe, white tail) but I need to figure which bee. I am however pleased the box is being used.
|Where the bumblebees are nesting.|
6. Figure out what is invasive and non-native (ground elder unfortunately). And also figure out what giant herbivores would have eaten. Do I want sycamore saplings for example. Sycamore is a 17th century addition to England. What happens when brambles and nettles are blocking other potentially more interesting wildflowers?
All this will take time. In the mean time, I am trying to take a step back, and not tidy like there is going to be an open day.