The Planting Begins

By the time we got to our second winter here we were ready to start planting trees.

Inverewe Gardens

Inverewe Gardens

A friend with a smallholding in Herefordshire, and who was influential in our change of lifestyle, once told us that he wished he’d planted trees when they first moved in, and it was definitely at the top of our list of things to do. We had seen the principle of shelter illustrated in a number of places, but nowhere more starkly than at the gardens at Inverewe on the west coast of Scotland where, in the second half of the nineteenth century, Osgood Mackenzie turned an inhospitable promontory of rock – Am Ploc ard (the High Lump) into magnificent sub-tropical gardens (now owned by the National Trust for Scotland).  But only after planting a thick shelter belt of trees and waiting twenty years for them to grow!

Our garden in Eastbourne

Our garden in Eastbourne

Our first task, then, was to create shelter from the South Westerly winds which blasted across our plot, and that meant planting trees.  Our plot was nothing like as hostile as the conditions faced by Mackenzie at Am Ploc ard, but it was clear that things would struggle unless we could slow the wind down a bit.  We love trees.  In our previous garden – a 50 x 20 foot plot in Eastbourne, we managed to incorporate nine trees in our second design, despite our limited space.  These were necessarily small and largely trained varieties, including six cordon fruit trees, so we were looking forward to planting something a bit less restrained.

We were spurred on in our quest to plant trees by the discovery of English Woodlands, a local nursery specialising in trees and hedging, where you could buy trees as one year old whips – little more than sticks with a few roots on the end – in batches of 25, for a few pence each.  Even better, English Woodlands used to have a sale at the end of each winter when they cleared out their remaining stock at silly prices.

Planting the Spinney in early 1997

Planting the Spinney in early 1997

The Spinney today

The Spinney today

During that second winter and early spring we planted over 200 trees and shrubs. Most of these went into a new half-acre wood we call the Spinney, which connected our two existing bits of woodland and would eventually form the first line of defence from the prevailing winds, but we also planted a small birch grove, an avenue of wild cherry and small leaved lime, an orchard, various random tree and shrub plantings (some the result of impulse buys at the English Woodlands sale!) and four short lengths of hedge.  Some of these plantings have since been moved (mostly from amongst the random plantings), one or two have died but most have thrived.

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