Month: November 2012

Trugg and Barrow’s garden diary December 2012

Let the rain kiss you. Let the rain beat upon your head with silver liquid drops. Let the rain sing you a lullaby.
When Langston Hughes wrote this he clearly didn’t have to go out and work in it or have flood water lapping around his front door or swamping his fields when he needed to be working them. The game keeper and the woodsmen have found it especially difficult to get around the estate this last month, with mud up to their eyeballs.. Yes, it has been another very wet month in the garden but the plaintive tones of Tura Lura Lurral have got us through it.
The garden played host to a craft fair at the end of November and, despite the desperate shortage of parking due to a waterlogged car park, the sun shone and the day went off very well. Thanks to all who came.
The wet weather and extra work due to the craft fair has meant that we are a little bit behind where we would normally be with the season’s jobs. But drier weather and a following wind should help us to catch up before Christmas.
Something to settle down to.
This month has mostly been about getting up the leaves and cutting back the decaying growth of perennials. Although it is good to leave some foliage until Spring as a refuge for insects, birds and mammals, there is something satisfying about being able to impose ‘tidiness’ on a space. It must be something to do with the satisfaction one gets from a ‘job done.’
Yet the Autumn tidy up leaves little to offer the reader or the writer, so with Christmas approaching it seems appropriate to think of a gardener’s wish list and throw in a few recommendations of my own.
High on my list are always books, some old and some new. First amongst them are works by Edward Augustus Bowles; that great plantsman who gardened at Myddleton House. I cannot believe that I have omitted his works from my library but there you are, you can’t have everything! His three volume work following the progress of his garden through the year is widely regarded as a masterpiece. He was also an authority on Crocus and his work ‘Crocus and Colchicum’ will sit nicely on my shelf next to the other three. Janis Ruksans the Latvian bulb expert, has recently written the monograph on Crocus which I think would be worth purchasing in order to update elements of Bowles’ work.
My next must have is another book entitled ‘New Trees’. The eighth and final edition of Bean’s ‘Trees and Shrubs hardy in the British Isles’ has been revised and updated. ‘New Trees’ is in many ways an extension of this monument of gardening literature and, weighing in at three kilos, it is not to be taken lightly although I have found it readable where I have been able to borrow a copy. However, as well as weighty it is also pricy at £90 in some retailers so I will have to hope that Father Christmas is generous and has been receptive to my hints about book tokens!
Finally on my wish list is a more modern work entitled ‘Seeds of Adventure’ by Peter Cox the eminent plant hunter and rhododendron expert. Part travelogue, it is a record of his time botanising in the eastern Himalaya and China. I always choose to read a book of this type along with a more genus specific work. Short of actually going to some of these exotic places, growing the plants that have been brought back by intrepid explorers are the best way of being ‘transported’ from the mundane!
Why not write to us with your own gardening wish list!
In the Kitchen Garden
Due partly to the hectic work schedule and long-term staff sickness some annual jobs in the kitchen garden have gone undone for a couple of years. One of those jobs is the soft fruit bush pruning that should ideally be done at the beginning of winter. As they have not been pruned for a while they have become a bit overgrown and disheveled. I have made a start on trying to renovate them and I will be trying to finish the job in December.
The normal procudure for established bushes is to remove one-quarter to one third of the oldest wood each year. Cut out low-lying and badly placed branches, try to produce an open bush that allows light into the centre. Keep strong, young, upright shoots. Old wood is almost black whilst young wood is light golden brown. Cut as low as practical as this will encourage new vigorous shoots from the base of the bush. Any weak, dead or diseased shoots should be removed to their base.
Old neglected bushes, provided that they are not diseased, can be pruned hard to around 2.5 cm from the ground during Winter. New shoots produced in Spring should be thinned in the following Autumn if they are over crowded.
What I have done is somewhere in between these two options. This is so that I at least get some fruit next year. Each of the bushes has at least produced some new shoots this last year. I have removed half or more of the oldest wood, much of which was layering into the surrounding soil. Dead and diseased wood is also being removed. This action should enable the plants to produce some fruit next year and stimulate new shoots from the base.
Other jobs being done in the kitchen garden are tidying fallen leaves and a bit of winter digging.
Please note: images have been removed from this pages because some of them may have been used without permission.

Hodnet 2nd Scout group leaders improve their skills

2nd Hodnet Scout Group have had a very busy year. This includes some of the Group Leaders undertaking training in order to improve the activities that can be offered to the pack members. .
Recently Kath Bett, Beaver Leader received her Merit for Outstanding Support and her 5 years service award .
Mark Preece, Scout Leader,  Keri Coates, Group Scout Leader and Tim Comerford, Cub Leader received their ‘Beads’ which is the Leader training award.
Adrian Vaughan, Cub Leader also received his 5 years service award.
(picture from left to right shows Mark Preece, Keri Coates, Kath Bett, Tim Comerford and Adrian Vaughan)
The Scout Group now have almost 60 children attending the weekly Groups – 25 Scouts, 24 Beavers and 11 Cubs.
Hodnet Scout Group were successful when applying for grants to buy new camping equipment.  This equipment was purchased at the beginning of the year and has been used on a number of camping weekends by all the children.  The fundraising and increased subscriptions have meant the children can do a wider range of badges and recently the Scouts enjoyed an evening Caving at an old Roman Copper mine at Llanymynech in Wales.  The Group have also been helping the local community and were heavily involved in organising the Jubilee Celebrations in Hodnet earlier in the year.
For further information on the 2nd Hodnet Scouts and on how to join Beavers, Cubs or Scouts please go to: or  contact Keri Coates on 07786 158064

Operation Christmas Child 2012 – Thank you

Joanna Davies, local organiser for Operation Christmas Child, writes to thank local people for their support of this year’s effort.

Despite everyone struggling with increased fuel and food bills the people of Hodnet and the surrounding areas have donated a magnificent number of filled shoeboxes in support of this annual event. 91 shoeboxes were collected and taken to the Telford depot and will make their way to children in war-torn Kosovo – a region in southeastern Europe. The total was greater than last year and I would like to thank everyone who took part. It has certainly demonstrated the true meaning of Christmas.

New Hodnet Walk Leaflets

With the help of Shropshire Council, Hodnet Footpath Group have now received a printed supply of our 1st two local walk leaflets.
You may have seen these in the Post Office, Hodnet Stores, The Bear Hotel or the Doctors, but they can also be downloaded from the Footpath Group’s webpage – where other information on the groups activities can be found.

Hodnet Housing Development – Revised Proposals Available

Last week Shropshire Council made public revised proposals provided by the developers for the land off Abbots Way. Six new documents have been posted on the Planning Depts. web site (dated 17 Oct.) Letters were sent out to interested parties on 8th Nov. giving them 14 days to respond to the changes.

The new documents can be downloaded from this page. They are listed as follows:

  • Info from agent
  • Response to PC comments from agent
  • Car parking info from agent
  • Ecological assessment from agent
  • Ecological method statement from agent
  • Ecological surveys from agent

In their “Response to Parish Council” the developers address the following points:

  • Size of Dwellings
  • Medical Centre
  • Street Lighting
  • Parking and Exterior Usability
  • Pond Management

They make no comments about the density of the dwellings on the site.
Those who wish to comment on the revised plans can do so via this page on the Planning Departments website.
Previous posts on this subject:

Trugg and Barrows Garden Diary November 2012

“Every leaf speaks bliss to me, fluttering from the autumn tree”

It has been a wonderful year for autumn colour. One of the first trees as always that showed it’s intent in the garden was the Cladrastis lutea (Yellow wood). This seemed to spur many of the plants in the garden to produce a fantastic display of reds, oranges, browns and yellows in every hue and shade imaginable. Standing beneath a mature Copper Beech, at the peak of its Autumn display, provided a moment of pure pleasure. The tree seemed to produce illumination from within its leaves, casting a soft ‘heavenly’ light around its base. Over the next two months we will spend much of our time picking these and millions of other leaves up, ah well, first the pleasure then the pain. As well as leaf collecting over the next month we will be cutting back herbaceous plants and mulching the borders. Any late planting before the ground gets frosted will also be undertaken.
You may have heard in the news recently about a fungus that is causing leaf loss and crown die back on ash trees in East Anglia. Chalara fraxinea is now the greatest threat facing trees in the UK since Dutch elm killed millions of trees in the countryside during the 1970s. The disease may have been lying dormant in our ash trees for many years, and it may already be widespread.
The first signs of the fungus arriving in Britain were in February when it was found in saplings at a nursery in Buckinghamshire, which had imported trees from Holland. It has subsequently been identified in several sites around the U.K.
Recently the fungus was found in 20-year-old trees in East Anglia. The fungal spores could have found their way from mainland Europe on cloths or boots or they could have blown over from infected trees on mainland Europe. This fungus adds to the problems already facing trees in this country such as the oak processionary moth, sudden oak death, horse-chestnut leaf miner and a fungus that has been devastating larches called Phytophthoria.
Until this year, ash trees in this country had apparently remained free of the fungus while it has been running rampant in parts of Europe. The disease first emerged in 1992 in Poland and other eastern European countries, possibly originating in Asia, where the indigenous ash trees have developed a natural immunity. Once some of these infected but resistant trees were imported in to Europe the fungus was then able to transfer to the non-resistant European stock.
It gradually spread across the continent, reaching Denmark in around 2003, where it has killed 90 per cent of the country’s ash trees, and Holland in 2010. The fungus responsible for the disease was identified in 2006.
Ash trees are the fourth most abundant tree species in the U.K. with an estimated 80 million specimens. It can be seen all over the landscape. In many hedgerows ash has replaced the elm after it was devistated in the 1970’s. There is currently a big effort to find infected trees in Britain in an attempt to identify sites where the disease has taken hold. As there is no known cure, infected trees have to be destroyed in order to try to contain the fungus. So far around 100,000 trees have been destroyed at 20 or so sites in the U.K.
In this modern age, the virtues of ash have been largely forgotten, but no tree has tougher, more elastic and flexible wood than the ash. In times past ash timber was the first choice for spears, arrows and pike-shafts. Larger timber was used for wagons or furniture; smaller poles were ideal for hop-poles, wagon wheels, ladders, oars and shafts for tools. Well seasoned ash has the ability to be steamed and bent into all kinds of shapes and still keep its strength; the chassis for the Morgan car is made from ash. As a fuel wood, ash is very useful as it will burn green.
Currently Chalara fraxinea is a quarantine pest under national emergency measures and as such suspected cases must be reported. You can do this by calling the Plant Health and Seeds Inspectorate on 01904 465625. Click on the link to find a pictorial guide on how to identify the disease.

A Garden to Visit.

As winter winds blow in, it is nice to think of sitting in the warm whilst the garden makes few demands and tasks can be left for sunnier weather. Yet gardeners, being the outdoors type, will often find themselves getting bored kicking around the house especially on clear crisp days. For this reason I always look for gardens to visit in winter. High on my list is Colesbourne Park in Gloucestershire.
I had heard and read about this famous snowdrop garden and added it to my list of places to go if I was ever in the area. I recently went to a talk about this garden hosted by the Shropshire branch of ‘Plant Heritage’ which has now made it a must see for me.
Sitting in the Churn valley in the Cotswolds, Colesbourne has been home to the Elwes (think Galanthus elwesii) family for over 200 years though the original Victorian pile has been extensively modified and made into a comfortable family home.
The garden is open every weekend in February and such is its popularity that visitor numbers in this month alone pay for the garden for the rest of the year!
The collection of snowdrops now boasts over 250 varieties and for those of us, (myself included), who do not fancy kneeling in the mud to examine minute differences, they are planted in broad drifts which gives a wonderful effect.
The garden is just over ten acres surrounded by a shelter belt of mature beech woodland planted as a shelter belt. Glades are opened along pathways containing shrubs grown for winter interest. Yet it is bulbs for which Colesbourne is rightly famous. Henry John Elwes, discoverer of G. elwesii, was a keen plant hunter in the nineteenth century and brought many treasures back from his travels, mostly bulbous plants.
Winter aconites abound at Colesbourne spreading their cheery yellow flowers over a long period. They include some rare cultivars including ‘Lightening’ and the cheekily named seedling of this variety ‘Strikes Twice’.
Self-sowing is encouraged at Colesbourne such as the bank of G. plicatus ssp. byzantinus in the Icehouse Hollow and the Fritillaria meleagris ‘Alba’. Petasites japonica is also grown here but a word of warning to those tempted by the flower heads sitting flush to the ground – once you get this plant it is there forever and spreads wherever it wants!
Colesbourne is high on my list of must see places, perhaps you would like to write in and tell me yours? (See the email below).
In the Kitchen Garden.
Over the next month in the kitchen garden we will be:- pruning this years fruited stems out of the raspberries, winter pruning apple trees, more leaf collecting and generally tidying the vegetable plot. There are still some crops to harvest including leeks, sprouts and carrots. Due to the work schedule and mice I don’t plant any crops at this time of year, but you could have a go at sowing some early cabbage for planting out in spring.
Please note: images have been removed from this pages because some of them may have been used without permission.

Christmas Craft Fair At Hodnet Hall Gardens

Sunday 25th November.

Over 25 stalls selling local, handmade gifts and food.

Entry to the fair and the gardens £3 each. Under 16’s free.

Open 10.00 a.m – 3.00 p.m.

Tea rooms open for light refreshments.

A unique opportunity to do some Christmas shopping and explore 60 acres of magnificent gardens.

For information on opening days, entry charges, location and more pictures go to Hodnet Hall’s website.