Saturday 6 June 2015

Restoration of Bolton Percy churchyard garden

A team of volunteers is helping to resurrect Bolton Percy Churchyard to its former glory.

I have described how when I knocked on Rector Norman’s door and offered to spray off the weed in the overgrown churchyard how it changed my life. The world beat a path to the church door. Virtually all the blue-top national newspapers - over a period of fifteen years -  came to see the garden that nature had helped me to make. Glossy magazines came and  nine television programmes were filmed including  a piece for Gardener’s World.
A churchyard garden managed naturalistically with plants of the world was a novel thing thirty years past. At that time when I still lived in the village the garden was  developed and  maintained by me in two hours a week. Significantly this continued fifty two weeks of the year. It surprising what nature do can do with the help of frequent and regular guidance.

I moved from the village fifteen years ago. I revisit once a month to ‘do’ the churchyard. I am there for about three hours. It is not nearly enough and the standard has gradually declined. It is ten years since it has had any media coverage.

The village has become concerned that I might hand in my proverbial P45. If the cemetery had become even more scruffy then they might even have insisted. Worse I might pop my clogs and kick a rather rusty bucket. I have been looking a little peaky of late. I jest, Bolton Percy will have to put up with me for several years more.

Never-the-less I am hugely grateful that a new arrangement has been made . A team of volunteers have started to help. Four skilled enthusiastic gardeners have worked in the cemetery garden for four Monday evenings now. What a difference they have already made. If they continue in this vein in a year or so it will be transformed. I could not believe the improvements they have made. Jackie Giles tells me that they loved every minute of their labour. No mean gardener herself, she used to open her garden under our National Scheme. No doubt some of her collection of Barnhaven primroses will find their way down the road. The group includes some highly skilled pruners. I returned home yesterday on a ‘high’ hugely impressed.

I took some pictures and mischievously thought I might make some suggestions for the ‘C-team’. Bolton Percy Cemetery team.

Some thoughts and suggestions for the ‘C-team’

The team have already shown their skill pruning out dead branches on this Amelanchier in the parish room yard. They have also tidied the mess in the road

The parish room yard is part of the brief. It was the old school play ground closed in the early fifties. Its tarmac surface is a wonderful mulch

This fine lime is not part of the brief. The mowing around the church is done by the local authority and I have never been involved. I don’t know what arrangements were made for the work on the lime.

The Rosa glauca needs cutting back every second year or it gets out of hand. The bay tree withstood the 2010 Winter. You are welcome to take a few leaves for the pot. Small branches make very fine aromatic skewers to cook meat.

Fortunately garden visitors rarely look up - unless they are birdwatchers and they don’t even notice the dead branches. It was too much for me to cut the dead yew away

The self sown blue Abutilon vitifolium is the granddaughter of my original plant. Without rejuvenating pruning it only lasts about ten years. Look out for seedlings. The ‘ornamental’ marestail needs watching. The Spirea ‘Gold Flame’ has partially reverted and the green needs cutting out.

I sent an e-mail to Trish Davies to ask the team to cut back the fuchsia. The top survived last Winter but has been killed by a hard late frost. It will of course grow strongly back from the ground

When the golden box needs pruning I know it will be done light and airily and not in a tight bun and look like a lollipop. The euphorbia is sensitive to glyphosate and is tough to cut back in Autumn. The hedge has not been my responsibility. Varying ‘arrangements’ have been made in previous years.

This cypress over the years made about twenty trunks, had foliage to the ground and was taking over the cemetery. I took most of the trunks out and exposed the bases. It might eventually need pruning again. The team has already cleared many graves of ivy. Here is some more!

A great job has been done hand pulling epilobiums and cleavers out of the middle of plant clumps. There is still some sticky willy (cleavers) to remove. As it is not yet seeding it can be just thrown on the ground

Feel free in due course to prune the tamarisk

Don’t worry about standing on the phuopsis when you pull out the sticky willy. It is heavily disguised in this plant

The 'C team' have done a great job pruning back Rosa glauca by the tree trunk

You might want to take a rest on the seat in the corner

Self sown birch eventually get too big and I cut them to the ground to rejuvenate and make new trunks. I am afraid I have not had the energy to cut back the dead stumps in the picture

Clever thinking

Put two problems together and make both go away.
There was a large white pile of overgrown builders rubble that years ago had been dumped in a corner. It needed shifting.
Meandering desire lines created by visitors in more popular days extend the viewing points as you walk through the churchyard. They are becoming overgrown.
To my pleasure and astonishment on my last visit the walks were reappearing. I wonder if we might need to find some more limestone hardcore?
I suggest that in life and as good management in business such skill is a rare secret.


  1. I must visit one day - we have driven past a sign for it when on one of Martyn's train photography excursions

    1. There are two popular train viewing points within a mile, Sue


Note: only a member of this blog may post a comment.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...