Wednesday 19 August 2015

Seaton Ross village plot in July

Although garden seats are not for me, whenever anyone passes as they walk to the village shop they give me a smile, a friendly wave or a jovial comment
We had lived in the village for several years when a piece in the village magazine appealed for help with various communal activities. The request to which I might contribute was the one asking for help growing ‘wild flowers’ and I duly volunteered.
That’s when we first met Peggy who we privately call ‘Mrs Seaton Ross’. At that time any good works in the village and indeed any village activity at all was inspired, worked and organized by that lovely old lady. I wondered what the project might involve and fantasized as to whether I might grow UK wild flowers from any public source or restrict myself to just those of East Yorkshire provenance.
It was then that I learnt about the village plot. About an acre it had been the site of two cottages which I can only think of as ‘alms houses’ for the poor. How such a plot came to be owned by the village, I don’t really know. Only the hard foundations of the cottages remain. Several very old apple trees survive. The plot  when viewed in July 2007 had become the most luxuriant stand of ground elder you can imagine.

It transpired that what Peggy really wanted was someone to clear the plot and plant some flowers! There had been half hearted attempts before but without glyphosate they had always failed. Someone had tried spraying but had merely succeeded in providing a haven for the ground elder!
It was with a mixture of pleasure and disappointment that I realized that what Peggy wanted was nothing about growing wild flowers but more a matter of getting rid of unwanted ones. Many wild flowers are specific to special ecological niches and my original vision was probably unachievable. En passant I might add that with my methods a great number of wild flowers do establish in my gardens.

That was eight years ago. Peggy was still fit enough to cut the Hawthorn hedge, two cuts a year, for the first four years. A lovely hermaphrodite holly berried each year but had blown horizontal and new trunks were making a large thicket. Peter brought his chain saw and there is now a nice tall single stem tree. Peggy sowed grass under the fruit trees much to my consternation. She had the silly idea that it would provide a route for village children to see the chickens in the garden beyond! I never saw a child and the young man who kept the chickens left home. I love the grass now because it has provided a lovely ecological opportunity and it buffers the windfall fruits.
I won’t mention the unfortunate incident when for a season the grass was mown by sheep! The fruit has now recovered but it was a very close run thing. Now the grass is just cut once a year. Thank you two volunteers who have cut the grass and the kind gentleman who cut the hawthorn last year. I missed your help this time.
I maintain the plot in about three hours a month. It is easier to manage than my cemetery gardens because I can pop in when I go down to the village to visit the farm shop. ‘Little and often maintenance’ is much better than a huge infrequent crusade.
Last month I walked round with my camera. Warts and all here are the pictures.
All the agapanthus needs to thrive is a light position and weed free undisturbed soil

Hydrangea and hosta - I tend to forget the names of my cultivars. I do know the holly is the monoeccious self fertile cultivar Ilex ‘J C Van Tol’ which is covered with berries every Christmas

My hugelkultur heap gets mistaken for a rubbish dump. I can live with that but fret that people imagine the plants are discarded too. In another year it will look lovely...or perhaps the year after...

Although Peggy originally sowed a rye grass mixture (yuk) I have been bringing it round to a finer grass sward
The old cottage foundation is a good place for the seat. The rowan tree is self sown

The old trees still give delicious apples. I have made the mistake to tell everyone to help themselves - they belong to the village. Unfortunately last year there were none left for me

Several plants were lost in the wet winter two years ago when the adjacent blocked ditch overflowed. It did not harm these bog plants! 

Sometimes people give me plants that I cannot use at home

Honeysuckle seed was brought in by the birds and the climber now straddles the trunk of the old pear tree
The popular image of impatiens is as an alien invader. To me it is the delightful bee bum plant

Peggy was very keen to have a log pile as a home for the beetles

Piptanthus is a most undervalued yellow flowered shrub. Anyone can help themselves to these seeds and grow it at home 

Phlox takes two or three years to achieve its finest on our sandy soil

Ten years ago the ground elder infiltrated the hedge right to the road. My fine fescue grass now gets regularly mown  by the council when they cut the grass verge on the otherside of the path. I worry each year that my daffodils will be beheaded too soon! Although I leave my hedge clippings on the surface of the plot I need to tidy them up here!
The notice board shows a map of the village

This fine birch sowed itself in the rubble ten years ago

In this post I described eliminating the groundelder. It is completely gone now!
In this post I mentioned  my effort at hugelkultur


  1. How lovely to have a village garden. You certainly have plenty of gardening to do with all the plots that to you tend beside your garden.

  2. Very impressive Roger.
    Thank you for telling us about hugelkultur. I will try it with tree bark. The bark comes off firewood and over years we are left with piles of bark.

    1. Bark is an interesting idea Alain for Hugelkultur. I imagine it decays a little slower than wood. Over here a number of composts have crushed bark as an ingredient.
      I would guess that if your bark was infiltrated with perhaps 10% soil it would make nice deep hugelkultur beds

  3. What a beautiful and interesting plot Roger, you even have varying conditions in such a small area and can grow such a wide range of plants, I must admit I admire your use of the impatiens, brave man, but I suppose the fact that you have a fairly dry climate (and glyphosate) must help to contain it. I sometimes think I could recognise one your gardens anywhere, the wide spacings which allow plants to fully develop into fine specimens but are also the result of your gardening methods.

    1. Very perceptive Rick. The fact that almost all my weed on the plot and in my(!) cemeteries is with glyphosate has effected my planting style and even where I have very large patches of self seeders such a limnanthes they are discrete. It might not quite apply to lovely nigella which infiltrates everywhere.
      In my own garden where I vary my weed control with a wide range of methods my planting is more intimate.

  4. I think Peggy was very fortunate to have you offer your services, you've done wonders with the plot of land and how lovely for the village to have this area.

    1. Thanks Jo and like my cemetery gardens they are always open!
      If you ever drive out from Leeds have a look at the plot and please call at Boundary Cottage to see my own garden


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