Life’s a Beech

26 May 2019

The last of the open days May 3rd was blessed with decent weather and although not quite as busy as the Good Friday opening non the less a reasonable day, which helped us to raise £470 pounds for the nominated charities of the of the East Neuk first responders and the Rotary club of St Andrews: Arclight eye project.
A lot of the work in May and for the rest of the summer tends to be maintenance mowing and weeding but we still manage to squeeze in some interesting projects;
Lowering the front yew hedge on the oval, this was a very challenging job for Gavin it was important to get the hedge level all the way across on both sides of the drive. We called in help from some very modern technology usually used more for building or engineering projects, a laser level. Using this device, we carried a level marked initially with spray paint then with stakes and lines all the way across the width of the hedge. That of course turned out to be the easy bit as in some parts the hedge had to be lowered considerably more than others Gavin had some fairly thick wood to cut through most of which could be done with the hedge trimmer, but he did have to use the chain saw a fair bit as well !
It has been quite a huge relief to see the Beech hedges that have been planted this previous winter down at the West Lodge coming into new leaf over the last couple of weeks. Beech can be quite difficult to get established so to see such a high percentage take is really encouraging. The weather is playing its part too with periods of warm weather but interspersed with some good rain it all helps. Here’s hoping that the weather continues like this, unlike last year which was not a good one for establishing plantings, we had hard and late winter weather followed by ‘the beast from the east’ then almost instantly went into a dry and hot summer great for holiday makers, but not for gardeners.
Around the policies it has also been great to see that a very high percentage of the trees planted as specimens and in the roundels also bursting into leaf. Newly planted bare root trees will always come into leaf a bit later than ones that are already established, so it’s comforting to see them eventually green up
In the parterre we have started to replace some of the dwarf hedges that have not being performing as well as would be expected. One of the biggest disappointments has been the Japanese holly Ilex crenata this has been widely hailed as a good replacement for dwarf box which in many places now people cannot grow due to blight diseases. For us the Ilex crenata just would not grow so we are about to replace it with more of the Teucrium lucidrys the Hedge Germander which has been hugely successful, and it attracts so many insects into the parterre.
Next to get marching orders has been the Santalina Lemon Fizz the main problem with this has been its frequent reversion from yellow back to green which looks quite unsightly, so this is being rectified by simply replanting with the plain green form of cotton lavender Santalina virens.
The last plant that has let us down is the golden dwarf Yew Taxus bacatta Semperaurea. This has been scorching very badly presumably the full sun situation of the parterre and its summer dryness is just too much for it, although usually it is not a problem. This is going to be replaced by a nice compact form of Lavender called Little Lady which comes highly recommended by The Lavender Garden down in Gloucestershire. With these replacements the parterre should quickly mature into the eye-catching spectacle that it was intended to be.

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