Our first ever tree planting party was a success! Not long after the first arrivals got stuck in with the planting we had a quick hail shower and then the clouds cleared and more people showed up. We weren’t sure if people would just want to plant a few and be done with it but everyone just kept planting! We took a break after a while to have some delicious homemade soups from Elspeth and Jane and it was followed by teas, coffees and the biggest cakes you have ever seen!! We were very lucky to have Sean and Ingrid, professional tree planters, helping us to instruct everyone what to do. More and more people arrived and there were about 35 at one point all scattered around getting the little trees safely in the ground with stakes and tubes to protect them. It was great to see all ages from 3 to 94 out planting! That’s right even 94 year old granny came out and put two trees in the ground. We were sorry to run out of trees as everyone was having so much fun but it didn’t take us long to the get the BBQ going and the party started. Then The House Elves (as they have occasionally been known as) showed up to play some live music for us which had some interludes from DJ Euan Bruce. What a wonderful day and a big thanks to everyone involved including the Woodland Trust who provided us with the trees.
We recently received a confirmation that we will be donated 420 trees, a selection of native trees including Oak, Rowan, Grey Willow and Birch, from the Woodland Trust to plant here at Rudha Mor. We have decided the only way that we will get all of the trees in the ground quickly enough is to have a tree planting party. The plan is refreshments and music to keep everyone going through the day followed by a BBQ at the end of the day. Before all the fun can start we need to get the area of land cleared and ready for planting. The plan is to clear the area on the lower side of the path the runs between the upper and lower meadow as you head toward Jimmy’s walk. It is a mad mix of bracken, brambles, dead and fallen trees, some good living trees and an amazing Fuchsia bush which has grown to an enormous size while hidden in this mess. It will be really exciting to reveal it and see it come into bloom this year. We are also planning to put a path into this area which will lead you in a loop around the newly revealed area.
Of course sorting the drainage at the bottom of the meadow is a massive job and I have had to take pause to repair equipment, order materials and wait for materials to arrive. It has been amazing to see the amount of water that is and has been trying to flow out of this area! I have now dug a large ditch on either side of the path and several routes through. I have started laying out the piping and making sure that it is all draining the way I want it to before I start to put things back in order.
There is still a lot to do to finish it off and get the walk reopened which must be done in time for the tree planting party that we are planning for the end of March. We have been donated 420 trees by the woodland trust and are putting on a family event to get all of them in the ground quickly!!
The beds around the front of the house take a real beating in the wind and lately the wind has been wild!
As an experiment I have decided to plant a low hedge around the bed under the front window to see if this will help protect the young plants as they begin to grow. Wind proofing has become a major job around the house and the veg patch.
The two adjoining sheds at the back have now become one! To create a little more space and light I have built a new inner shell in the shed which means that things on the floor won’t get wet and it will be an easier space to use. This morning as the skies opened up water came rushing under the shed but I checked and the new floor was nice and dry. This is not a permanent solution, the shed really needs a full rebuild but it should last a good few years like this.
After visiting a home garden north of here I have decided to completely change the layout of the vegetable patch. I have dug up the whole area where the polly tunnel and several of the beds were and created deep ditches with mounded soil rows. The plan is to simplify everything, there are still some wood/sleeper raised beds but to reduce the use of materials we are going to plant out these mounds instead. I am hoping this will also help with the unexpected lack of drainage in the newly relocated polly tunnel. We have loads of seeds ready for planting out soon so hopefully we will get a break from this weather and start to feel hints of spring soon.
Well as you know lately we have been getting hurricane speed winds and days with 20 mile per hour winds with 60 mile per hour gusts. As usual the day can start with barely a breeze and the seemingly out of nowhere the winds whip up and can lead to destruction which is exactly what happened on Saturday morning.
I went out to check on things and as I walked down to the lower barn where the vehicle store which we built in October stands only to see it lift right up and flip over onto the raised earth behind it. It was in a terrific position for the winds that we get 90% of the time but they occasionally come from almost the opposite direction and this is exactly what happened. I was a sight to see, thankfully all the vehicles were fine it was just as if the lid was lifted off.
I decided it was time to move the the vehicle store next to the garage in an area we cleared at the end of last year. I also redesigned it so that the front has a lip that comes down and hopefully that won’t create as much of a lift as the last one did.
While the ever-changing wild weather continues outside there is plenty of work to do inside. A newly order flat pack bee-hive has arrived and needed assembling so I go busy with that while the wind rain and sleet whipped around. Unlike Ikea furniture this did not come with instructions so a fun day and a half of figuring that out kept me busy. When there was a break in the weather I decided to get the digger over to the area that granny and I decided would be best for the bees and cleared back the surface. I also did a surface scrapping of the area just behind the tall hedge in front of the house where brambles and other weeds have begun creeping into the meadow. I will have to go in again and remove all of the for burning.
The area we have chosen for the beehive is in the wooded area across the meadow from the house so there is some wind protection and it is right on the meadows edge so the bees will have immediate access to a fantastic food supply. It is also not too close the the walkers path. We are hoping this will be a great place but we can only try and see.
I have also been very busy potting up all of the newly arrived root stock, running low on space already!!
Storm Georgina hit us last night and we recorder winds up to 88 miles per hour at the house but across the meadow they were probably even stronger.
Thankfully the pollytunnel is holding up fine but the wind and deer fences both blew down. The wind fence is about 15 feet from the edge of the deer fence which is around the veg garden. At the moment there are only onions growing in the veg garden so the fence being compromised is not too big of an issue right now.
The wind fence is repairable and what was good to see is that the willow which we planted on the far side of the wind fence is all still standing strong in the ground. I am guessing that it has all taken root and hopefully we will soon see it starting to grow and become another layer of wind defence.
The chicken hut rolled and it has caused a little damage but nothing too major and the stained glass window is still intact!!
While having a good check around the property and clearing fallen debris after winds I discovered a deer cave in an area overgrown with rhododendron ponticum so I destroyed it! It may sound harsh but the more ways in which we can disturb the areas in which the deer live the more likely we can discourage them living here and destroying the young trees and plants.
Another surprise discovery is a pair of mink, which as the Scottish Wildlife Trust explains, are very cute but ferocious hunters and could have a terrible effect on the bird population of Rudah Mor.
We have closed the walk to do some major work on the path along the lower edge of the meadow as you head toward the woodland walk.
A combination of the old victorian ceramic pipes being crushed, heavy rains and some poorly laid out drainage piping and the discovery of a spring has lead to major issues in this area.
The fist stage of this project was to dig down on the lower edge of the path and find out where the newly fit drainage pipes were. Surprisingly they were 4 feet down and had been recovered with clay which was causing a major backup. After clearing a huge trench 4 feet deep along a large cation of the path and making holes in the pipe the water started to flowing out.
Stage two is to lay down large pipe with vertical pipes that will come up above the ground level sort of like man holes which we can inspect the flow of water with and if necessary use a pressure she to spray down and clear the flow. Each of the vertical pipes will have rocks mounded up around them to disguise the piping and we can make a feature of them.
There has always been an unusually soft and soggy area just at the end of the path and we thought this was just part of the drainage issue but have discovered that is a natural spring so now we must work out how to feed this into the rest of the drainage to eliminate this problem.
As all these wonderful projects go not long into the initial digging of the trench a pin came loose in the digger which held the arm on and we had to figure out how to refit it. What a difficult chore that was but in the end we had success! Not to mention the sudden downpours which seem to be a common occurrence of late and I was caught out in the trench as one of these happened and was up to my knees in water in moments!!!