Archive for May, 2019

Sunday saw the group back at the Dingle clearing up more after the contractors who have been felling mature trees on the sides of the valley to improve the views of the eighteenth century landscape (see 7th April too), with a chance to chat about upcoming workday schedules with Countryside, Parks & Gardens Manager, Pete C.

With cattle in the adjoining fields between Hall and valley, fencing has been restored since the contractors departed, so finding a way in without climbing too much of the valley sides provided the first challenge.

High & lower-slope groups developed to collect and burn the brash without the need to practice too many mountain goat-like skills.  Everything grows fast at Dudmaston – recently it was brambles amongst the saplings in Comer wood, here the new greenery was fast obscuring the smaller brash.

As the sun came out the heat rose in many ways – reminding us why there aren’t many cut and burns in the summer!

What is brash I hear you ask? – well, from a felling contractors point of view they only want a thick long straight stem, so whilst these were dragged up and out of the valley, whole tree tops, side branches, green growth is left where it falls or is cut, so begins the process of bringing back a bit of natural-looking order.

Plenty of cake kept us going – brownies, lemon drizzle and afternoon scones – views abounded about which got top marks – but thanks to all (including a holidaying Mike!)

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Some of the group ventured to unfamiliar parts of the Attingham estate with ranger Colin on Saturday, dodging the showers to learn more about some of what is hidden from public view.

There was the biomass boiler, and fuel supplies in terms of wood processing unit and chipper. Much of Attingham is now self-sufficient in heat and hot water.

As well as the beautiful deer and landscape there was a visit to the onsite butchery – here there’s processing of the whole carcass through to preparation of packs for sale.  Attingham’s claim to fame it that it sells venison with less than 1 food mile!

There’s still much WWII infrastructure tucked away, with former concrete runways in need of a usage and noteworthy historic WWII buildings.

There was also discussion of future workdays, including path works and for next year a potential return to a former site at Lee Brockhurst, north of Shrewsbury, restoring parts to heathland.

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Read more about the long service of someone who not so long ago presented a long service award to our own John Wells!

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Attingham workday was warm, sunny & productive. Our task was to be making new tree guards to protect apple trees in the orchard from rabbits in particular – one of whom made an appearance in the adjacent walled garden just as we arrived!  Progress was slow at first as Head Gardener Duncan put the plan in his head gradually into place, deciding where to put the wooden posts, hammering down just far enough, working out how to attach the wire mesh to maximise its coverage, explaining the cunning device to bind mesh and fence wire together.

We turned into guinea pigs for how many trees a group could manage to protect in one day – hence we focussed on the small trees, leaving the larger ones for others another time.  

By the afternoon we were a well organised team each with their roles producing effective and uniform guards for all the baby trees. Morning saw homemade flapjacks which soon disappeared – thanks Helen – by afternoon, it was ice cream for some as a satisfying day in good company, ended in the Stables tea rooms in the shade!

..Report courtesy of workday leader Helen

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Unusually, SSNTV worked on a Bank Holiday Sunday to help the garden team at Shugborough with the mulching, weeding and edging of beds in the Pleasure gardens between the mansion and the river.

There were teams laying bark chippings onto the plastic weed suppresser in one large bed, while others weeded four more and tidied them by trimming the edges.

After lunch one team moved on to meticulously cutting the edges of the tulip (former rose garden) beds after Gardener Derek had mowed the grass paths. 

Whilst sounding straightforward the jobs were surprisingly long-winded and needed us to persevere, despite backs and knees complaining at times! The consensus was that the end result was worth it as we could see the tremendous improvement we had made in the beds, and after the trimming of the edges in the formal garden the wonderful display of tulips looked even better – well at least that’s what we thought!

Derek was very pleased and promised to cut down more trees to provide the extra mulch needed to help suppress the likely weed growth in the coming months – so he or boss Caroline are sure to keep us busy!

….Thanks to Workday leader David

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Seen recently at the group’s tool store, oil can and replacement blade in hand ….. was it that he’d had enough of dead hedging and rhodi pruning???……Well, it does seem that Tools Lead, Neil is very concentrated in his work, ensuring all the loppers and bowsaws have a sharp edge.

Nothing beats a sharp tool, as many an SSNTV member will say (or something like that…)

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