Posted: 20 April 2022
It's been a couple years since the last tour of the grounds. As with the previous tour I am writing it with that of 24 April 2020 shown in a neighbouring window. If you're reading this on a suitable device it might be a good idea to bring up both reports and view them in parallel, as they'll be many references to the changes that have taken place since the previous tour.
Once again we start passing through the gate at the side of the house, to the left of the office. This year it's a few days earlier in the year and there's not the profusion of pots seen last time. That's because Diana has taken to spreading the pots across the back of the house and there are fewer left on the decking seen here. Before the Green Team left us we got them to take the top off the conifers beyond the decking and in spite of some rapid growth through 2021 you can see the difference in their height.
The beginning of 2020 had seen the reed cut from the banks of the lake behind the house. As you reach the back of the house you immediately realise how different things look. In April 2020 it is the iris leaves that you see on the banks of the lake ahead of you, not reed, while along side you, the fence that separated the patio from the roses is gone. that was blown down in a gale in September 2020 taking with it the substantial rose bushes that were in the bed beside the patio. Now there is a replacement fence and a step from the decking down to the path.
It seems that spring is slightly delayed compared with the 2020 tour. It's true that those images were taken a few days later but perhaps the very dry weather this year has delayed the leafing up of the trees. The wind has been in the south for the past few days which accounts for the lake being clear of muck. It all seems to be caught at the north end of the lake behind the cottages.
In 2020 the path that leads away from the decking still had just had a fresh layer of chippings added and the birch log edging, laid in 2014, was still in place. This was replaced with new tanalised timber edging in September 2020 when plastic grids were also added to the path. If we keep to the old maintenance regime the bank will be cleared of vegetation this coming winter.
Plenty of creatures continue to use what we call the "Swan Path" that crosses from the dyke to the lake between the first two trees on the left. The grid path now continues to join to the first of the grids that were laid near the arbour seat that lies ahead. the grids have been filled with wood chippings rather then the gravel that is recommended to be used. Our plan was to allow the chippings to rot and, if necessary, sow some grass seed to give the path a more natural look that would, nevertheless, stand up to a lot of heavy wheelbarrow traffic over winter.
The grids used here are quite flimsy and are mounted on an anti-weed membrane that is totally ineffective against reed that grows through it easily. The manufacturer claim they are suitable for garden paths, however, although moles haven't yet emerged in the path they are certainly capable of lifting the edge of the grids, which is a bit of a disappointment. Maybe that is why the manufacturer suggests using heavier gravel in them.
A gap was left in the edging where the "High Road" leaves the main path. The expectation was that at some point that path would have grids added too, but it is not a priority as it stays drier and gets much less traffic. To the right the main path continues towards the Arbour Seat. You can just make out the point the the new grids joins the Original Grids laid in April 2016.
At the Arbour Seat you can see how a very different approach to laying the grids was used. The original type are more than twice as deep. The turf was skimmed of the surface and then pressed down into the grid giving an instant lawn affect. The paving slabs that you see here are those salvaged from the old patio outside the Music Room. Some have already been used to create a path at the Front of Ruston House . A couple more were used to support the Manna Extension It is planned to use others to create a base for a greenhouse on the old reed bed.
As before we continue along the path towards the bridge to the main island. As we approach the bridge the original path grids run out and we return to the newer light-weight grids.
As suggested two years ago we did, indeed, give the golden conifer on the left of the path a bit of a prune. One use of the mains electric power point that was not mentioned last time is to drive our wood chipper. We normally bring that down to the grassed area just beyond the bridge as it is as close as we can get it to the "utility area" beyond the old reed bed where we accumulate all the timber that gets blown down each winter and have our compost bins and incinerators.
This last view, in the first part of our tour, shows the lake from just beyond the bridge. Again, there is little change to the view seen two years ago, just a week's less leaf growth on the trees.
However, there is a plan! While it was the intention to use this grassy platform to over-winter the dinghy, Diana now hopes to obtain a seat of some kind that will be sited here.