Planting – Wild Flowers
Many people helped clear up the leaves that Andrew was blowing.
Many people helped clear up the leaves that Andrew was blowing.
The following Report is written by Colin Adlam.
A group of us who visited the BPS East Anglia Group Indoor meeting in Norwich on 27th October 2018, took the opportunity to visit The Plantation in Norwich, which was very close to the BPS EA meeting place. We believed there was a rustic bridge at The Plantation, and as the Danesbury Fernery is missing one, thought we would take a look!
Priorities, and a cup of coffee.
The rain had held off all morning and our visit included a nice coffee stop on the way to Norwich at The Courtyard Restaurant. This was in the stable block of the one-time residence of Maharajah Duleep Singh the last Maharajah of the Sikh Empire, later sold by his executors to the Guinness family.
It’s a nice stopping place, and as we left, we heard they had opened a dedicated café. Oh well, next time!
The Plantation – our visit
“The garden was the creation of a local man, Henry Trevor (1819-1897), a successful and prosperous upholsterer and cabinet maker. In 1856 he took a long lease on a disused chalk quarry just outside the city walls”.
A 5 minute walk round the corner from Peter and Nick’s house we found The Plantation Garden approached through a driveway to The Plantation House.
The house is undergoing repairs possibly the result of sinkholes relating to chalk quarrying side-tunnels from the Plantation Garden site!. A gated entrance takes you to a reception area with a gazebo structure with information displays, and close to a greenhouse for The Plantation Garden Preservation Trust (PGPT).
Behind the gazebo you find two entrances to the main garden, one over the rustic bridge and one underneath. The planting was already interesting, with ferns, palms, bedding and shrubs a plenty.
The Bridge – too far?
We all had a look at the bridge from both above and below, but I think the consensus was disappointment. With a fairly wide span the bridge was, probably necessarily, quite heavily constructed of structural timber and steel. The only rustic element seemed to be the criss-cross decorative spars of the hand-rail. Hopefully we can come up with a more rustic feel for our much smaller bridge when time and funds allow that project to proceed.
Moving into the garden proper we were all mightily impressed. My description won’t do it justice so I recommend looking at their website 360 degree panorama.
The garden is a mix of formal lawns and beds with fanciful structures all around, in an approximation of a rectangle. The main end wall and the fountain centre grabbed our attention straight away. The fountain is a tall and fanciful gothic folly of three tiers in a circular pond.
The side wall, incidentally separating the garden from the house, climbs the quarry edge and is surmounted by a balustrade. As you get closer you realise the wall is no simple brick, stone or flint construction but is instead made up of what can only be described as Victorian building and church salvage. All very cleverly re-built to create patterns, alcoves and niches.
At the far end is the similarly fantastical wall with stairs and slopes up the face with even more elaborate decoration than the garden wall. You climb up three sets of stairs joined by three slopes before the final steps bring you to the rustic Summerhouse. There was once a path at this level back to The Plantation House, but sadly closed off currently and looking overgrown. I am sure the PGPT members have it in mind to open this up one day. More pictures can be found at: http://www.tournorfolk.co.uk/norwichplantationgarden.html
With time approaching the start of the BPS EA meeting we retreated, cajoling Sarah away from plants to identify, and wandered the short distance back to Nick and Peter’s house.
See the Report of the BPS East Anglia Group meeting.
On 27th October 2018 a small group from The Friends of Danesbury Fernery (FODF) met in Welwyn for a convivial drive up to Norwich for the regular autumn social get together of the British Pteridological Society East Anglia Group (BPS EA). Thanks go to Andrew for driving myself, Sarah and Harry all that way.
The Plantation is a restored Victorian garden in an old chalk pit very close to Peter and Nick’s house, where the BPS EA Meeting was to be held. Before the start time of the EA Autumn Meeting we therefore took the opportunity to visit the Plantation under Nick’s guidance. Go to The Plantation -Norwich for a separate report.
After our visit to The Plantation, everyone was pretty chilled so warming coffees pulled us away from the Fern haven of a front garden, rising in steps to the house. A very friendly welcome and a quick tour highlighted Peter and Nick’s love of India, as well as Peter’s vast and impressive collection of ferns. More impressive is Peter’s knowledge of ferns. Later we wandered outside again for the plant (fern) sale and got a chance to explore the front garden delights again and discover that the rear garden is similarly profuse with Pteridological delights.
We four had interesting conversations with attending BPS members over lunch provided by our hosts. There is a great deal of knowledge in the group, as I’m sure there is in any enthusiastic and specialist organisation.
With most members comfortably seated in Peter’s lounge Andrew began the presentation of Danesbury Fernery. With much interest and questions, and the other three of us chipping in occasionally, I think we ran over our time slot a little, but nobody seemed to mind. There was surprise at how much had been achieved in such a short time by a relatively small volunteer group at Danesbury. I am sure we can expect a good group of BPS members when they visit Danesbury on Saturday 20th July 2019.
Two more interesting and varied presentations took us on tours of foreign lands with ferns in the forefront and many splendid photos. Time constraints meant we had to make our excuses and we packed the boot of Andrew’s car with our purchased ferns. Some were for individuals, but the bulk have now been planted at Danesbury.
If you wish to see the individual plants and know where to find them just catch Sarah or myself on one of the working party days. We moved many of the Dryopteris filix-mas (male fern) and Matteuccia struthiopteris (Ostrich, or Shuttlecock fern) to ‘themed’ beds under trees to make room for the more interesting varieties.
Ferns being ferns, they will look a bit sad for the winter, but with the return of warmth, and some moisture, I am sure they will look beautiful by the summer next year. The themed beds should slowly become impressive as they form homogeneous banks.
The following is written and posted by Colin Adlam
I was looking through my old photos to see what triggered my interest in ferns. The photos show a tendency towards structural things, those not of family and friends. Buildings, trees, vehicles and latterly ferns. We used to visit a lot of National Trust properties with the kids and I think my first fern purchase probably came from one of them as a memento. In the mid ‘Noughties’ we had our front garden landscaped and had to re-plant the whole area. I acquired a small plot for the few ferns I had in containers and planted them out eagerly. The site was in the shade but above the root system of 2 vast Laurels that had once been the hedge, and a tall conifer. Not ideal.
Every spring copious watering would bring the ferns back to life again and continuous watering kept them lush for the summer months. I always looked forward to seeing those first croziers peek out and unfurl. They fascinated me. From about the year 2000 to 2010 my random collection grew to over 20 different species and cultivars with purchases at other NT houses and at Hampton Court RHS Flower Show, mainly bought from two guys that call their company ‘Fernatix’.
In 2009/10 we landscaped our back garden, with patio, water feature and fish pond, and I moved the main collection to two new areas. Leaving just a couple of large Blechnum nudum out front, the remaining plants were split between the small area next to our patio and a larger area below the pond. Both are on the southern boundary and shaded by a tree or the tall hedge. Masses of organic material was, and still is, dug in to keep the soil moist. Pride of place was given to the Polystichum setiferum ‘Plumosum Bevis’, a very darkly attractive Soft Shield fern.
Lower Fern Bed
The interest in collecting leads naturally to wanting to learn more about ferns; to see, photograph and uncontrollably purchase more. I am a besotted and incurable ‘fernatic’, or what the Victorians called – a Pteridomaniac! In the last 10 years I have taken over 3 further areas of the garden, the most successful being the shady and sheltered unused strip along the side path.
A few years back my wife and daughter, visiting the Chelsea Flower Show, saw a stand run by an organisation with an unpronounceable name. Deciding that it would be a good joke, they signed me up for membership of the British Pteridological Society. The regular publications started arriving, 3 different formats of newsletter plus emails, and I eventually got to this year’s AGM. I was fearful that the number of ‘Dr.’ prefixes in the organisation would make for a very academic day. Far from it. The day included a reasonably short formal AGM, some interesting presentations and slide-shows, a sale of BPS branded goods and a spore exchange. I met nice people with a similar interest, but often a far greater knowledge of ferns than I have memory capacity for.
Having recently visited two couples in Norfolk who are Pteridoligical Society members I realise my collection, and my retention of details, is woefully short of optimum. So I consider myself a Pteridomaniac, rather than a Pteridologist, enjoying collecting ferns and learning what I can from browsing books and catalogues.
I hope to help the Friends’ of Danesbury Local Nature Reserve community that have welcomed me with open arms, and occasionally get the name of a fern correctly identified. I look forward to seeing you all at working days at Danesbury as often as I can make it.
This successful project, which was sponsored by a private benefactor, was led by Harry Ward. The work was undertaken over four distinct phases.
Excavating and Straightening the poles
The poles were removed from the site and straightened under heat and hammer by a local blacksmith.
Re-Installing the straightened poles
Designing and Printing the Banner
The wording was agreed ‘in committee’; the font selected by Ann MacDonald; and printed in Knebworth.
The Banner was fixed temporarily in time for the June 2018 Open Day, but not permanently fixed until October 2018.
This final stage was completed in just 15 minutes with the constructive help of John’s son Simon with his ladder.
Light Cloud and a gentle breeze .
Jenny is bringing more cultivated wild flowers for planting.
This is the time of the year when we have to collect and preserve the leaf drop in the dell. I will bring my wheelbarrow and we will need to form a small team of leaf gatherers.
Watering is unlikely to be required!
This Working Party will focus on clearing the nettle bed beyond the path at the North East corner, where we want to prepare the ground in order to plant ferns.
If resources permit, then we will also need to continue to keep the Perimeter Tree Whips clear of smothering weeds.
The Borough Council’s Licensed Ferreter will pay a visit to the site on Friday 16th November to assess the degree of the task facing him, now that we have further cleared the site since his last visit. He will also be able to take into account the extensive fencing repairs and improvements that we have implemented, including the rabbit security added by Maydencroft at the entrance kissing gate since our last Working Party.
To give you plenty of notice, it has been decided to bring our scheduled December Meeting forward by one week to the 2nd Thursday 13th December. Please make the change in your diaries.
For further information about current activities, and notice of our occasional ad hoc meetings, please access the WhatsApp Fernery Gardening Group. If you are not already a member of this Group, then please contact John Roper who is the WhatsApp Administrator.
The full team meets at the Fernery at 10 a.m.* for briefing and the allocation of tasks; and the issue of appropriate tools.
*Volunteers are encouraged to arrive earlier if possible in order to help with the distribution of tools and allocation of tasks, which will facilitate a prompt working start for everybody.
If resources allow, we sometimes split into two groups and a First Aider will attend each group if possible, but failing that, then the respective leaders will maintain telephone contact.
Full details may be found on the website location of the Fernery, but simply stated, the closest access point is North Ride, on the Danesbury Estate, AL6 9RD
Either park in North Ride, or take the right hand fork of the unmade Road which leads to Danesbury Park Road, and a kissing gate entrance is about 500 metres on the right, not far from a lay-by which has limited parking space.
Tea break are taken at about 11 am.
Please bring a drink with you, and wear strong boots or shoes and have strong gardening gloves too.
Jenny brought trays of cultivated flowers which she and Lucy planted on the North Slope.
Sara planted 50 x Primrose plugs near the Team HQ