Six Trees Later..
Early March 2019
To live in a place surrounded by trees is a special thing. It’s very private, the air is clean and if you want to indulge in a spot of forest bathing just trot up the hill and collect the post. That isn’t to say there aren’t downsides.. far too many squirrels for a start. But the big thing is the light. Or potential lack of it. Because trees grow and if they’re too close to the house the natural light, both inside and outside, can diminish proportionately. It’s a problem that can be managed but one that any woodland dweller might need to keep on top of.
When we first moved in Mike built a couple of large raised vegetable beds, terraced into the hillside. Little by little I’ve had to give up using these, not just because The Nibblers large and small gained the upper hand (which they did) but also because the plants never developed robustly in the first place given the increasing shade. It’s become a particular issue this year as we plan for a new greenhouse. The decision was made to enlarge the clearing in which the house sits, just a little bit, by removing the half dozen or so trees responsible for most of the shade. In the photo above this would be from the tall conifer in the foreground through to the ‘Y’ shaped ivy clad tree right of centre.
It’s always a tough call having to cut down trees. Previous owners planted them, or let them seed, so close to the house perhaps without realising just how large they would become. If you’ve been following the blog for a while you might remember that we’ve had to address trees as large as 80′ growing as near as six feet from the roof. I wanted to get the current job done before the leaves returned and the birds started nesting. We managed it, just.
Picture taken yesterday
We knew it would make a difference to the view, but still can’t quite believe how much has been revealed. Suddenly the garden has real depth.
Alongside the raised veggie beds, early March
And now. When I get around to clearing the beds I shall be doing it with a river view.
It’s been a monumental job. Felling the trees was the “easy bit”, to quote the tree fellas. As there was plenty of space in the bottom of the valley they pretty much applied the chainsaw at ground level and let the trunks fall… TIMBEEEEERRR…!! I felt the earth move that day I can tell you. It might have looked easy but it’s a skill to have a tree fall exactly where you want it too.
You can see how much shade the centre conifer created and it was only going to get worse. It has doubled in size during our few years here and was still growing. It had the potential to be another 80 footer.
Hauling the logs and the branches for shredding back up the hill was another matter entirely. Nothing is easy on a slope this steep. After a morning of pondering and much trial and error a solution was found by hooking a long rope high up in a tree way across the other side of the drive. Using the tree as a fulcrum one end of the rope was tied to the front of a Land Rover. The other to a heap of the branches lying in the valley. Throw the truck into reverse and voila! the branches are hauled up the hill. Well that was the theory. There was, inevitably, some collateral damage but we won’t go there. The plants will grow back. And the hedge. Eventually.
Early March. The probable site of the greenhouse, post at centre bottom marks the spot.
The view is striking but the quality of the light has been transformed. It will be a different picture again when the leaves return but hopefully by then the sun will also be higher in the sky.
The same spot today
Of course, one of the best views in the garden is now from this tucked away corner where we stuffed the compost bins.
It would have made a great place for a summer house. If only we’d known. Sigh.