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Birch Grove

April 2007

In April 2007 we turned our attentions to the back garden and started in the area at the end of the field. My plan was to ultimately create a private secluded area hidden from the rest of the garden, but Karen took some convincing that sectioning the area off was a good idea. It was only after our anniversary weekend away that she agreed to my idea when we visited the secluded silver birch garden at Merriments.

We began by planting the first batch of many trees we hope to grow at York Cottage, the 20 birch trees that we had ordered from the Potted Garden Nursery a couple of weeks earlier (10 Silver, 10 Himalayan). Once they were delivered we used Izzy to bore the holes, carefully measuring the distance between each one at first, then when the light began to fade just anywhere and as quickly as possible.

The old mower and the recently acquired trailer (eBay) dtransported all the trees and equipment to the end of the garden and Emma and Luke helped us plant the trees and stake them up.

We bought some granite stones from the farm shop in Hoo and created a stone circle for our bonfire. This little corner has since been the scene of some fun camp fires burning old diseased leaves and brambles.

September 2007
In September 2007 we planted 23 laurels to create a screen around the Birch Grove. The idea was to turn the area into a smaller private garden where people can go and sit quietly, looking at bluebells in the spring, and having small bonfires in the evening.
October 2007
In October 2007 we planted the 300 English Bluebells that Anne had bought us for our anniversary present, 15 around each tree. We are hoping that over the years to come they multiply and spread.

April 2008
In April 2008 we bought a couple of rustic wooden arches to create the entrances to Birch Grove and planted a "potato plant" to grow over one and a climbing rose (our anniversary rose) to go over the other (along with a rose taken from the front garden). Unfortunately the rabbits got to the roses and ate them both, although the rose from the front did recover.
September 2008
Unfortunately, although the rabbits ignored the new laurels for about 6 months, they suddenly developed a taste for them and the bottom 30-40cms were all stripped of all leaves and branches. They looked more like standards than bushes. Our first attempt to stop this was to put individual ring fencing around each laurel, but the baby rabbits could still get through and eat any new growth.

So, in September 2008 we eventually had to buy 70m of chicken wire and put up a fence on both sides of the laurels to give them a chance to get established. We also replaced the anniversary rose with a vigorous honeysuckle and properly protected it with chicken wire. Let's hope the rabbits don't have wire cutters!

June 2012
All the trees have grown really well over the past few years and the laurel hedge has grown nicely, slowly recovering from the rabbit attack. Unfortunately we have had the wettest spring on record and with the strong winds we get up here two of our birch trees are now badly leaning over. We have put in some supports for the smaller tree and managed to straighten it, however the largest of all the trees is just too big to be able to support. I really hope we don't lose this tree to the wind!