Winter 2011/2012 proved not to be so severe as the one before or so we thought! Spring flowers brought beautiful displays in March and then came the snow!! Together with some heavy winds the weight of the snow on branches just coming into leaf caused quite a lot of damage to trees and shrubs in the garden.
Following some major ‘clear up’ work just after Easter we were able to see some benefits as areas of the flower borders opened up as a result of the damage, gave new planting opportunities and flowered well later in the year.
Earlier in the Spring work was done by Western Power on an overhead cable running along the far side of our wildflower meadow. The work involved cutting back a number of trees along the edge of the field and as part of the companies’ green policy we were given 10 new replacement trees for the garden. We enjoyed choosing and positioning some lovely native and ornamental varieties to add to the garden.
More new additions to the garden arrived at about the same time. Chris had wanted to keep chickens since we arrived at the Lilies and for his birthday in March the family gave him a chicken coup and 4 hens! We experienced a wide variety of ‘chicken adventures’ during the year, sadly not all good ones and 2013 started with only one of the original 4 plus a new one together with a well fed local fox and some electric fencing around part of the chicken run! The eggs are lovely though and as long as Chris watches what they are doing when they are free in the garden Bridget is happy.
The season progressed and the garden began to put on a lovley display. We raised large numbers of plants, many from seed saved the previous summer and used them to add to our borders and fill summer pots nearer the house. Many were sold at our garden openings raising substantial funds for our supported charity.
The wildflower meadow was a glorious sight in the early summer months with a constantly changing sea of colour from all the native wildflowers. As the colour subsided in August the sheep returned for their 2 month stay to prepare it for next seasons flowering.
Sadly the weather for 2012 will probably not be remembered as the best we have seen during our time at the Lilies. It was a year of extremes starting with drought conditions in the spring and the late snowfall. These were followed by a dull wet summer and even wetter autumn and early winter. All took there toll on the garden and as we approached our first open day we thought we would have to provide a boat for our visitors! The vegetable plot gave a very poor yield too much wet and too little light together with an invading rabbit meant much more trade than usual for our favorite fruit and veg stall on Bakewell Market!
Water continued to be a problem for us in the early winter months almost causing flooding of the cottage where Bridget’s parents live on a couple of occasions. The local quarry discharge considerable amounts of water into the stream that then flows through the bottom area of our garden and they too had serious problems with the continually rising water table necessitating continual pumping to enable them to work and part of our garden being permanently under water.
They have been very good and are working with us to solve both our problems. Hence the winter months have seen extensive work laying new pipes so that we should be able to grow veg crops other than watercress or rice and the bottom garden will not become one big lake!
Having completed work to solve the water problems 2014 continued and the snowdrops finally came out and the daffodils started to come through only to be covered in March by the heaviest snowfall we have seen since moving here. Family visiting us for the Easter holidays could not believe the size of the snowdrifts everywhere!!
The snow finally cleared away in April and warm sunshine finally arrived. Spring flowers appeared at last and were joined by early summer ones to give some very unusual combinations in the borders! Summer proved to be much better than the previous one leading to some beautiful display in both the borders and pots as the following gallery of photos illustrates.
Having managed to keep the fox away from the chickens, Chris acquired 3 new ones from a friend in the autumn. After some initial protests from the original 2, they all settled in well. They enjoy ‘free ranging’ around the garden in the afternoons, an activity that may have to be curtailed in the spring if they continue to scratch up all the new plants Bridget puts in!