The last few weeks have involved some pretty intense tree planting at Blackthorn Cottage. This was always something we intended to do, from the moment that we decided we wanted to buy our house; however we left it a year to see what a full year in the garden looked like. Once that year was up, we had a lot of fun picking out native species of trees and deciding where to plant them. There had to be a real mix in order to create two hedgerows: one running along the lane by our house, one running down the west side of the garden, and extra trees to plant in the wood at the bottom of the garden. In the end we went for Scotts Pine, Silver Birch, Hawthorn, Blackthorn, Elm, Spindle, Holly, Aspen, Dog Rose, Gelder Rose, Dog Cherry, Bird Cherry and lots of honeysuckle plants to clamber all over them. Around 450 trees in total. Then we also have the miniature potted forest that Jonny has been growing since we lived in our first cottage together, which consists of walnut, Birch, oak, Ginko, Larch, and Horse Chestnut. Around 30 in total.
The first thing we had to do was chop down most of the scrappy willow that was planted in the bottom wood. Because we live at the top of the valley, they had all been blown over, and then rooted. So they were taking up an awful lot of space, and they weren’t particularly healthy trees. This was mostly done one weekend by Jonny with his chainsaw, and me helping to shift the felled timber. Then we spent another day shifting the wood, chopping it, sorting it into piles for either logs or kindling for next winter. What we couldn’t find a use for we burnt on our first bonfire of the year – and the ash was added to our compost. It felt like very little was wasted. After that it was just a matter of planting all of the trees – which we have been gradually doing over the last few weeks. We have had various members of our family coming and helping, so it has felt like quite a collaborative process. This weekend should hopefully see the last of the trees planted, and then after that we will start thinking about wild flowers. Which will be so much fun. We will hopefully grow wild bluebells, wood anemones, cowslips, wild garlic and common spotted orchids to begin with: and then see what else pops up. We are just the temporary custodians of Blackthorn Cottage, and I want our legacy to be that we made it even more wild and beautiful than it already is. I love the idea of watching our trees grow over the years, and seeing the landscape gently change. And if we are lucky, we will be here long enough for Jonny to make us a piece of furniture out of one of those trees. How wonderful that would be.