Runaway Matting and the Stubbornness of Sheep

Stepping out of the car into the bitter chill made me regret leaving the coat at home this afternoon. Little did I know that within minutes I’d be sweating profusely thanks to a giant roll of capillary matting racing towards me from the top of the hill.

My mother, arms flailing in the wind, trailing behind, added a comedic touch to the situation. After an entertaining struggle we managed to wrestle the matting back up the hill and secure it safely in the barn.

With that mini adventure behind us we embarked on a tour of our new polytunnel nestled within the original like a Russian nesting doll, I’m told this impressive miniature structure will soon house seeds come next January/February, with the capillary matting playing a crucial role as a water wick to keep the plants hydrated while capturing any runoff. So I suppose the struggle will be worth it, come next spring.

Our excitement was momentarily dampened when we discovered a frustrating issue with the irrigation system, the water pressure was disappointingly low when we attempted to water the plants. Ever the detective my mother announced that there must be a hole in the piping somewhere. With that established we determined that finding the leak would became an investigative task reserved for Chris, later that day. Rest assured, we are determined to resolve it promptly, we’ll need to with the weather quickly changing to the breezy summer heat. I never think i’ll miss the rain until faced with over two acres of thirsty plants.

Amidst the farming challenges I had the opportunity to pluck some freshly grown golden oregano a beautiful herb with a bright yellow-green hue and a refreshing earthy aroma and with it I plan to create a lemon and oregano pesto for tonight’s dinner.

Pesto is such a versatile recipe, I love being able to savor the garden’s fresh herbs in various ways whether mixed with pasta, added to tomato soup, used as a rub for meat, or frozen in convenient tablespoon-sized portions, its always delicious. I can finally use my new pestle and mortar too.

Our day concluded with a heartwarming task—rounding up Mary, our wandering sheep. It seemed that Mary had strayed from his familiar pasture last night and found himself on our narrow access track. Determined to revel in the lush greenery along the roadside, Mary seemed content to bid farewell to his familiar surroundings oblivious to the worries he caused us, however with some irresistible sheep nuts as bribery and a fair amount of cooing we successfully herded him back to his rightful home. All’s well that ends well at Andyn Farm today.

Abby

Alpacas or Sheep?

I had a lovely visit to Andyn Farm this afternoon to see the Alpacas and Herdwicks that live there. Although Herdwicks are more commonly found around the Lake District, these three are being used to manage the pasture at the farm, which surrounds the plant nursery. It had been a while since I last saw them, so it was nice to see them again and their bushy winter coats before they need to be sheared.

At first, they didn’t seem to recognise me, but they quickly warmed up and became their usual cuddly selves. We have three alpacas at the farm named Apollo, Quirkus, and Feagus, all named by different members of the family. They’ve been living at the farm for four years now and are true masters of their grassy hills. They look so majestic and calm up there, it’s a delight to watch them.

The alpacas get to pick the best parts of the pasture, and once they’ve moved onto fresh grass, the sheep are allowed to graze to their hearts’ content. The Herdwick wool is used as mulch around some of the trees, but we’re still figuring out what to do with the alpaca fibre. It’s much softer and gentler than sheep’s wool, so if you have any suggestions, please send us an email. We’d love to hear from you.

I couldn’t help but notice the contrasting personalities of our beloved Herdwicks and Alpacas. The Herdwicks are incredibly hardy creatures and will do just about anything for a handful of grass. In fact, they’re so trusting that they’ll happily eat out of a stranger’s palm. Mary, our resident go-getter, is a prime example of this trust – he’s always first in line for treats and loves nothing more than a good head scratch.

On the other hand, the alpacas are a bit more reserved and have a calming presence about them. They’re not as outgoing as the Herdwicks, but they do have a soft side that shows through once they get to know you. It’s always a joy to see them snuggled up together in their little group, enjoying the sunshine and each other’s company.

So, which do you prefer – the hardy and trusting Herdwicks or the calming and cuddly alpacas? It’s a tough call, but we’d love to hear your thoughts. Drop us a comment below and let us know which of these gentle creatures steals your heart.

Overall, it was a fantastic visit, and I always feel lucky to have these gentle creatures as part of the farm’s community. Even when the alpacas look suspicious with their ears flattened back, there’s no aggression, and it’s always a joy to be around them. It’s no wonder they’re used for animal therapy.

-Abby

Cars & Gardens

 

Small front gardens can be beautiful creations but these gardens tend to take a back seat when we need to use this space for our vehicles. Kerb appeal then begins to take the form of attractive tarmac or paved car parks.

As you are probably aware however recent heavey rainfall has demonstrated the need for improved drainage and relatively new legislation dictates that any new driveways must be SUDS compliant (in short materials that allow water to soak through rather than run off) So where does that leave the humble front garden?

 

Happily there are alternatives and ways of designing gardens that positively welcome your car!

All in a days work…

At our local plant nursery, our team had a productive day preparing for the upcoming summer season. We began by moving potted plants to more shaded areas, taking advantage of the recent rainfall to avoid the need for extra watering. Next, we tended to our resident alpacas, Feagus, Quirkus, and Apollo. Setting out their daily feed, even though they were fairly full from the thriving grass growth. We’re always happy to see our alpacas and make sure they’re well-fed and content.

Finally, we fixed a broken wheel on one of our plant trolleys, although it took some trial and error to get it right. Overall, our team’s efforts resulted in a successful day at the nursery, ensuring that our plants and animals were well taken care of, and that all necessary equipment was in good working order. As the summer season approaches, we’re excited to continue our hard work and create a thriving environment.

Springtime at Andyn Farm

The plant nursery has been busy with a few key activities over the last few weeks as Springtime takes hold.

As temperatures rise and day length increases, it’s important to make sure that our plants are getting enough water to thrive. This is likely one of the most important tasks for any plant nursery during the summer months, and we sure have been busy with the garden hoses, using our own recycled water as much as possible. In the drier seasons we’ll start to use sand beds and capillary matting for more effective watering.

Another important activity at this time of year is planting. We’ve been transferring our 1 litre plants into larger pots in preparation for the summer season, this will help ensure that they have enough space to grow and develop healthy root systems.

Finally, it seems that we’ve spotted evidence of otters in our water collection pond. This is a fascinating development and a reminder of the importance of preserving natural habitats for wildlife. While otters can be destructive to certain types of plants, they can also be a sign of a healthy ecosystem, and it’s always exciting to see them in their natural habitat.

Overall, the plant nursery has been busy with a range of activities this month, all aimed at ensuring that our plants are healthy and thriving.

Wildflower Meadow beginning to bloom

Spring is the perfect time to plant some summer flowers that will attract bees and butterflies. At the nursery last year we were busy extending the native woodland with more native trees under planted with a wildflower meadow. We have now got beautiful pink wildflowers to show for it, attracting pollinators and providing homes for wildlife as well as extending the natural beauty of the local woodland.

Wildflower meadows are also great for nurturing the land. The root structures help to prevent flooding, keep all of the nutrients where they belong, and fight climate change by reducing greenhouse gasses. To read more about the importance of Wildflower meadows follow this link to the WWF Website or contact us to hear more about buying Wildflower turf to bring a bit of nature back to your garden.

A busy April at iLandscapers

Last Month at iLandscapers, our team was busy with a range of projects that showcased our skills in garden design, maintenance, and planting. Here’s a rundown of the work we accomplished:
Designing a Seaside Garden
We were excited to take on the challenge of designing a seaside garden for a client who wanted to create a tranquil oasis that reflected the beauty of the coastal landscape. Our team worked closely with the client to understand their vision and came up with a design that suits them best. We can’t wait to see the finished result!
Maintaining a Garden We Designed and Built
One of the most rewarding aspects of our work is seeing how our designs transform over time. This week, we were thrilled to return to a garden we designed and built last year to carry out some much-needed maintenance. Our team worked hard to trim back overgrown plants, fertilize the soil, and add some new features to enhance the garden’s beauty and functionality.
Planting Up a Rock and Scree Garden
Finally, we tackled the task of planting up a rock and scree garden for a client who wanted to create a low-maintenance garden that would thrive on their site. Our team carefully selected a range of hardy plants like sedums, alpines, and succulents that would thrive in this environment and complement the rugged beauty of the rocks and gravel.
Overall, it was a busy and rewarding month for our team at iLandscapers, and we’re already looking forward to the next challenge that comes our way. If you’re looking for professional garden design, maintenance, or planting services, don’t hesitate to get in touch with us today!