The Willow Tree

How do you prune a Willow Tree?

Pruning a willow tree is best done during its dormant season, typically in late winter or early spring before new growth begins. This timing ensures minimal stress on the tree and promotes healthy regrowth. When pruning to maintain a healthy shape, focus on removing dead, diseased or damaged branches first, cutting them back to the main trunk or a healthy lateral branch using clean, sharp pruning tools. Additionally, thin out crowded areas to improve air circulation and reduce the risk of fungal diseases. For shaping purposes, trim back any overly long or unruly branches to maintain the desired size and form of the tree. It’s important to avoid heavy pruning during the growing season, as this can weaken the tree and make it more susceptible to pests and diseases. With proper pruning techniques and timing, you can help your willow tree thrive and maintain its natural beauty year after year.

 

What is Coppicing and why should you do it?

Alternatively willow can be grown to supply rods as weaving material and coppicing is a traditional method of harvesting willow trees that involves cutting the tree down to ground level, allowing it to regrow from the stump or “stool.” This process stimulates vigorous new growth, particularly of straight, slender shoots known as rods or twigs. Coppicing is typically done during the dormant season in late winter or early spring when the tree is not actively growing, which minimizes stress and maximizes the tree’s ability to regenerate. Willow trees are particularly well-suited to coppicing due to their rapid growth and ability to produce multiple stems from a single stool.

One of the primary benefits of coppicing willow trees is the sustainable production of renewable resources. By regularly harvesting the young shoots, which can be done on a rotational basis every few years, coppiced willow trees yield an abundant supply of flexible, straight twigs that are ideal for weaving, crafting, and construction. This renewable source of material reduces the need for harvesting timber from mature trees, helping to conserve natural woodlands and promote biodiversity. Additionally, coppicing can rejuvenate older willow stools, extending the lifespan of the tree and maintaining its health and vitality over time. Furthermore, coppiced willow trees contribute to carbon sequestration and soil improvement, enhancing the environmental benefits of this traditional forestry practice. Overall, coppicing willow trees offers a sustainable and versatile solution for obtaining a variety of useful materials while promoting the long-term health and resilience of the tree and its surrounding ecosystem.

How fast do willow trees regrow and can you weave it yourself?

Willow trees typically exhibit rapid regrowth following coppicing, with new shoots emerging from the stool shortly after cutting. Depending on factors such as species, climate, and soil conditions, new shoots can grow several feet in height within a single growing season. In favorable environments, some willow varieties have been observed to produce new shoots reaching lengths of up to six feet within a few months post-coppicing. The speed of regrowth is influenced by factors such as adequate moisture and nutrient availability in the soil. This quick regrowth of willow trees post-coppicing makes them a valuable resource for sustainable biomass production and various applications requiring pliable, freshly grown twigs and branches.

The removed willow branches after coppicing can be utilized for weaving various items such as baskets, bowls, and other woven crafts. Willow branches are prized for their flexibility, making them ideal for weaving intricate designs and sturdy structures. After coppicing, the freshly cut branches can be sorted based on their thickness and flexibility, with thinner and more flexible branches often used for finer weaving work, while thicker branches can be used for more robust structures. The branches are typically stripped of their leaves and then soaked in water to make them more pliable/ and easier to work with. Once prepared, the branches can be woven into a wide range of items, including baskets of various shapes and sizes, bowls, trays, and even decorative sculptures. This sustainable practice not only utilizes the renewable resources provided by the coppiced willow trees but also allows for the creation of beautiful and functional handmade crafts.

Weaving Willow fences

The fence is constructed by driving sturdy wooden posts into the ground at regular intervals along the desired fence line. The willow branches are then woven horizontally between the posts, creating a lattice-like pattern. Additional vertical branches can be added for stability and aesthetic appeal. As the branches dry, they shrink slightly, tightening the weave and strengthening the fence. Willow fences provide a rustic and charming addition to any garden, offering privacy, protection, and a natural aesthetic that blends seamlessly with the surrounding landscape. The picture above shows our dog Sparky playing in the Willow-weaved sheep shelter. If you would like to book a consultation with Chris to discuss how to add willow to your garden landscape give him a call to book an appointment.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Quick and Easy Pruning

As the promise of Spring hangs in the air, now is the perfect moment to unlock the potential of your garden and do some quick and easy pruning. Embrace the transformative power of pruning with Mandi’s expert recommendations, designed to breathe easy new life into your outdoor haven. Some small alterations can help to keep plants happy and healthy as well as make the over all aesthetics of your garden more appealing, and even beginners can do this. In this article we will outline some of the basics on what plants could benefit from a little extra help this month and we’ll explore practical how-to’s for those taking their first steps into the world of pruning.

Why prune in early Spring?

It is thought that pruning is one of the oldest agricultural practices in the world, and according to legend, it all began when people noticed that the grapevine nibbled on by the local donkey grew more grapes than any other vine. Pruning away dead leaves or crowded branches allows for better plant growth, as healthy stems have improved air circulation and more access to sunlight. The dead leaves can often attract pests too, so it’s beneficial to remove them as soon as they are spotted. Pruning can even minimise the spread of any diseases that some plants might be more susceptible to, protecting the overall health of your garden.

A spot of seasonal trimming can also make your garden more attractive in the coming months. By removing the dead or tired plants, we can make room for the spring-blooming perennials and allow more space for fruit trees to grow their harvest. This will allow for more colour and eventually attract more beneficial wildlife like bees and butterflies to pollinate in summer. Strategic pruning can also help to develop a more vibrant garden by giving us the opportunity to design our gardens to best fit our needs. But just some quick and easy pruning will yield results.

The adventurous might want to try their hand at tree shaping as this is the perfect time of year to experiment with new talents. Evergreen trees and shrubs hold onto their leaves throughout winter, making it easier to carve new life into them. We recommend starting simple if this is your first time shaping and make sure to periodically step back and assess, unless you’re a fan of the lopsided circle of course.

What should we be quickly pruning?

Mandi recommends any deciduous trees or shrubs in your garden should be given a once-over this winter. Deciduous plants shed their leaves every winter and bloom anew in spring, this is why winter is the ideal time to make space for new growth, quick and easy pruning will remove any crowded branches or unhealthy leaves. Beech, Silver Birch, Hawthorn and Crab Apple trees are some of the most common trees in England which benefit from some trimming. Keep an eye out for broken branches or visible scarring as they are tell-tale signs of damage or disease. If you want a surefire test, scrape a little of the bark of the branch with your secateurs, if the underlying bark is green then the branch is alive and well and there’s no need for intervention.

Be cautious not to over-trim though and especially look out for spring-blooming shrubs or climbing plants like roses. If in doubt a quick search online will help to clarify whether a plant is safe to shear, and if you’re still in doubt or would like to get an expert in to help give Chris a call on 07841 509 634 and arrange a time for us to stop by.

How to do some easy pruning :

For smaller gardens we recommend a trusty pair of secateurs. If you’re buying new tools for the new year Mandi prefers the bypass kind for a cleaner cut (pictured above), but long handled loppers give better leverage for larger jobs. The anvil secateurs (pictured below) are sometimes easier for those with less grip strength, or for thicker stems. The key to quick and easy pruning is a little bit of prep work keeping your tools clean. Try to keep your tools clean and sharp to prevent spreading any harmful pathogens to your garden. You can buy specialist oils for this if necessary but generally just cleaning them after use works well.

When trimming, try to cut just above the bud and preferably at an angle matching the direction of growth. This will make it easier for the bud to blossom and grow anew. If you are removing any dead or diseased wood from your trees try to cut as close to the base of the stem as you can, this will allow new healthier stems sprout. If you aren’t looking to cut though a quick once-around the garden removing dead leaves and damaged stems by hand is also beneficial, and a good pair of gardening gloves is all you’ll need. Possibly a warming cuppa for afterwards too.


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20 Years of Garden Memories

As we approach our 20 year Anniversery all of us at iLandscapers have been looking back over some of our favourite garden memories. We’ll be adding new memories every month, have a look below to see some of our favourites so far…

December:

These were some of Mandi’s favourite designs over the last few years. She especially enjoyed collaborating with Chris when imagining the circular seating area with the best view of the completed graden. It was lovely for us to see how some of the landscapes had developed over the years, so a big thank you to all of our clients that have or would like to share their pictures with us!

January and February:

Before and During work:

Completed Project!

This was one of our biggest projects last year and we are proud of all the work that Chris, Mandi, Paul and the team put into it. A big thank you to our client for allowing us to work on their garden! Mandi had a great deal of fun continually learning to design this garden and similar projects with VectorWorks. She finds that it is especially useful in 3D design work as it enables her to picture and plan for the slopes within the natural landscape and helps all of us to imagine the finished work before we get the shovels out.

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Welcome Robins this winter

In the seasonal ballet of nature, the arrival of winter robins takes centre stage, a graceful dance against the backdrop of frost-kissed gardens. These red-breasted visitors, known for their resilience and adaptability, embark on journeys that lead them to our doorsteps. As temperatures drop, the familiar chirps of robins become the soundtrack of winter mornings, signalling their presence and infusing our outdoor spaces with a comforting melody.

Robins are omnivorous marvels with a diverse palate, showcasing adaptability in their feeding habits, particularly during the winter months. While their spring and summer diet often consists of insects, worms, and caterpillars, the colder seasons prompt a shift in culinary preferences. In winter, when the ground may be too hard for foraging, robins turn to a more varied menu. They eagerly feast on berries, fruits, and seeds, contributing to the ecological balance by dispersing seeds through their droppings. Supplementing their diet with small invertebrates and suet provides essential fats and proteins, ensuring their sustenance even when traditional insect fare is scarce. Gardeners can entice these delightful visitors with mealworms, fruit, and bird-friendly feeders, fostering a harmonious relationship between robins and the winter landscape they adorn.

Robin spotted sneaking out of the Alpaca Shed!

With their endearing presence and inquisitive nature, Robins are drawn to gardens that offer a combination of essential elements. If your hoping to spot some Robins this Christmas a bountiful supply of food ranks high on their list of attractions, and gardens featuring fruit-bearing trees, shrubs, and berry-producing plants become irresistible. Additionally, a reliable water source, such as birdbaths or shallow dishes, adds to the allure, providing a space for both drinking and bathing. Comfortable shelter, like dense foliage or well-placed birdhouses, provides security and a place to rest. Gardens that adopt organic gardening practices are also appealing, as they support a healthier ecosystem and provide a wealth of insects, worms, and other invertebrates that robins find delectable. In essence, a thoughtfully curated garden with a blend of nourishing elements creates an inviting haven for these crimson-breasted companions, encouraging them to grace our outdoor spaces with their cheerful presence.

The association of robins with Christmas is rooted in folklore and cultural symbolism that spans centuries. In various traditions, the robin has emerged as a harbinger of good fortune, with its red breast taking centre stage in tales of compassion and warmth. One enduring legend suggests that the robin earned its distinctive plumage by fanning the flames of a fire to provide comfort to those in need. Over time, this charming bird has become an emblem of hope, renewal, and generosity, making appearances on festive decorations and greeting cards. The sight of a robin during the holiday season evokes a shared sense of enchantment and nostalgia, connecting us to timeless traditions that celebrate the spirit of giving and the joy of the season.

Here’s hoping you can spot some at home. Merry Christmas!

Top tips to beat the freeze

With two ponds in our own garden we know the worries that frost can cause. To help protect your fish we recommend that you prepare your pond for the colder months with these essential tips. First, lower the water level to prevent overflowing due to increased rainfall. Clean your filter, adjusting the frequency to match decreased fish activity. Remove leaves daily to maintain water quality, and consider fitting a cover net to protect your pond from debris and predators. Ensure your UV clarifier is ice-free, move your pond pump to a shallow level to protect your fish during freezing weather, and adjust their diet to a Wheat Germ-based one. Invest in a pond thermometer to monitor water temperature and consider a pond heater for active, healthy fish throughout winter. We have been using a heater for the last few years and if the size of our fish is anything to go by, they stay toasty all winter long!

To help protect the rest of your garden consider the following tips:

1. Cover Tender Plants:

Shield delicate plants with frost blankets, old bed sheets, or hessian to provide insulation.

2. Mulch Around Plants:

Apply a layer of mulch around the base of plants to help retain soil moisture and regulate temperature.

3. Water Before Sunset:

Water the garden in the late afternoon. Moist soil retains heat better than dry soil, helping to prevent frost damage.

4. Move Potted Plants:

If possible, move potted plants to a sheltered area, like a covered porch, to protect them from the brunt of the cold.

5. Use Frost-Resistant Plants:

Choose plants that are more resistant to frost for your garden.

6. Prune Vulnerable Plants:

Trim back any frost-sensitive plants to reduce the overall surface area exposed to the cold and move under cover if necessary. However, we would normally leave growth on less frost sensitive plants for added protection and for winter wildlife.

7. Install Windbreaks:

Erect temporary windbreaks, such as hessian screens, to protect plants from icy winds.

8. Heating Devices:

Consider using frost cloth or mini-greenhouse structures with small heating devices for added protection if you have several frost sensitive plants.

9. Monitor Weather Forecasts:

Stay informed about upcoming weather conditions to take proactive measures when frost is predicted.

10. Harvest Produce:

Harvest ripe fruits and vegetables promptly, as frost can damage or ruin them.

11. Inspect Garden Lights:

Ensure any garden lights or heat sources are in working order to provide additional warmth.

12. Check Soil Drainage:

Ensure proper soil drainage to prevent water-logging, which can increase the risk of frost damage and lead to roots rotting.

13. Keep Plants Hydrated:

If needed water plants well before the onset of frost to maintain their hydration levels, but again take care not to over water.

14. Have Frost Cloth Handy:

Keep frost cloth or old blankets readily available for quick deployment during unexpected frosts.

We hope that these tips help to keep your garden safe this winter and looking forwards to the rush of life that Spring will bring. If you have any questions feel free to message us using our submission form on our website homepage. Or to get some monthly tips, subscribe to our newsletter!

Until next time.

First tree of the season!

At Andyn Farm, there’s an undeniable sense of pride and excitement as we lift the curtain on a new season, marking the departure of the first trees of the year. In this heartwarming snapshot, our Amelanchier × Lamarckii, affectionately featured in last month’s newsletter, is snugly bundled, poised for its journey to a brand new home. The meticulous packaging, expertly handled by our dedicated team, ensures that this beautiful tree is ready to embrace the adventures that await in the coming days.

As we bid farewell to this particular Amelanchier X Lamarckii, a stalwart member of the Andyn Farm landscape for the past five years, we can’t help but reflect on the integral role it and its companions have played in the farm’s narrative. From sapling to young tree, they’ve been witnesses to the ebb and flow of seasons, becoming a cherished part of our story.

Behind the scenes, Chris and Paul, the dynamic duo steering the ship, find little time for respite. While one tree begins its journey, their attention pivots to the rest of the crop, all preordained to find new homes this winter. It’s a bittersweet moment, parting with companions that have grown alongside us, but the joy lies in knowing they will bring life and vibrancy to new landscapes.

We’re also thrilled to share our latest eco-conscious initiative: the adoption of biodegradable pallet wrapping from Kingfisher Packaging for our winter tree deliveries. By utilising their environmentally friendly product, we’re ensuring that our deliveries are not only safe for the trees but also contribute positively to the planet. Kingfisher Packaging’s commitment to sustainability aligns seamlessly with our values, making them the ideal choice for our winter shipments. As we take this eco-friendly leap, we’re excited and looking forward to our potted plant deliveries in the upcoming spring season.

Join us in celebrating this significant milestone at Andyn Farm. As the first tree spreads its roots in a different soil, we embark on another season of growth, nurture, and the timeless beauty that trees bring to the world. Stay tuned for more updates on the flourishing landscapes we’re creating—one tree at a time.

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How to start composting

Creating a compost heap in your small garden is a rewarding and eco-friendly way to recycle kitchen and garden waste. Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you get started:

  1. Choose a Suitable Spot: Find a well-drained location in your garden that is easily accessible but away from direct sunlight. A shaded area helps maintain the right moisture levels.
  2. Gather Compostable Materials: Collect kitchen scraps like vegetable peels, coffee grounds, and eggshells. Combine these “green” materials with “brown” materials such as leaves, straw, and small branches. Small amounts of shredded cardboard can also be beneficial.
  3. Build Your Compost Pile: Create alternating layers of kitchen scraps and garden waste. Make sure to balance the mix between nitrogen-rich (kitchen scraps) and carbon-rich (leaves, straw) materials. Essentially the green materials add nutrients but can be very wet by adding the brown material such as cardboard or leaves the compost binds together better and becomes more friable. Small amounts of grass cuttings can be added just make sure that you aren’t adding too much in one go as it can clog the compost.
  4. Turn the Pile Regularly: Turn the compost heap every few weeks to aerate it, being careful to allow time for the internal temperature to rise and kill off any ‘nasties’. Regular turning helps speed up the decomposition process and ensures even composting. Simply use a garden fork or whatever’s handy to upturn the heap into another compost area or bin, this mixes the materials and allows for better compost structure.
  5. Monitor Moisture Levels: Keep an eye on the moisture content of your compost. It should be damp, like a wrung-out sponge. Add water if it’s too dry or mix in dry leaves if it’s too wet.
  6. Be Patient: Composting takes time. Depending on the conditions and materials used, your homemade compost may take several months to a year to fully mature.
  7. Use Your Finished Compost: Once your compost is dark, crumbly, and earthy-smelling, it’s ready to use. Spread it on your garden beds to enrich the soil and nourish your plants naturally.

If you’re looking for a more convenient option, companies like ‘Hotbin‘ offer specialized composting bins designed to accelerate the composting process, producing usable compost in a few months. Consider exploring ‘Hotbin‘ for a faster and efficient composting solution while enjoying the benefits of homemade composting in your small garden.

Kepple Lane Park

Welcome to our Kepple Lane Park photo gallery, a heartwarming showcase of a community park that we designed and built over a decade ago, flourishing and blooming beautifully thanks to the unwavering dedication and tender care of the local community.

How to plant an Andyn Farm Tree!

  1. Site Preparation: To plant a tree successfully, it’s important to prepare the soil properly. First, ensure the soil has enough air and moisture for the tree to thrive. You will be aiming to dig a hole as deep as the rootball and loosen the surrounding soil thoroughly. Enhance the soil’s quality by adding organic matter such as compost, which provides essential nutrients. If the area where you plan to plant the tree is waterlogged, choose tree varieties that can tolerate wet soil conditions. Alternatively, you can improve drainage by employing various techniques to remove excess water. These steps will create a favourable environment for your tree to establish strong roots and grow healthily.
  2. Handle the Rootball: Before planting, soak the rootball of the tree in a big tub of water mixed with 30 grams of sugar. This step ensures the roots are well-hydrated, providing a healthy start for the tree. Additionally, gently loosen any tightly packed roots to encourage them to grow outward. This promotes better integration with the soil, allowing the tree to establish itself more effectively.
  3. Dig the Hole: Dig a hole that is three times wider than the rootball and of the same depth. A square hole is preferable for optimal tree establishment. Loosen the soil around the sides of the hole with a fork if necessary.
  4. Position the Tree: Place the tree in the hole, ensuring the point where the roots meet the trunk is at the same level as the soil surface. Use a cane or piece of wood to assess the tree’s upright position, making sure that its not too tilted. Adjust if needed.
  5. Refill and Firm the Soil: Refill the hole around the rootball and amongst the rootball if necessary, firming down the soil with your heel to eliminate air pockets. Double-check that the stem is still upright and level with the surface after refilling the hole.
  6. Protect the Tree: Fit a tree guard or spiral around the base of the trunk if there’s a risk of wildlife damage, especially from rabbits. This protection helps the tree bark remain intact and unharmed.
  7. Water and Mulch: Water the tree thoroughly to soak its rootball, ensuring proper hydration. Spread a layer of organic mulch, about 5-8cm (2-3 inches) thick, over the soil surface. Leave a gap of 10cm (4 inches) around the trunk to prevent rotting.
  8. Stake the Tree: Insert a sturdy stake at a 45-degree angle using a mallet, anchoring it deeply into the ground. Attach the trunk to the stake with a flexible tree tie, allowing the upper trunk to flex and strengthen while keeping the base steady.
  9. Regular Maintenance: Water the tree well initially and consistently check moisture levels, especially during dry periods, for the first one or two years to support healthy growth. Taking care not to over water (waterlog) the area during wetter periods, check individual tree needs for water requirements. Check the stake and tree tie annually, gradually loosening the tie as the trunk expands. Keep the stake in place for 2-3 years until the tree is firmly rooted.
  10. Mulch and Watering: Top up the mulch annually to maintain soil moisture, improve nutrients, and suppress weeds. Continue regular watering, adapting to weather conditions and the tree’s specific needs. Proper mulching and watering contribute significantly to the tree’s long-term health and stability.

Behind the scenes at Andyn Farm

Here at Andyn Farm, there’s a buzz of activity as we prepare to lift our field-grown trees, getting them ready for their new homes. We’re genuinely excited about this process, making room for fresh arrivals on our farm. In this blog post, we’ll take you behind the scenes to see how we will carefully lift and prepare our trees. It’s a practical glimpse into our work, highlighting the care we put into each tree. Join us as we share this essential part of our farming journey and the satisfaction that comes with connecting our trees to new gardens

1. Choose the Right Time: We’re excited about the upcoming tree lifting at the end of the month! Our trees are getting ready for their new homes, and this period, when they’re taking a rest, is the perfect time for a smooth transition to your garden. The cold weather slows down their metabolic activity reducing growth rate, minimising stress on the trees during transplantation and ensuring a smoother transition.

2. Prepare the Trees: Before we start, rest assured that each tree will be given individual attention. We will prune away any damaged or diseased branches, promoting overall tree health and ensure the trees are well-hydrated by thoroughly watering them a day or two prior to the scheduled lifting. Adequate hydration is crucial to prevent stress and shock during the transition. Healthy and happy trees make for a successful planting experience!

3. Lifting the Trees: Using precise techniques, our team will lift each tree with skill and care. Chris and the team will be paying extra attention to the root structure so it remains intact, preserving their health and vitality for a thriving life in your garden. Lifting the trees with intact root balls is crucial for preserving the delicate root system and ensuring a successful transplantation process.

4. Wrap the Roots: We’ll inspect every root, making sure they’re in top condition. To protect them during their journey to your home, we’ll wrap them gently in burlap, securing the soil around them and keeping them nice and moist.

5. Transportation to Your Home: After careful examination of the roots of each tree, we will trim any damaged or excessively long ones. To protect the roots from drying out and physical damage during transportation, we are planning to wrap them in burlap. The burlap will act as a safeguard, securing the soil around the roots and maintaining the necessary moisture levels essential for the trees’ survival.

6. Planting Advice for You: Before the new trees arrive, we’ll make sure their new owners all set with essential information. We’ll provide detailed instructions on the perfect planting depth and techniques, so you can confidently welcome them into your garden. Let’s not forget about mulching – it acts like a natural shield, regulating soil temperature and keeping the moisture just right. And when it comes to watering, especially during those crucial initial weeks, we’ll equip you with all the tips you need for success. Remember, we’re just a call or message away. Your confidence in caring for your newly acquired trees is our top priority, and we’re here to support you every step of the way!

If you would like to order any trees this winter, check out our plant catalogue here