Winter in the Workshop Garden

One of the main objectives at Clayhill is to create a space that will be a haven for wildlife. It is well documented that many of our native species have declined in recent years, so we want to make sure we look after everything that lives here or is visiting. As we are in amongst large amounts of farmland, we want to make sure that the wildlife is catered for in amongst the more intensively managed fields. Increasing the number of flowers for bees and other pollinators and trying to create ‘corridors’ for the birds to be able to move between, whether that is for shelter of for food. You can never have too much for the pollinators/birds, right? The workshop garden will be a space that will have a few trees, shrubs, flowers and grasses, all chosen to benefit the wildlife. When it comes to planting there are a couple of issues that can cause problems here; It is exposed to the elements so it can get a battering by the wind and the soil is extremely poor heavy clay in places with lots of stones which is almost subsoil. So bad I had to use a pickaxe!

The space for the workshop garden has both factors to contend with. The trees, shrubs and plants that have been selected for the garden have to be of benefit to wildlife, flowers for the pollinators, berries and seeds for the birds and other wildlife. The trees and shrubs we decided on so far include Rowan, Cotoneaster, Holly, Dogwood, Bird cherries, Guelder roses, Euonymus and Callicarpa.

Most of the trees/shrubs that I have planted are bare root. This is when they are grown at the nurseries and dug up in the winter when they are dormant (usually between November and February) and sent without a pot and compost, showing their bare roots. This is a more cost-effective way to buy plants and trees. As we have a lot here at Clayhill that is always a factor to consider. 

After planting the trees and shrubs there is still quite a lot of space to work with.  To improve the diversity of wildlife that we want to attract we will also be planting a mixture of other plants and grasses. The flowers will help the pollinators and the plan is to grow grasses that provide seed heads for birds later in the year. This will also break up the large space and add nice structure in summer and autumn where the grasses will provide nice movement in the breeze, (or very strong winds), which we hope people will enjoy from the seating area around the firepit, when we’re all able to get together again.

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