From alpines to eggs

From the rainbow of colour in the Alpine House to the anticipation of fluffy baby chicks, spring is definitely in the air at Harlow Carr...

The Alpine House is positively bursting with colour and form at the moment. You turn your back and hey presto, yet more flowers are blooming, giving us wall to wall colour.

Iris 'Clairette'From the bright little Iris ‘Clairette’ to the Oxalis veriscolor and Galanthus ‘Brenda Troyle’, they never fail to excite me, and you don’t have to be a contortionist to look at them in detail thanks to the beds being high enough for all to examine their beauty.

In another part of the garden there is a lot of noise going on, as the stump grinder swings into action, taking out the tree stumps from an old boundary. This fascinating machine works remotely - off it crawls to settle itself over the top of a stump like a brooding hen hatching an egg. Then the noise begins as it works its way into the stump.

The stump grinder at workOnce the stump is ground out, the area can be levelled and planted up again, so although it’s noisy we forgive it! This opens up new planting pockets so that we can enhance these areas again.

Talking of brooding hens, the Harlow Carr eggs are due to hatch soon. Cared for by Joe (from the kitchen garden), in 21 days they will have hatched and grown into fluffy little hatchlings at his home. Their new hen house has also arrived on site. The beauty of it is that it can be deep cleaned if necessary to stop any build-up of mites which make hens so uncomfortable in warm weather. The run is already half built but will be re-sited - the area where it was previously has been re-seeded to allow it to recover. Initially we had thought we should put it on the other side of the meadow; but that is near the wood-fired oven, so we thought that might make them nervous in case chicken was ever on the menu!

Although some of our hardy volunteers work right through the winter - weather permitting, we look forward to welcoming back the bulk of the group in March, and Ali (Garden Manager) and I have been busy preparing to interview some more volunteers to strengthen our woodland volunteering group. I look forward to meeting all of those people for a chat and a walk round the woodland so they can see what we’re all about.

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