The Bettys shelter that I was talking about a few weeks ago has now been finished and properly opened. With it comes its official name "The Acorn Shelter". This seemed an appropriate name as from little acorns large oaks grow and the centre post is fashioned from one of our stately oaks that had to be felled in the garden.
A lovely finishing touch to the shelter is the leaves that have been lovingly carved by Richard Taylor who created the shelter. They look so natural as though they have blown into the shelter on a gust of wind and just stuck there. Bettys had a tree planting morning where some of their staff were invited to help plant up 100 native trees in the field adjoining and it was all very pleasant.
The woodland team were standing by with spades, tree guards, some of our own compost and lots of planting advice, it all went very well and they were really pleased to be part of the opening ceremony and the tree planting. Most of the Bettys staff who were present work in the cafes and the offices around their business and don’t get the chance for ‘getting out in the field’. A feel-good glow hung over everyone all morning, especially when teas, coffee and biscuits were served afterwards.
Up in the glade Aimee-Beth and some of the Tuesday volunteers have been busy strengthening the planting by creating a drift of witch hazels (Hamamelis) for winter colour. At the back they had planted a beautiful Liquidambar. They are in the same family as Hamamelis and therefore have the same glorious colour range.
This Liquidambar is called ‘Palo Alto’ which in a few years will be a glorious riot of lovely autumn colours. It is slow growing and will reach 10 to 15 metres (30-50ft) eventually. It has been under planted with Ilex crenata ‘Golden Gem’ which adds a splash of evergreen brightness. Ilex crenata (box leaved holly) is a good slow growing evergreen, and copes well with all kinds of shady spots so if you have a problem area pop a few in - they’ll provide a lift of colour and all year interest. The volunteers really enjoyed doing some planting and it made a good change for them. They often come into the gardens for visits with family and friends and enjoy showing them their own contributions.
After admiring everyone’s handiwork I meandered back through the woodland and spotted another splash of colour this time from a group of Cotinus, aptly named ‘smoke bush’ they really created a lovely fiery glow and warmed my heart.