Newly Skinned – Shelterbelt Nursery
Marwood’s shelterbelt is located at the western most end of the garden, in a parcel of land behind Marwood’s church. It became part of Marwood Hill Gardens post-1975, when Dr Smart, the gardens creator and then owner, brought 12 acres of pastureland at bottom of the valley. Over the next two decades, Dr Smart and the team gradually extended the garden, a piece at a time. By 1995 the 12-acres had become full fledges garden rather than the field land it was originally. This newly acquired land was exposed to prevailing westerly gales, so to protect the new plantings, a shelter belt of trees was planted across the top of the hill to the west of the church. These trees included Leyland Cypress and several rows of Larch (Larix kaempferi), interspersed with Eucalypts and Nothofagus. They were planted thickly to get them established, and progressively thinned over the years.
Earlier this year, a severe storm hit several trees in the garden (Storm Eunice), and as with many local gardens, the damage was significant and flattened a significant part of the shelterbelt. The shelterbelt performed its duty beautifully, protecting shrubs and trees to its east, however in the process much of the shelterbelt itself was destroyed! It was not just trees that were damaged, but also garden structures, the folly and four polytunnels in the shelterbelt nursery. Presently much of this damage has been dealt with and moved away (though much remains). The polytunnels have yet to be fixed, and this month we intend to do exactly that!
Over the past few months, the team have been working hard to remove and clear all the old tunnels, old polythene has been cut away from the structures and years of detritus have been removed. The polytunnels are large and long, and are located across a gentle north facing slope. They have been incredibly useful – one for storage of benches during the winter, one for the historic production of vegetables, one for the production of Camellias and one affectionately known as the A and E tunnel, where plants go for some rest and recuperation under one of our gardener Lin’s care.
With the push to drive plant sales and an increased drive to propagate much of Marwood’s rare and wonderful plants in-house, the garden is in desperate need of these polytunnels. This month they will be reskinned and fixed and brought back to life. Having never reskinned a tunnel before, I for one am very interested to learn how!
The plan is to dig a trench round each tunnel, wrap special polytunnel tape round the metal structure to protect the new polythene from sharp edges. The polythene should then be pulled tightly across the structure and the skirt weight down by back filling the surrounding trench. We hope for a sunny day, as this will allow the polythene to stretch tightly across the frame. Finishing touches will include new doorways at each end of the tunnel.
We look forward to sharing the finished product with you!