by Matt Noyce, Head Gardener at Quarr Abbey.

A hearty chill in the air as I stepped outside recently had me wondering for the first time this season about where I had left my gloves. It was the realisation that perhaps we are, after all, heading into winter and not just sailing from autumn straight into spring.

With weeks of mild wet weather, the recent precipitation has made it feel more akin to April than November. I guess we can liken the seasons to we as people who endure these unpredictable events. Preparing ourselves to head into the dark colder winter, but then emerging through the other side invigorated and full of promise for the year to come…

With this said, Quarr Abbey is ready to embrace the festive season and welcome in the New Year.

Many hands make light work

Within the gardens and grounds, the focus has very much shifted towards the general estate works and importantly to finish trimming and tidying the hedgerows. Recently, we have welcomed some dedicated new volunteers to help us over the coming months (and hopefully years). These helpers have been getting stuck into the tasks at hand. It’s said that many hands make light work, and we are finding out that this is certainly the case.

The recent winds have unfortunately impacted on some of our trees, in particular the Oak trees. We have been clearing these up as we go but it is important to keep an eye on the trees around you. Note any changes that occur, such as slight permanent change of angle to the trunk, soil lifting or ‘heave’ around the roots and base of the tree, and broken branches or ‘hangers’ that may need removing.

A large task that we undertake during this season is the pruning of the fruit trees, particularly the apple and pear trees. Much of this pruning work is carried out in the ‘dormant season’, the time when most trees and shrubs go into a state of hibernation of sorts and when active growth ceases until the sap starts rising again in the warmer and lighter weather of the spring.

Keeping the heating bills down

The borders are getting a good clear out by us removing the last of the fallen leaves and pruning any remaining finished foliage, whilst trying to leave any seed heads that overwintering birds might enjoy.

Within the walled garden, an annual mulch will be applied to the beds and borders to give them time to break down nicely into the soil over the next few months.

Our favourite rainy day job of log splitting has been under way for some time now and demand is high. From the monks common room, to the workshops and the tea shop, all of which are heated using our own fuel. We have a sustainable supply of hardwoods and softwoods from the estate to see us through the winter months. Keeps the winter chills at bay and importantly also help keep the heating bills down too!

Wishing everyone a Happy and Healthy Christmas Season and New Year!

Pictures by Matt Noyce.