by Matt Noyce, Head Gardener at Quarr Abbey.

The festive season is now upon us, and the prospect of a new year will soon be realised. It seems like only last week that we were still cropping vegetables and out regularly mowing the grass.

Adaptability is key in land-based work, and the seasons play a big part in dictating what’s next on the list within the grounds of Quarr Abbey.

With that said, we have made the usual seasonal shift of emphasis away from the more ornamental areas and the vegetable plot onto the hedgerows, woodlands and paths of the estate and private enclosure. Much of this work is carried out in the ‘dormant season’, the time when most trees and shrubs go into a state of hibernation of sorts, and active growth ceases until the sap starts rising again in the warmer and lighter weather of the spring.

Many of our hedges are getting a good trim, well away from the bird nesting season. We are also planning to prune back and replant areas which have become a bit tired over the years.

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 over-wintering birds might enjoy. A quick weed also keeps the areas looking tidy.

The vegetable plot has been getting a good tidy up and plastic pots and trays have been cleaned to be reused next year. Outside, a mulch has been applied to the beds to give them time to break down nicely into the soil over the next few months.

Log splitting has been underway for some time now and the demand is high across the site, from the Abbey 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 and keep the season’s chills at bay.

We have had a bit of an extraordinary time at the Abbey recently, with many of us being filmed for a BBC programme named ‘Heaven Made’. It has been quite a learning curve for most of us but an enjoyable one at that. It is hoped that not only will it be a good platform to showcase Quarr Abbey’s produce, beautiful location and architecture but also the spirituality that is at its core. We also hope the wider community of the Island will benefit from this beautifully filmed programme.

PS. I must add that I have had some new company whilst writing this latest article, in the shape of our newest member of my family, our mischievous little Airedale pup!

Wishing everyone a Happy and Healthy Christmas Season and New Year – Matt.

Pictures by Matt Noyce.