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We bought a quarry (Jan 2022)

Happy new year to you all.

December was a bit of a frustrating month while we battle to get our planning permission over the line. The case officer appointed to our application has to now adhere to a number of new measures to make sure that our plans satisfy a number of environmental issues like ‘are we using recyclable plastic on our polytunnels’ and will be be using recycled wood to build our office/shed? They obviously don’t recognise the fact that the whole purpose of the plans is to grow plants to encourage wildlife etc but there you go. We have now agreed to use solar panels on the shed and irrigation direct from the quarry. its a long slow process. Finally we have been asked to move the planting area for Palms nearer to our main entrance to reduce traffic driving down there, again they are not considering that having a base here saves 100 driving miles for clients in Cornwall to visit rather than coming up to our nursery in Exeter.

On a positive note we have had a local chap build us a Barn Owl Box to the exact specifications required and we hope as a longer term plan to encourage them to nest with us. We know we have them in the area particularly heading over towards Holsworthy just north of us. The box will be mounted on a large oak on the edge of the quarry and visible from quite a distance. Not sure how our resident roosting Tawny Owl will tolerate them but they do have different feeding habits with the Tawny hunting at night in woodlands and the Barny preferring to hunt voles in broad daylight.

Alongside the Owls we have set up bird boxes targeting specific species including Blue tits, Spotted Flycatchers, Woodpeckers and hopefully a Nuthatch.

Work has continued on our dead hedge with over 40 meters completed and already Wrens and Blackcaps have been popping in and out.

Early January we have the bulldozers coming in to clear an area of rough grassland (around 3/4 acre) which will be the foundation for a new wildflower meadow. A selection of native annual and perennial wildflowers will be sown early March and should produce a spectacular display by mid-summer and we have started work on the necessary pathways required to navigate the site.

Inside the quarry we continue to assess the water quality to see if we can accommodate fish stocks successfully so we have needed to set Crayfish traps and traps to catch any rogue Terrapins that might have been rehoused here. Good news is we have seen a Kingfisher. All being well we will introduce around 200 Common Carp by mid spring.

All in all we start this new year quietly optimistic and wait with eager anticipation for what might arrive here in the spring.

Andrew, Karen and Tom Pearson

Palmtraders UK

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UK’s first Palm Farm – Opening Summer 2022

Work is very truly underway at a nine acre site we have purchased on the Devon/Cornwall border where we plan to start planting 20,000 young Palms of 20 different varieties over the next five years creating Britain’s first ever Palm Tree Farm. This perfect location adjacent to the A30 will act as a sub-station to our nursery in Exeter. Updates to follow in the new year.

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Protea Little Prince -Offer

From 13th December to 14th February we are offering these very special plants for just £19.95 plus £5.00 p&p. The perfect gift for Xmas or Valentines Day they are currently in bud and looking superb.

These plants are surprisingly hardy given the correct planting medium of 50% ericaceous compost and 50% grit or horticultural sand and perform equally as well in pots or in the ground given full sun if possible.

This is a rare opportunity to buy a beautiful plant from the Western Cape that are not often offered for sale in the UK.

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We Bought a Quarry (1 Dec 2021)

Hello and welcome to our December blog.

November was a voyage of discovery with this new project. We needed to take a good look at the Quarry and the surrounding 9 acres and get a feel for the place before making any rash decisons that we might later regret.

Its been an interesting month where we first discovered that the Quarry has its own micro climate which opens up all kinds of planting possibilities. The temperature inside the ravine is 2c warmer than the surface but only half way down the slope in an area known as the thermal belt. Below this to the level of the water in the lake it is actually 1c cooler due to something that occurs in winter causing a radiational freeze. All news to me but very helpful with our planned ‘planting for wildlife scheme’.

The area is home to a great number of bird species including the Spotted Flycatcher a bird that has decreased in numbers by 90% since the 70’s so priority number one is to help support them. Fortunately they like nest boxes so these will be provided before the spring. Wildlife cameras have been set up now to record what’s going on a t night. we know we have a resident Tawny Owl.

With regards to the Palm Tree Farm progress was made with our planning application to site two substantial Poly tunnels and an office building in a flat area to the south of the plot so work will start this week. To do this we regrettably need to fell a number of immature Blackthorn trees but these won’t be wasted as we plan to use the branches to help build a dead hedge around part of the quarry to encourage birds like finches and Dunnocks to nest and the trunks will be cut and used as bug hotels at ground level. The siting of the tunnels will enable us to grow many of the plants needed for the re-wilding project

Longer term we have discovered that the quarry was last mined in 1890 for slate and there is an abundance of large slate stones lying around that could be used to build a wildlife observation centre subject to planning etc. The water has now been tested and cleared of any noxious contamination so the next step is to introduce more vegetation into the lake. (Currently doing my homework on this subject). We have also planted around 150 hedging plants as a windbreak but watching our resident Roe Deer very carefully in case they fancy a nibble.

All in all this has been a positive month with no major setbacks and very little expense. This week we will start on the new dead hedge created by positioning two parallel lines of fence stakes a meter apart and filling the channel with all the cuttings we make around the site particularly from the 120 Oaks we have on site and numerous mature Hawthorns. Also we will start planning the pathways using loose slate as a from of hardcore and composted bark chip and clearing two areas of brambles and bracken for wildflower meadows. All exciting stuff.

That’s it for now and have a wonderful Xmas and I will update in the new year.

regards,

Andrew

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“We Bought a Quarry”

(The Story of the Uk’s first Palm Tree Farm)

November 2021, and welcome to our new blog.

Recently we purchased a nine acre plot of land near the Devon/Cornwall border to build Britain’s first Palm Tree Farm and this is our story documenting the trials and tribulations on creating a project of this size from scratch. The plan is to publish monthly updates highlighting the successes an failures of our new adventure.

After 26 years of running a nursery in Exeter we decided after Brexit that we needed a long term future plan and finally managed to secure at auction a very rough neglected plot right on the A30 that included an ancient slate quarry that now accommodates a large fresh water pond. ( perfect for irrigation was our thinking) and here was our first challenge.

We needed to begin first by testing the water for Ph, ammonia and nitrates and secondly by determining weather any contamination had taken place after the quarry was abandoned over 70 years ago. The title deed suggested there were disused water tanks under the water with lead piping leading to a water valve. There seems very little signs of life in the water except a family of Mallards that reside deep in the undergrowth so I guess that shows signs of promise.

Our thoughts at this point was to gradually add vegetation to oxygenate the water and ultimately to stock fish which would be perfect for wildlife. the surroundings of the quarry are extremely overgrown and reminds us of ‘Devils bayou’ the very creepy scene at the beginning of Disney’s ‘The Rescuers’, so that is our nickname.

The quarry is a natural wildlife haven for birds including a roosting Tawney Owl by day and there are many mature hawthorn trees covered with berries that we need to protect.

Moving on to the long term objective!

We have many Roe Deer, thousands of rabbits, and there are foxes, badgers and probably many other critters yet to be discovered I am sure.

The first thing we needed to do was apply for planning permission to erect two Poly tunnels and this can take up to two months but in the meantime we are making some temporary pathways until the permission is granted and have measured two growing areas where we plan to plant 20,000 young Palm Trees over the next three years. We are also putting up a new gateway of 12 feet width and planning stock fencing to keep the rabbits and Deer from eating the young plants.

That’s about it for this month we will document our progress at the beginning of each month.

many thanks,

Andrew Pearson

Palmtraders UK

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Welcome to PalmTraders

Founded in 1993 Palmtraders UK began life in a tropical tea garden in Devon and by the turn of the millennium was recognised as one of the countries leading suppliers of palms and exotic plants. From a nursery base in Exeter, plants are distributed across Europe destined to grace private and botanical gardens. Our advice center gives you everything you need to know to successfully grow and appreciate these stunning architectural plants and if you are planning a Mediterranean themed garden, brightening up the office, or just looking for an unusual gift idea we invite you to discover the wonderful world of palms.