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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.