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We bought a Quarry (Feb 2022)

Six months ago my wife and I purchased a nine acre plot of land on the Devon/Cornwall border that included an ancient slate quarry. This is our story of how we plan to build the UK’s first Palm Tree Farm and Botanical Garden.

February 2022 was a month governed by the weather, we expected plunging temperatures and possibly snow being close to Dartmoor but what we got was excessive rainfall and two of the most powerful storms in recent history.

On a positive note the temperatures remained above freezing for the whole month and the mercury only got as low a 4C in the quarry meaning all our plants so far are looking pretty healthy. The water table rose by 18 inches in February on the lake but not enough to raise any concerns , we did however lose a couple of trees including one of our beloved hawthorns so this has now been cut up and used to line the internal pathway and should ultimately create a habitat for lots of invertebrates.

Despite the weather we have managed to complete 50% of the pathway allowing us to navigate the most tricky parts of the ravine and have laid around a dozen slate slabs to make it safe passage.

It was always our intention to spend the first six months observing what we have got so as not to make too many rash decisions that we will regret at a later date but as the site evolves and shares its secrets we are thinking this would would make an ideal botanical garden or sculpture garden subject to all the difficult planning consents so with that in the back of our minds we are now thinking differently about what to plant and where. The dank nature of the quarry lends itself to tree ferns and shade loving plants such as Hellebores but we also like the idea of commissioning local sculptors to exhibit their work to perhaps celebrate the history of the quarry and using local stone. Just ideas at the moment.

As of March 1st we are still battling with West Devon Council over permission to erect the two poly tunnels despite ticking every imaginable box regarding the environment etc. Decision now expected on 10th March.

This month we start to sow the wildflower meadow over a one acre south facing field we have topped which hope fully will produce a colourful mix of native flowers for our pollinators. Other projects are to create a memorial garden for our daughter with a bench and small garden planted in her memory. Her name was Becky so we are thinking of a bed of Rudbeckia plants. Very colourful ,like her personality ,and doing their thing during August/September. Also she was very fond of nature including hedgehogs so we are looking to make safe the whole site and introducing a new family to the project.

Finally the trees are beginning to sprout and soon we will be able to see which are alive and which are not. The 310 Oaks have been coppiced so should start to take better shape this summer. Photos to follow soon.

Many thanks and bye for now.

Andy & Karen