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We bought a Quarry – July 2022

Last October we successfully completed the purchase of a nine acre plot of land on the Devon/Cornwall border that included an ancient slate quarry with a lake. This is our story documenting the trials and tribulations of building a new sub-tropical garden.

Ten months down the line since we took on this ambitious project we are just beginning to understand the task ahead. We always planned to give the project a full year before we made any dramatic changes to the landscape with a view to observing the wildlife and flora and fauna on the site. We wanted to be certain that any changes we make does not upset the eco system here that has been undisturbed for 130 years. So far where it has been necessary to fell a few Elder trees the wood has been used for a dead hedge along the western border of the quarry and for bordering an internal pathway.

Ideas are constantly evolving as we move through the seasons and we have a number of awesome Hawthorn trees, many over 150 years old. The Hawthorn Tree is known as the Fairy Tree so Karen suggested we create a fairy trail. This has involved creating a narrow pathway following the position of the most impressive Hawthorns and has created a new hobby for both of us. Karen picked up a book on the history of fairies from Glastonbury which has given us an understanding of how not to upset these gentle creatures of the night and I have taken up art and have been busy creating signs but I am not very good at it, at 61 my hands are a little shaky. I told you we were Mad!

Work has begun on putting a fence around the Quarry which is over 2.5 acres with the main gates going up this week. This will give us a further degree of frost protection in the most exposed areas and therefore give us further scope for planting plants of borderline hardiness. This is a big and expensive project but it will be done in stages as and when we can afford it.

Mains water was finally connected on 5th July if we need it but to be honest at the moment everything is being watered from the lake. The lake water contains valuable nutrition that includes stuff like duckweed and the plants are loving it.

Another setback has been the need for mains electric to power a waterfall on the north side of the rockface but our neighbour has agreed to contribute towards this so he can have a supply to his stable block ambitions, the problem at the moment is that we cannot get Great Western Power to give us a quote even though we were told after their site visit this would be with us by 25th June. It seems they have gone into hibernation. very frustrating!

Outside of the quarry our wild flower meadow has gone a bit wrong. After sowing 3/4 acre back in March a very dry April set back germination and when the rains finally came in June we were taken over by creeping thistle, brambles and Ragwort and because of my reluctance to us any herbicides I am letting nature be this year and will have another go next spring. At least the weeds have given us an impressive display from the resident moths and butterflies but a costly mis-calculation.

Currently as we begin August we have the impressive frog exodos underway with thousands of them leaving the lake on their annual pilgrimage only to be eaten by everything, birds liazrds and all the creatures of the night . It is estimated that less than 2% survive to adulthood.

Finally as part of our journey I am reading everything from filed guides to rewilding successes and can strongly recommend a book called ‘Rewild Yourself’ by Simon Barnes if anyone wanted to try this at home. Very educational for young children and amusing for adults.

All in all though we are on target and have set an ambitious opening date for Easter 2025 subject to planning etc.

Love to All.

Andy & Karen