More shrink pots

I can’t get settled on a form for these boys.  Whether to turn the outside, draw knife it, just take the bark off, bark on or what.  The variety does please me:

I do like the wobbliness when they are a simple hollowed branch.

Then there’s the lids … turned, free form or what?

There’s a Swedish type of top I was reading about (come on it was in German -Ed), well looking at then, in Jogge Sundquist’s book.  These are carved but using saw cuts to cut in to make deeper profiles easier. Watch this space.

I’m getting ready for four days at RHS Harlow Carr in Harrogate this weekend, so lots of making mini hurdles, stools, benches and maybe a few bean poles and pea sticks, busy, busy.

Levens revisited

In my original post I mentioned the hazel plant supports they were putting in the herbaceous borders.  It seemed like a really good idea and my wife Jane has just installed some in our garden.  Here’s how:

Get your husband to source some hazel branchlets:

It takes about five to surround a decent sized plant (these are mainly herbaceous geraniums).  Make sure the cut ends are pointed and push them into the ground and start to form a platform above the plants by bending the rods over.

Then tie the twigs to each other with twine to hold the structure together.

Ta dah!

It’s easy to write it up, but rather more effort is involved actually doing it, but worth it for the results I think.  Jane was having difficulty pushing the sticks in because the ground is so hard – very unusual for here at this (any) time of year.

In Summer the plants will grow through the hazel which will then become an invisible support.

Levens, two headed goats & stags’ heads

We went to Levens Hall yesterday.  Why do people think they need to fly around the world when there are places like this an hour’s drive away.  There was some fine craftsmanship and some outstanding tree-work. Look at this for walling! I think it is pretty recent. but the gates have been around for some time: I really admire what a smith can do with iron which, when finished looks impossibly unworkable. Here’s detail of another gate in he same garden. The work of the hall itself is fine too, we didn’t go inside – it was too sunny a day, but even from outside it is stunning, look at these downspouts and can head: The heart emblem is said to represent the winning card of a card game that acquired the house in days long past. These cylindrical chimney stacks with slate ‘pot’ took my fancy too! But the real craft of this garden took hundreds of years work to produce: Takes four gardeners a month to clip, feast your eyes and imagination! They have a blight problem with the small box hedges and considering the hundreds and hundreds of yards there are it must be a real headache.  The rest of the garden is stunning too with a magnificent fountain garden topped with pleached limes.  We chatted to two lady gardeners who were bending hazel twigs into natural plant supports.  We’ll be trying this at home. The whole place has a magical air (especially if you arrive before opening time) there is a surprise around every corner. Across the road is the deer park, fairly recently converted ( c 1700) from a medeval deer park into a leisure park.  There are many fine oak trees: And some examples of stag head oaks where drought has caused the trees’ branches to die back and then regenerate: The park has black fallow deer, sheep and Bagot goats (the current owners of the estate are called Bagot): Spotted a double-header amongst them The park is as interesting as the garden, the grass seems to be original unimproved pasture and full of flowers Some interesting replanting too, never seen a tree within a tree before! However, considering the amount of damage recently suffered from flooding in this district, someone really ought to be checking debris building up against bridges. Footnote Forgot my backup camera batteries and had to resort to the videocam for later shots, apologies for the poor quality.

Shifting knots

I’m still hauling the felled second quality wood out to my trailer and up to the yard for drying out for logs and charcoal.  It’s all ride-side, but quite a distance from the vehicular track.  I’m using the lift and shift, but this smaller stuff needs to be bundled to make the trips to the trailer efficient,  I’ve experimented with various ways of making the bundles, which at first were rather unstable causing much cursing as the logs dropped out before reaching the destination.  So here’s my solution.

All I need is:

A looped rope, a length of rope, a stick, Lift n’Shift with carabiner and some logs.

I found this knot in Ray Mears Survival book (very interesting book but I doubt I’ll ever need to know about ice fishing for instance).

Start by laying out the rope thusly:

One loop and one rope end at each side.  Then lay on the logs for transporting

Pass the rope ends through the loop from the opposite side and pull tight.  You now have three bindings round the logs.  Tie the ends of the rope, I use a shoelace bow:

Then I fasten the 3 bindings to the Lift n’Shift with a carabiner and use the loop and stick to fasten the heavy end on.

All that remains is to walk the load down to the trailer, rather a steep hill.  Someone asked if I had brakes! Dropping the handle would be quite effective.

By the way, if anyone is wondering, the broad leaves are wild garlic or Ramsons.

Huntin’, Epping and buildings

We went to London last weekend to visit my daughter.  On the way we called in at a random part of Epping Forest. I noticed that Spring is a tad further on down there, so we were travelling forward in time, and will get a second chance as Spring progresses “Up North”.  Here’s some shooting Hornbeam, a species we don’t have much up in Yorkshire.

It makes for rather an unusual leaf litter, reminded me of home-made tobacco:

This 12 mile stretch of woodland has a fascinating history, sadly littered with enclosure and destruction of woodland by the rich and loss of rights by the poor.  Epping Forest was used variously for wood fuel, royal deer hunts and grazing cattle:

There has been a reintroduction of grazing in the 21st century in the shape of a dozen Longhorn cattle, but unfortunately they were still tucked away in their Winter quarters.

We spotted an interesting-looking building on a little hill which turns out to be Queen Elizabeth I’s Hunting Lodge, built by her father:

It used to be open at the top two galleries for shooting at deer passing by on Chingford Plain (driven there, I’ll bet!).  It’s a timber-framed building, and there are some mighty timbers used in its construction, probably brought in for the job from further afield

The upper floors have been made to shed water getting in through the open galleries and have an amazing bow towards the outside walls.  Like many buildings of this age it has gone through many uses but is now set out as a museum, and in a corner I found some authentic looking turned plates and bowls

On closer inspection I found they were the work of my friend Robin Wood (see link aside)!

There was also an interesting large elm bowl, I’m not sure of its provenance:

This leathern jug took my fancy too:

My late father used to be fascinated by these when he used to visit a friend at Chelsea Hospital for retired army chaps.

The roof timbers were very decorative and these sections were supposed to be reminiscent of deer antlers.

Down into London and we were surprised to see that there are no builders’ cranes over docklands!

Walked past a fine terrace, St John’s Church Road, on the way to the National Trust’s Sutton House, quite unlike the terraces in Brooklyn

Mind you a shed at the bottom of the garden takes a lot of beating: