Plans for a wildlife area were started in 1990. The existing grassland was deturfed, rough dug and then rotavated, before being planted with potatoes to help break up the heavy clay. The existing but not very special apple trees were left and the last trunk of the hawthorn hedge left untrimmed. When the potatoes were harvested the pond was dug. The pond is about 3ft deep and designed especially for native wildlife. The soil excavated from the pond was piled up behind to form a small bank along with spare upturned turf from other parts of the garden. Meadow grass was sown and rotting wood piled in one corner a safe-haven for insects, wildlife and small mammals. An oak, a silver birch and an apple tree grown from a pip were planted. The birch suffered from the wind from an early age and spent a substantial period of its young life tethered against the bottom of the hawthorn hedge successful in so much as the tree just leant rather than growing almost horizontal! However in the last year or so we had to cut it down as it had outgrown the area. The oak can still be seen to this day but the apple had to go in 2007 as it too had outgrown the space.
In the first year the grass grew and flowered well. In the summer the grass was cut and the seeds allowed to disperse. Unfortunately due to the high quality of the soil the quality of the meadow grasses slowly decreased. In 2001 it was decided to remove what was left of the meadow and change the area into a woodland area instead (without touching the pond ). A 12 trench was dug (through the frozen earth) for the path, which was lined with old carpets and then filled with shreddings to give a spongy walk effect. To the right of the path a hollow was dug. The soil from both excavations was piled to the left of the path extending the natural slope of the ground and leaving a very natural looking finish. Slabs were laid alongside the hawthorn hedge to facilitate easy maintenance not terribly natural but they can be covered in dry organic matter. A bench was placed on a reasonably high bit of ground affording an excellent view across the fields. The archway was also added, along with the fence. Many possibilities were considered for this arch and fence. Timber had to be tanalised to stop it rotting and we decided clean cut round posts were most suitable. Using split logs halved the cost of the fences and purchasing wood from a timber yard rather than a DIY store also made things much cheaper. The posts are set about 2ft into the soil (not concreted). The archway had to be wide enough to get a wheel barrow through without removing ones knuckles but we didnt want it much wider because of the size of the area it leads on to.
To help decrease the number of weeds coming into the garden from the field
especially couch grass - a long strip of plastic has been buried vertically
alongside the hedge. Old carpets have also been laid on top of the verge alongside
the hedge to reduce the undergrowing by weeds. In 2007 we removed the hawthorn
hedge and planted a yew hedge.