NEW COOL GARDEN AT RHS ROSEMOOR

A new Cool Garden, designed by Chelsea gold medallist Jo Thompson, will open at RHS Garden Rosemoor this month. The new garden, centred on the use of water, will feature plants with blue, white and pastel-coloured flowers complemented by grey foliage. It will provide a calming contrast to the fiery colours of the nearby Hot Garden.

The main theme of the garden is how gardeners can deal with heavy rainfall, a typical occurrence in Devon but also an increasing challenge elsewhere in the UK because of climate change. It has been three years in the planning and represents a £¼ m injection of new garden content. It will prove to be a huge draw for tourism with both previous visitors to the garden and new audiences wanting to see it.

It is also the first garden at Rosemoor to be designed around an ornamental water feature. A curved terrace allows visitors to look down across the plantings, and the terrace wall has five water blades which feed rills running through the garden to a teardrop-shaped pond.

The new design builds upon the relaxed planting of the former Spiral Garden (which was designed by Tom Stuart-Smith in 1991 shortly after Rosemoor was gifted to the RHS). The design and planting have stood the test of time with its subtle pastel tones and silvery foliage. Many of the original plants will be incorporated into the new Cool Garden, but the portfolio of plants, especially those with blue and white flowers, will be increased and the sinuous water feature will add a beautiful and reflective element.

The garden’s designer, Jo Thompson, explains the principles underlying the Cool Garden’s design: “Situated in a location with some of the highest recorded annual rainfall in the UK, we wanted to harness the abundance of water, by channelling it to a particular part of the site. This is a good example of how gardeners need to embrace the conditions they have to work with and turn a potential problem into a focal point.”

Jo continues: “Having the opportunity to work on a flagship garden such as RHS Rosemoor is a real privilege, by being able to make a landscape that is openly accessible to everyone to see and enjoy and be inspired by.”

Jonathan Webster, Curator at RHS Garden Rosemoor, said: “Although we have natural streams at Rosemoor, we want to show our visitors how a designed landscape can help to deal with heavy rainfall. As well as the rills, the lower section of the garden will be a permeable resin bound gravel to help reduce water run-off, showing how visitors can be inspired to find solutions at home.”

Planting is based upon a cool, pastel planting scheme and contrasts with the bold colours of the Hot Garden, which features reds, oranges, purples and yellows and is a blaze of bright colour in summer.  Around 2,500 plants have been put in, with around 50% being recycled from the old Spiral Garden and the rest representing new plants to Rosemoor. Plants that have been specially selected are tried and tested in this region and include the silver birch Betula pendula Fastigiata Joes (‘Jolep 1’), selections of Hydrangea paniculata and Philadelphus, a selection of grasses to add movement and texture and Nepeta racemosa ‘Walker’s Low’ commonly called catmint.

Construction of the Cool Garden began last August by a local Devon-based company, Rural Stonework & Landscapes, who have built a couple of the show gardens at previous Chelsea Flower Shows. They have wonderful artisan skills in stone walling – a typical feature of the Devon countryside and were perfect for this garden. Around 125 tons of Cornish stone from Trebarwith Quarry was used and it took over 6000 man hours to complete. Water Artisans from Dorset were also invaluable as they advised on the construction of and then commissioned all the water features of the garden.

The official launch of the Cool Garden will take place during the first day of the Rosemoor Garden Flower Show (16-18 August) by Tim Upson, the RHS Director of Horticulture, who has been instrumental in getting the garden installed at Rosemoor. It will join the other permanent designer gardens such as the Model & Town Gardens, the Queen Mother’s and the Shrub Rose Gardens, the Winter Garden, the Cottage Garden, Potager and Foliage Garden all of which provide inspiration and ideas for visitors’ own gardens. During the show staff will be on hand in both Cool Garden and in the adjacent Hot Garden to talk through the designs and features with visitors.

Rosemoor’s Garden Flower Show is very different from the traditional RHS Chelsea and Hampton Court Flower Shows and is an altogether more relaxed experience. Instead of large floral marquees, the nurseries taking part each have a mini show garden and marquee spread through the stunning 65 acres of gardens. In addition to all the permanent designer gardens, there will be flower arranging demonstrations by top florist Jonathan Moseley, specialist talks from the nurseries and RHS staff and a floral display trail using some of the garden shelters and created by local floristry clubs with a theme of The Very Hungry Caterpillar (the RHS gardens summer holiday theme for families). Rosemoor also welcomes other local charities and organisations into the new ‘Community Village’. There will be plenty of delicious food and drink to tempt you as well as live music all three days.

Normal garden admission applies, which is free for RHS members. For more information on events visit rhs.org.uk/rosemoor.

BUTTERFLY POPULATIONS BOUNCE AS LOCAL PROJECT IS CELEBRATED IN NATIONAL AWARDS

A project working across Exmoor, Dartmoor and Bodmin Moor has been shortlisted for a national award following exceptional work to rescue butterfly populations in the South West.

All the Moor Butterflies from Butterfly Conservation is one of six projects to be shortlisted for the prestigious 2019 Park Protector Award and the very first Year of Green Action Award for National Park projects from the Government’s Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.

Jenny Plackett, South West Regional Manager at Butterfly Conservation, said: “Butterfly Conservation is absolutely delighted to be shortlisted for this Award for our work to improve the fortunes of our declining fritillary butterflies across Dartmoor, Exmoor and Bodmin Moor. We have been working alongside dedicated farmers and landowners to increase the quality and extent of suitable breeding habitat, and it would be wonderful if our partnership efforts were to be recognised with this Park Protector Award.”

The project fought off stiff competition to be within touching distance of the Awards, the results of which will be announced in a parliamentary reception this month. This year saw the most applicants apply in the competition’s history!

“The projects are each making an outstanding difference in some of the most famous countryside in the world; they are more vital than ever, when the natural world is under threat like never before and in the year of the National Parks’ 70th anniversary no less!”

“From introducing asylum seekers to the Yorkshire Dales to rescuing endangered butterflies, it’s testament to the power of the National Parks that they are inspiring people to make our countryside a better place for all,” said Corinne Pluchino chief executive of Campaign for National Parks.

Launching the competition, Lord Gardiner of Kimble, the Government minister for National Parks, said: “From my experience travelling the diverse and beautiful landscapes of the Parks I know that there is work to be done, whether that is work to enhance nature or introduce more people than ever to the glory of the countryside. But I also know that very challenge is being embraced by projects up and down the country.”

The six shortlisted projects are:

LOCATE – New Forest National Park

 

 

This project is mapping precious archaeological sites in the New Forest, training volunteers in the specialist skills this requires. This project has helped to map Neolithic long barrows, Iron Age hill forts and Roman pottery kiln sites!

 

People and the Dales– Yorkshire Dales National Park Enabling people from a truly diverse range of backgrounds, including asylum seekers, disabled and inner city youths, to have life changing experiences in the beautiful countryside – improving community relations and introducing thousands to the National Park.

 

SWEPT – Pembrokeshire Coast National Park This project is training citizen scientists to go out and collect vital pollution data in the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park. This data has led to clean-up events and has shone a light on the relationship between land and marine environments.

 

 

Skill builder – Peak District National Park Skill builder is engaging offenders on probation in conservation work across the Peak District, teaching them new skills, improving the offenders’ health and wellbeing and helping their rehabilitation. They boast that no participant has re-offended with the project.

 

Carlton Marshes – Broads National Park An ambitious restoration of 1000 acre landscape for wildlife alongside Lowestoft, one of the UK’s most socially deprived towns. Carlton Marshes is proving that people and wildlife alike can benefit from conservation and has been supported by the likes of Sir David Attenborough.

 

All the Moor Butterflies – Exmoor & Dartmoor National Parks. This project by Butterfly Conservation is rescuing butterfly populations from collapse in South-West England. Through working with farmers and other organisations the project aims to save six threatened species of butterfly and moth.

 

Stephen Ross, of the Ramblers Holiday’s Charitable Trust, which sponsor the Park Protector Award, said: “This year we’ve had an unprecedented number of high quality applicants, judging has been exceptionally tough and because of that I know what we have here are some of the very best projects run by the most passionate people. I wish there was a way to award every project. “

The winning projects will be announced at a parliamentary reception on 10 July 10. The winner of the Park Protector Award will receive a £2,000 grant towards their work, while the winner of the Year of Green Action Award will receive £1,500.

The annual Award is generously supported by Ramblers Holidays Charitable Trust.

Additionally, supported by Breedon Group.

PHOTO: A marsh fritillary, one of the species at the centre of conservation efforts. Photo credit: Tom Cox

EXMOOR DARK SKIES FESTIVAL – BIGGER AND BETTER

A family astro-party, night mountain-biking, nocturnal wildlife walks and stargazing with delicious food are all on the agenda for Exmoor National Park’s annual Dark Skies Festival. Now in its third year, the Festival is going from strength to strength, with this year’s programme extended over three weeks instead of two.

From 14 October to 3 November, Exmoor National Park Authority will be teaming up with local businesses and groups to put on an array of events in celebration of the region’s spectacular dark skies, now one of 13 International Dark Sky Reserves.

Katrina Munro from Exmoor National Park Authority said: “We’re delighted to have extended the festival to three weeks to ensure there are plenty of activities for all and that the half-term break is covered for both Devon and Somerset schools.

“We aim to introduce people near and far to Exmoor’s incredible starry skies and are very grateful for the support once again of our festival sponsors, rural broadband providers Airband UK. With the return of old favourites like our mobile planetarium and guided Orionid meteor walks, plus the introduction of our very first Dark Skies Big Adventure with the National Trust, there’ll be plenty to delight space enthusiasts of all ages.”

Exmoor National Park was designated as Dark Sky Reserve by the International Dark Sky Association in 2011. The National Park Authority continues to work with developers to help limit light pollution, providing unrivalled views of the celestial landscape while also preserving it for nocturnal wildlife.

Astronomer David Pearson, who volunteers for the National Park Authority as a Dark Skies Ambassador, said: “Even with the naked eye there’s so much people can see and all the family can enjoy spotting constellations and shooting stars. Through our research over the last few months, we have found some great secluded stargazing spots for keen astronomers, which are away from the glare of artificial lighting. In the darkest skies directly overhead we can see hundreds of objects, including the star clouds of our Milky Way, glowing clouds of dust and gas, satellites and spacecraft.”

Details of all the festival events can be found at exmoor-nationalpark.gov.uk/darkskiesfestival and a full printed programme will be available from National Park Centres in Lynmouth, Dunster and Dulverton from August.

Photo: Keith Trueman ©, Burrow Farm Engine House in Exmoor National Park. Built in 1860 to help mine the Brendon Hills iron field, it is the last remaining example of a ‘Cornish’ type engine house in Somerset. More info: www.exmoorher.co.uk/Monument/MSO8859

WARNING OVER ASH DIEBACK IN EXMOOR NATIONAL PARK

Around 800,000 trees in Exmoor National Park may be at risk from ash dieback, the National Park Authority has warned, as work to clear potentially hazardous infected trees from land it owns gets underway in Simonsbath this week.

The estimate comes from a Forestry Commission report produced on behalf of Exmoor National Park last summer*. It follows a University of Oxford study last month predicting a nationwide cost of £15 billion to the British economy linked to ash dieback**.

Ash is the second most common native tree species in Exmoor National Park after oak. It’s estimated that at least 95 per cent of ash trees in the UK will be killed by ash dieback over the next 20-30 years.

Graeme McVittie, Exmoor National Park Authority Senior Woodland Officer, said: “The trees being felled in Simonsbath next week are on Exmoor National Park Authority land and will be the first of many that will be sadly missing from the Exmoor landscape in years to come. We always conduct a thorough check for nesting birds and if possible delay any tree work to avoid disturbing them. But because this disease progresses so rapidly we have to act quickly before trees become too hazardous.

“Many of the diseased trees won’t need removing and may even provide temporary benefits to wildlife – for example populations of woodpeckers and stag beetles peaked following Dutch elm disease in the 1980s. Yet the longer-term loss in terms of public benefits such as clean air and water and carbon storage is likely to be significant.

“We are committed to the government’s national action plan on ash dieback, which focuses on building resilience and encouraging tolerant species of ash and are happy to provide expert advice to anyone with concerns. It is always the landowners’ responsibility to deal with any diseased trees that may present a risk to the public.”

Ash dieback disease is caused by the fungus Hymenoscyphus fraxineus. It causes leaf loss and crown dieback and once infected a tree will usually die, often as a result of the infection weakening the tree so it becomes more susceptible to attack by other pests and diseases.

There is no requirement to notify Exmoor National Park Authority about ash dieback but the Forestry Commission is collecting data about this and other tree diseases at www.forestry.gov.uk/treealert.

Exmoor National Park Authority has recently set up a new CareMoor Tree Fund for people wishing to donate towards replacing any cherished tree that has been lost from the landscape for any reason. Find out more at www.exmoor-nationalpark.gov.uk/caremoor.

* National Forest Inventory statistics for Exmoor National Park, Forest Research, July 2018, Online at: file://srvfs-app1/userdirs/astevens/VM_redirect/downloads/FR_NFI_Exmoor_Report_2018.pdf

** The £15 billion cost of ash dieback in Britain, Current Biology, Louise Hill et al, May 2019, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cub.2019.03.033

About ash dieback: www.exmoor-nationalpark.gov.uk/Whats-Special/woodland/working/Info-for-woodland-owners/ash-dieback-disease

YOUNG PEOPLE GET HELP WITH HOUSING ON EXMOOR AND MEETING ON 11 JULY – BOOK NOW

A tour of six self-build properties took place on Exmoor in June, to help young people interested in building their own home in the National Park.

The event was organised by Exmoor National Park Authority, the local planning authority, and the charity Exmoor Young Voices and involved visiting a variety of properties in Wheddon Cross, Cutcombe, Hoe Farm and Exton.

The young people, who all live and work on Exmoor, were shown the variety of ways a self-build home can be achieved through different methods of construction and design.

 “We would like to thank the homeowners who gave up their time to talk to the Young Voices and answer their questions on the whole process of self-build,” said William Lock, Chair of Exmoor Young Voices.

The group also received advice from Dean Kinsella, Exmoor National Park Authority Head of Planning and Sustainable Development, and Tessa Saunders, Senior Planning Officer, about planning and potential opportunities for self-build within Exmoor communities.

Mr Kinsella said: “With the generally higher cost of housing in National Parks, it can be difficult for people to find homes that are both affordable and close to work and family. Our Local Plan aims to help local people get on the housing ladder by enabling self-build homes where suitable homes aren’t available on the open market.

“Through our work with Exmoor Young Voices we aim to guide young people through the planning process to help them decide early on whether a self-build is a realistic opportunity to provide them with the home they need.”

Since the introduction of specialist affordable housing policies in 2005, over 200 local people have benefited from new locally tied affordable homes built in the National Park. Some have been self-build, some delivered by private developers or landlords and others by housing associations.

Earlier this year, National Parks England called on the Government to increase the total stock of affordable housing for families and young people in National Parks through additional financial support, restrictions on holiday and second homes and greater support to empower communities.

Samantha Harris, Exmoor Young Voices Coordinator, said: “Our next meeting when we will explore sites, finance and planning further is going to be at The Rest and Be Thankful, Wheddon Cross, on 11 July at 7.30pm. To book a place email me at eyv.coordinator@hotmail.com, find us on Facebook or just turn up.”

PHOTO: Members of Exmoor Young Voices tour a timber-framed straw-bale self-build built under ENPA’s affordable housing policy and featured in the current issue of Exmoor Magazine.

FOUR NORTH DEVON PROJECTS TO BENEFIT FROM FUNDING BOOST

Over £30,000 has been released for projects which will benefit residents across North Devon.

At a meeting of the North Devon Council Strategy and Resources Committee on 1 July councillors agreed to allocate S106* funding towards four projects which will improve facilities in the district.

  • £20,450 towards improvements to Tomlin Hall in Bickington (pictured)
  • £1,775 towards a shelter at Marlborough Road Cemetery in Ilfracombe
  • £5,000 towards Oakford Villas play area in North Molton
  • £3,520 towards improvements at Victory Hall in North Molton

A survey by Fremington Parish Council identified the facilities in Tomlin Hall as being in need of modernisation.  Funds will be used to improve the kitchen area and provide new plumbing and heating.

Funds in Ilfracombe will provide a shelter at Marlborough Road Cemetery to give visitors a place to shelter from the weather.

North Molton will benefit from improvements to the play facilities at Oakford Villas play area and essential health and safety work to upgrade the electrical system in Victory Hall.

Leader of North Devon Council, Councillor David Worden, says, “I am very pleased that these projects will receive the funding which is vital to help provide much needed facilities across the district. These open space funds, made as part of major planning applications, allow the council to give back to the community in a meaningful way.”

Local ward member for Bickington, Councillor Joy Cann, says, “As Bickington Councillors Helen, Will and I are all delighted to see Tomlin Hall receiving the funding it deserves and desperately needs for improvements.  Bickington is already a great place to to live and improving Tomlin Hall and providing a better community meeting space will enhance the village further.”

Local ward member for Ilfracombe West, Councillor Geoff Fowler, says, “Marlborough Road Cemetery is exposed at the best of times so to be able to get some respite from the elements for folk has to make sensitive visits more bearable.”

Local ward member for Ilfracombe West, Councillor Netti Pearson, says, “I am sure that visitors to the cemetery will be grateful for a place where they can sit in contemplation and shelter from adverse weather. There are too few shelters in Ilfracombe’s open spaces and I would like to see more installed in town in the future.

*Section 106 (S106) is money paid to the council by developers as part of the planning conditions of planning applications. The money can only be used for certain things, but is used primarily for public open space projects.

Photo courtesy of Tony Gussin.