After a very mixed week of stormy skies, frosts, snow, hail, blue skies and warm sun, it was hard to know what to expect when thirteen of us gathered at Kirkstead Old Mill Cottage, near Woodhall Spa, but we were lucky and it was fine all day.
With Covid and lockdowns, it is a while since we have been able to visit this lovely, peaceful home beside the Witham. Barbara, the owner, welcomed us back with a cup of tea and then we got to work on a nice variety of tasks that kept us busy all day.
A preformed pond in the garden had started to tilt to one side, so the water was seeping out. Before remedial work can be done the pond shell had to be removed, so our task was to empty it, lift it out and move it to temporary storage elsewhere in the garden, first clearing a pile of dead brash from the storage site. Many hands made light work of this job, though the strong smell of the rotting sludge in the bottom of the pond was quite overpowering for those wielding the buckets.
While that job was in progress, the rest of our group headed along the riverside track that runs up to the bridge on the road into Woodhall Spa (which is also near where the Water Rail Way Sustrans route runs). Although the track is not in the cottage grounds, Barbara helps to keep it mown so that walkers can enjoy it. Brambles and shrubs were growing into a narrow section of the path, some at eye height, making it difficult to get the mower along it safely. We cut back the growth for at least half a mile, to open up the track. Anyone helping with this task will certainly have done their 10,000 steps, as they had to walk half a mile to and from the work site too.
Their job done, the ‘pond team’ split up, some joining the track clearers and the others moving on to the next job on the list – cutting back brambles that were growing over the bank beside the brook that runs beside the house. Care was needed as the bank is steep but the brambles were successfully cleared, and some overgrown lavender bushes were uncovered too.
Our final task was to cut back some red-stemmed dogwoods (cornus) in the wild garden. Doing this will generate colourful new growth, which will glow in the sun.
We ended the successful day with cups of tea and generous slices of cake, kindly provided by Barbara.