Ickworth House – 12th August 2018

Today we returned to the Italianate Garden at Ickworth to continue removing the box roots and to dig out a trench alongside the retaining wall. We had a great turnout of volunteers, including one newbie and two who we haven’t seen in awhile.

Well done all – another very successful task where everyone worked hard!

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Ickworth House – 29th July 2018

Weather conditions for this task were very different compared to the previous few weeks! In fact, I think the wind and rain was preferable given the hard work that was needed!

Our task was to remove the box hedge from around the edge of the Rotunda of Ickworth House. Small sections of hedge in the garden has been infected with Box Blight, so the decision has been taken to remove it all and replace it with Yew.

We had to cut the bulk of the hedge off, and then dig out the roots. Fortunately the ground wasn’t very hard, but many of the roots still put a good fight! One half of the hedge has been completely removed, but the roots on the other half were still in the ground at the end of the day.

Thank you and well done to all who braved the weather and got so much achieved! Hopefully your aches and pains have just about subsided now…

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Ickworth – 15th July 2018

Working inside a greenhouse on a day with temperatures approaching 30 degs C didn’t sound very appealing, but fortunately the greenhouses that Ickworth needed clearing on this task no longer had glass in the roofs! It was still a hot task, but everyone got stuck in clearing the brambles and weeds that had grown inside the disused greenhouse. A skip was filled with glass and wood and rubble that came out of both greenhouses, though we decided to leave the wasp nest in situ, just in case it was still inhabited! Any brick, stone, ceramic, and metalwork was kept in case it was part of the history.

After a hard day of work, both greenhouses were fully cleared, plus as a bonus the border of one of the dahlia beds was edged.

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Orford Ness – 1st July 2018

We returned to the Ness to tackle the Red Valerian, something we worked hard on last year. It was clear that last year’s efforts had been effective – the areas dug up had not really grown back. Fortunately this year a new approach was used, which meant no back-breaking work digging up the roots! Instead we could just chop the heads/flowers off, with the aim of preventing them from spreading and seeding.

Thank you to all who came out on this lovely day!

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17th June 2018 – Ickworth

We returned this week to Ickworth’s walled garden to continue working on the dahlia beds. A month ago we lifted the winter covers off the dahlias and weeded the whole length (unfortunately we have no photos from this task!). In the meantime the dahlias have begun to regrow, and we were put to work constructing frames to support them. A bit of weeding was also required, and the border edge was cut out along one of the beds. Finally we gave most of them a “feed” with a pile of mulch.

Well done everyone, and thank you to Ickworth for once again providing refreshments at the end of the day.

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3rd June 2018 – Sutton Hoo

Great to be back at Sutton Hoo, thanks to new ranger Jonathan! We had the task of replacing steps along one of the footpaths. We started by removing the old steps (including the 5ft deep fence posts!), while others got to work cutting new stakes to hold the new boards in place. A lot of digging and moving of earth was required to get the new steps in, and by the end of the day two new flights of steps were in place ready for walkers to make use of.

Well done everyone for all the hard work done in quite warm conditions!

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6th May 2018 – Melford Hall

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22nd April 2018 – Ickworth Park

After an enforced break from tasks, we were keen and happy to be back with loppers and bow saws in hands at Ickworth. This week the never-ending job of chopping back the laurels in the Albana walk awaited us. We just about managed to avoid getting sunburnt, and were able to relax at the end of the day with a very much appreciated cold drink and ice cream courtesy of the property.

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11th March 2018 – Lower Barn Farm

On this task we returned to Lower Barn Farm to continue the hedge-laying and the cutting back of the growth along the fence line. We got a bit damp during the day, but got a lot cut down and burnt. The team laying the hedge at the west end of the field did a great job in getting their job finished.

Well done all who came along to this task!

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25th February 2018 – Melford Hall

First visit of 2018 to Melford Hall saw us helping the property with some smaller jobs that needed doing as part of helping getting ready for opening in about a month’s time. This included preparing the areas that we dug out the pampas grass from ready for grass seeding, moving piles of rubble and soil (including sifting the soil to get the stones out!), willow-weaving in Lord Somerset’s garden, path weeding, bramble cutting, and ivy removal from the front wall.

It was a sunny day, but a cold wind is what you can’t see in the photos! Well done everyone who came out today.

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11th February 2018 – Lower Barn Farm

On this task we returned to Lower Barn Farm for the first time in awhile. We worked on the hedge around the edge of one of the fields. One group worked to start the laying of a hedge along one section. It needed a good trim first, which took up most of the day, but they were able to make a start.

The rest of the volunteers worked to cut the blackthorn and other growth back away from the fence line. This would allow contractors access to replace the fence, and also make it easy for the overall height of the current trees and blackthorn to be lowered, allowing the hedge to regrow thicker lower down.

It was another great turn-out, in what turned out to be quite mixed weather (blue skies and sun to start, ending with hailstones!). Thank you to all who worked hard once again.

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28th January 2018 – Pin Mill

Second task in a row where we did some coppicing – we’re getting good at it! This time it was at Pin Mill, where we started to thin out a new compartment. This reduction of the trees will allow more light in and hopefully allow growth of other plants at ground level. The wood that is cut down will be processed and sold for firewood which will help raise funds for the Trust.

A huge amount was done today – everyone worked hard, so well done all!

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14th January 2018 – Ickworth

Our first task of the year was coppicing at Ickworth, working in Geraldine’s Walk, not far from the main house. We working to chop down the hazel into lengths suitable for use as supports in the walled garden.

It was a good turnout, and everyone worked hard, keen to get back to the graft of a task! Thanks to everyone who came, and thanks to Ickworth for the hot drinks and cakes at the end of the day!

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3rd December 2017 – Moorats

A visit to Moorats Park in Dedham for this task saw us working to repair a section of fence, including the addition of a couple of new strainer posts. We also cut back the hedge-line along another section of fencing to stop the fence being swallowed up, and to allow access for some of the large trees to be felled without them falling in the road!

Fortunately the sheep weren’t too interested in what we were doing!

Once again we had great numbers in attendance for this task, so well done to everyone who came and worked hard today!

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17th December 2017 – Dedham Hall Farm

A very cold, frosty start to our last task of 2017. We worked at the far end of Dedham Hall Farm (almost in Lower Barn Farm), cutting back some blackthorn and finishing off the laying of a hedge that had been started by another group.

We also had our annual Christmas ‘sausage sizzle’ (a BBQ), which was very much enjoyed by all.

Thank you to all who came along, and a special thank you to Adam for organising the food!

We look forward to more great tasks in 2018!

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19th November 2017 – Melford Hall

A great turnout of volunteers on a lovely sunny day meant we were able to really attack the exterior hedge, the moat, and the pampas grass growing up along the main drive.

Well done everyone for all your hard work today!

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5th November – Bourne Mill

Second visit of the year to Bourne Mill in Colchester to do a site tidy. Most parts of the grounds got a trim ready for winter.

Well done and thank you to everyone who came out today!

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22nd October 2017 – Ickworth

A day of laurel-lopping! The saying that many hands make light work was never truer than today, as a hard-working bunch of volunteers cut down a large amount of laurel, some of which had been left to grow for a number of years. The piles at the end were impressive! Well done and thank you to everyone to came on this task.

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8th October 2017 – Pin Mill

This week it felt great to get back to a classic slash and burn task! We were on the heathland at Pin Mill to cut back the gorse and brambles to try to open up the ground to allow the heather to grow back.

Well done to everyone who came along and worked hard to get a lot cut down and burnt today.

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24th September 2017 – Orford Ness

A change to the original programme saw a number of us convene on Orford Ness for our second task of the year here. We had two main jobs this time: to restore order to a partially collapsed stack of haybales, and to rake up stray hay from the field. Lewis & Miles also repaired a broken barrier.

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10th September 2017 – Flatford Mill

That time of year again! This task was the annual clearance of the mill pond at Flatford. This maintenance is required to prevent the pond from being overgrown with reeds and other vegetation. It’s a messy job but someone has to do it! It was a good turnout, and fortunately the weather was just about on our side. A lot got done, and it certainly created an extra element of interest for the visitors to the area on Sunday!

Well done to everyone who came along and worked hard. I hope you have by now managed to get silt out of everything!

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27th August 2017 – Ickworth Park

Third task in a row at Ickworth, but this time we were working in the walled garden, weeding/clearing a couple of beds that ran alongside the lake. This preparation will allow the Ickworth team to plant more fruit trees. In addition to this a number of us worked to edge and weed some of the other beds.

Another good day’s work by a great team! Well done everyone!

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13th August 2017 – Ickworth Park

Another session cutting back the hedge along the Albana Walk, and this week we finished it! Well, the field side of the path anyway…

Well done to everyone who worked on this. We had a number of comments from members of the public about how nice it looked and what a good job we were doing.

In addition, we have had two birthdays since the last task, so Phil and Arlo were presented with cards, and Arlo also got a present from the group.

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30th July 2017 – Ickworth Park

More hedge-trimming along the Albana Walk this week at Ickworth House. We’re making good progress! Well done to everyone who came along and got stuck in!

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16th July 2017 – Chairman’s BBQ

Adam kindly hosted a BBQ at his house after the task at Orford Ness, and it was very much enjoyed by everyone who attended. We were also fortunate enough that Jess decided to celebrate her birthday with us!

Thanks Adam for organising and hosting this, and thank you also to everyone who contributed with food!

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16th July 2017 – Orford Ness

This week’s task was a rare visit to Orford Ness to tackle some Red Valerian that was unwanted.

This Red Valerian is a garden escapee – possibly originating from the garden of the Lighthouse Keeper and family – and is slowly spreading across the shingle, disrupting the native plant communities that are one of the most rare and important features of Orford Ness. It is an attractive plant and a valuable source of nectar for bees, butterflies and moths, but is eliminating other, even more significant plants.

Since Red Valerian spreads partly by underground runners, one of the most effective methods of controlling it is to pull the entire plants up. However, this meant that it was quite hard work! So well done everyone for the work done today. If you look closely, you can see the difference in the before and after photos – would be better with a drone though!

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2nd July 2017 – Ickworth Park

We returned to to the hedge on the Albana Walk that we de-brambled approx 6 months ago. It needed a haircut, so we set about it with scissors. We then realised this would take quite a long time, so we decided instead to use some hedge trimmers. While most of us worked on trimming the hedge, a couple of others worked in the ditch behind the hedge to try to remove some more brambles and other unwanted vegetation. We didn’t quite reach the end of the hedge, but very nearly! Well done all!

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18th June 2017 – Bridges Farm

On a very hot day, we gave the barns at Bridges Farm a coat of paint to help protect them from the elements. Fortunately no-one got too much paint on themselves! Thanks everyone who worked hard despite the 30 degree heat!

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4th June 2017 – Social visit to Anglesey Abbey

It was nice to spend a day as a group without actually having work to do! A great turnout for a great day with some great people. Thanks Harriet for organising it!

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21st May 2017 – Ickworth Park

Two quite different tasks awaited us at Ickworth this week. One group got stuck into chopping some laurels down to size, while the others had a tough job of removing turf and digging the dry, solid soil below. The latter task was necessary as the ground is so solid that water is unable to penetrate and grass fails to grow. Therefore it needed a little aeration courtesy of SNTV!

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7th May 2017 – Melford Hall

A great task for the gardeners this time!!

SNTV were welcomed back to Melford Hall, to help prepare for Long Melford’s Open Gardens. Due to the low rainfall level, Rob and his team have spent lots of their time watering rather than weeding, so the flower beds needed some work to get them looking their best. We worked around the property, taking out weeds and overgrowth, and breaking up the hard ground to improve the appearance, and fertility of the gardens.

A few of us also worked on the pond, removing the weed and improving its appearance as well. We also worked along the iris border, and went around the gardens with two hoses all day to boot. We gave the grounds a great blitz, which will really help show the property off to its best over the coming weeks.

It was great to see so many visitors enjoying the property and our efforts, particularly as the sun came out in the afternoon. We generated a lot of interest and appreciation for the group too.

Thanks everyone for your hard work, and for representing our group at its best !!

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23rd April 2017 – Dedham Hall Farm

Another busy, well attended, task in the Dedham Vale. We cleared and burnt some scrub already cut down, replaced a stretch of fencing, and cleared the fence line along another stretch of field, ready for a new fence at some point in the future. A lot was completed today, so well done to everyone who worked hard to get it done.

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9th April 2017 – Ickworth Park

We spent a gloriously sunny April day planting snowdrops and daffodils, the former in the Walnut Grove, the latter on the lawn in front of the West Wing. Our day coincided with a Battle of Waterloo re-enactment, the rifles and cannons of which could be heard across the Park. Thank you to everyone who came and worked hard in the sunshine 🙂

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26th March 2017 – Melford Hall

Not many photos from me this week as I got there mid-way through the task. However, plenty was still accomplished by all in advance of the property opening on Wednesday.

Bonfires were utilised in the moat to dispose of all the cuttings from the task 4 weeks ago, plus more that had been created since and a final push to get the bulk of the brambles shredded. It looks so much better than it did before our previous task (for comparison, I’ve added the “before” photo of what it looked like before we started).

A section of the car park was raked over, removing all the large stones, and was seeded to hopefully re-establish grass; most of the gravel path was given a good weeding; and some other sections of the garden were also weeded.

Thank you to all who worked hard once again!

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26th March 2017 – Melford Hall

Not many photos from me this week as I got there mid-way through the task. However, plenty was still accomplished by all in advance of the property opening on Wednesday.

Bonfires were utilised in the moat to dispose of all the cuttings from the task 4 weeks ago, plus more that had been created since and a final push to get the bulk of the brambles shredded. It looks so much better than it did before our previous task (for comparison, I’ve added the “before” photo of what it looked like before we started).

A section of the car park was raked over, removing all the large stones, and was seeded to hopefully re-establish grass; most of the gravel path was given a good weeding; and some other sections of the garden were also weeded.

Thank you to all who worked hard once again!

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12th March 2017 – Dedham

A great turnout today meant that we were able to complete a job that had previously been started by the local rangers. It involved ‘topping’ the hedge line to open up the field. Once again we had a large bonfire; probably the last of the season.

We were honoured that Frances decided to spend her birthday working with us, and we were treated to a delicious cake provided by Lewis.

Well done everyone and thank you for your hard work!

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26th February 2017 – Melford Hall

Our first visit to Melford Hall this year. Two main tasks today: move snowdrops off the path in Lord Somerset’s area of the garden, and clear the moat. As usual, everyone worked hard to make a difference at the property in advance of the opening at the end of March. Thank you!

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12th February 2017 – Bourne Mill

This was our first trip to Bourne Mill in Colchester in over 4 years, and we were tasked with giving the site a tidy – cutting back the growth of trees and plants around the edge of the mill pond, and giving the garden of the attached property a good trim! Well done to everyone who came for their hard work today.