When Peter and Gill first came, this was a patch of small sycamore trees with grass. Prior to 1805 this is probably the site of the church in Saline, demolished to build a larger version in the centre of the village. We have found no evidence in our digging; probably the need to recycle the stone meant the local farmer benefited.
Over the wall in the old graveyard members of Jacks family, who lived at Kirklands from 1860’s to 1920’s are buried. Unfortunately, six of the children died in infancy, others, who reached adulthood, left to live in Canada and South Africa and one, Florence, was buried in the 1960s long after the new cemetery had taken over.
Beneath the sycamore trees snowdrops, hellebores, wood anenomes in several colours (white, white double, blue, primrose, yellow), snakehead fritillaries, erythroniums, bluebells and trilliums thrive. Later the self-seeded Turks cap lilies (lily martagon) put on their show.
Peter loves ferns. He started with one or two then he got the bug! Ferns names are almost impossible. So don’t ask him to name them all! There’s a collection of 80 different ferns. There’s Blechnum Chilense from Chile, which is quite rampant here. We bought it at Logan Botanic Gardens; the really tiny Blechnum Penna-Marine, a small spreading fern that Gill’s not so sure if she likes it because it spreads too quickly for her liking.
Proceed down the avenue towards the stream past ‘compost city’ where we have 8 huge compost bays and 3 leaf mould bays. Compost is Peter’s specialist subject! Gill thinks he’s rather obsessional about his compost, but he thinks it’s just a healthy interest and part of the recycling. We have a friend, a tree surgeon, that provides us with shreddings to mix with grass and all the other garden material. Nothing gets wasted, everything gets turned back into wonderful compost.
Prince Charles’ gardener said that they turn out their compost bays three times to get things to compost properly. We don’t have the same machinery or the same staff level, but we like to turn it out once or twice to make the fantastic compost! We’ve recently invested in a compost rotary sieve – perfect for potting up, though it takes some muscle power!
The leaves are kept separately. We have a pile from last year’s leaves and a pile from the year before. We use it to mix with compost to pot up Meconopsis and other beauties. It’s wonderful black gold to put goodness back into the garden.