Happy New Year! Whilst everything here at the nursery is a little slower in January, we thought we’d take the opportunity to write a quick update on everything we are working on here at Lime Cross and a recap on what's happened in 2022.
Last year saw some big milestones completed; firstly, we started in 2021 moving conifers into the retail area, disposing of dead plants, moving slabs, stakes, cars, and irrigation from the fields so they were ready for us to then start the ground preparations for the fields to be turned into our Vineyard.
This started at the end of 2021 and carried on into 2022 and involved pulling up mypex, tonnes of shingle and low-lying water collection pipes from the one-hectare space, plus removing multiple old Leyland hedges.
This as you might imagine was quite a task! The team worked tirelessly, moving shingle and land drains, using the digger and dumper. Finally, after months of preparation the ground was clear.
Next, we had to follow a regime of sub soiling, ploughing and harrowing and making additions of compost and lime, followed by more harrowing. The was carried out by Agrifactor, who did an outstanding job.
By the time this had all been done, the soil became wonderfully aerobic and perfect for planting vines. It was possible to see the belt of sandstone that runs through the site.
The vines were planted in early May by Sam Barnes and his team, who have a laser positioned, specialist machine, towed by a tractor, but hand loaded with vines. The result is perfectly positioned rows of vines, spaced 1 m apart and 2.2 m row spacing, planted at the optimal depth.
The vines are bought from a registered French nursery in the Mont Ventoux region and had to be stored in a cold room before being planted. We have planted Pinot Meunier, Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, and Pinot Gris. All champagne varieties that grow well in the UK, with specially selected root stocks and clones to match our site. Later in the season a team came in and popped the trellis up and the vineyard is now complete. The vines had a great season, if a little dry during the summer! But as the soil was good in structure and nutrients, they have survived.
Sam and his team planting the vineyard
We are almost ready to launch our new vineyard website, which is full of photos and information.
Wellbeing in the Wild
Sue Relf, one of our former café managers and dear friend, provided delicious food for all the retreats, wholesome salads with homemade fruit Ice lollies and a selection of incredible cakes in the afternoon. We were fully booked all season and enjoyed glorious weather for nearly all the retreat days. It’s always a pleasure to host these events and meet everyone.
The day begins with a Yoga/Pilates class, a swim in the lake, a relaxing soak in the hot tub followed by lunch, then a stroll through our ancient woodland and vineyard, followed by cake and bubbles in the afternoon, a perfect end to the day. We finished the season in September just before the weather really turned.
We are excited to say a new schedule of retreat days for 2023 are available on our website with our new purchasing platform which allows you to fill out your health questionnaire online when you purchase. Do keep checking the website for more dates, we will be adding continuously into January, a great antidote to Christmas and New Year celebrations.
Great Dixter Autumn Fair, another successful plant fair at the wonderful Great Dixter, and wow we felt it was the busiest one yet! Set in one of the fields behind the house with an array of different plant stall holders , it’s a plant enthusiasts dream and is akin to a sweet shop with delights around every corner.
We set up on Friday and caught up with some other exhibitors whom we haven’t seen for a long time, it is always great to talk about how the season has gone and just generally have a chit chat.
The fair was over the whole weekend and the weather was perfect, starting early Saturday with the keen beans it was brilliant to see familiar faces and new alike. We brought with us a selection of beautiful conifers for our stand and it was exciting to see the public become curious and inspired by the conifers we had on show. Pinus koraiensis 'Dragon's Eye’ and Larix decidua ‘Krejci’ received a lot of attention and many other varieties created a lot of interest too.
On Sunday stall holders had the opportunity to give an informal talk about their plants, we decided to do ours on one conifer variety - Cryptomerias. It was great to have such an interactive audience who asked lots of questions, this was great for me as I love to share the many interesting stories regarding conifers and the family history of growing them at Lime Cross Nursery.
After a busy weekend we decided to pick up the conifers we had left, which wasn’t a lot on Monday giving me the opportunity to also have a quick walk around the garden with Fergus and to see how our conifers have been displayed throughout the garden. The exotic garden at Dixter is full of conifers from our nursery along with others that have been used for pot displays in the garden and on the main entrance door to the house. Cedars feature heavily in the exotic garden along with Larch, Pseudotsuga and Cryptomeria. Dixter is the perfect place to visit for conifer inspiration!
We love the ever-changing garden of Dixter and of course the amazing garden team too. It is always a pleasure to be invited and I always come back to the nursery invigorated and enthusiastic about plants and gardens.
2022 has seen lots of work going on in the background and we are currently updating our online shopping, adding more photos, descriptions and writing blogs to give you as much information as possible. The nursery is still open by appointment only and we are very happy to help wherever we can. Back in 2021 we decided for the time being to just focus on growing and selling our conifers again, but we are always looking at how we can refine what we are doing and hoping in the future we will be able to expand a little again and offer other selected plants and gardening ware.
Conifer Grafting 2023
We are now in grafting season for the conifers here at the nursery. The Prop house is ready with under stocks being brought in. The arduous task of what to graft is next. Up until recently I have not been the sole person in charge of grafting. So the last two years have been a learning curve and I’ve realised that preparation is key. Naturally, I am not a person to sit down for a long period, I fidget and get uncomfortable and lack in concentration. I need no chance of distraction!
Dad was the main grafter up until 2013/14, then Dave took over both highly skilled and with an empathy for plants. Up until quite recently I looked upon their knowledge with this kind of god-like status ‘they just know’. But I’ve now realised that along with their knowledge there would have been a lot of trial and error as well as practice and preparation which is reassuring for me to finally realise. I am confident we will progress well too.
The Animal Friends
We are so lucky to have some new furry members of the family join us this year.
Po the pony, joined us in August. He's only 8.2 hh, but he's got a massive personality and everyone adores him, especially Juniper!
We also have three new Herdwick sheep, they are beautiful and so soft! The baby girl loves to be cuddled and wags her tail when she sees us.
The Shop Space
Since November 2021 Ivy House Dementia Day Care Centre has been making use of our wonderful shop and café space offering day care for clients and support for their families. Initially Ivy House were only going to be in the building until the end of 2022, however we have re-signed to November.
We still have plans afoot for the shop however with lots of ideas so when the time is right we would like to re-incorporate the main building back into the core of the business.
We wish everyone a happy and healthy new year and will continue to keep you updated on our progress with everything here at Lime Cross Nursery. In the meantime, if you have any question just drop us an email at email@example.com
Di, Helen and Vicky x x