Photo: © Graham Cartland Glover
The project aims to keep all the railway's gardens and 'green bits' in a presentable order . There is close collaboration with this group and the Society's 'Adopt a Station' initiative.
Joint Landscape Group
Working Party Reports:
Autumn Blitz 2014
Due to an email glitch, user generated, the JLG Autumn Blitz First Call Email was not despatched so it was therefore decided to defer the working party for a month. As accommodation had been booked for the original 10 days around the original October dates Margaret and Graham still attanded and were joined by those who were available. As a result the working party was phased over two stages. This report is therefore written station by station but with stages 1 and 2 set out in sequence for each station.
In Stage 1, Friday October 10 was a bright sunny day with a couple of short sharp showers either side of lunch. We were joined by Howard Stuckey and his wife Angela. She gave the station shelters a deep clean in the morning and after lunch joined Margaret who was clearing out dead vegetation.
Because we were low on numbers we concentrated our efforts on the Footbridge Bed and the Water Tower Bed, which are the most visible from the trains. Howard and I continued to clear the old ballast out of the platform cesses in the Water Tower Bed and replaced it with clean ballast. After lunch we repeated the process in the Footbridge Bed and we have only a short section left to do at the next Spring Makeover. Margaret and Angela concentrated on dead heading and cutting down all the herbaceous perennials up to at least a metre back from the rear edge of the cesses. Each bed was also weeded, de-grassed and generally tidied up. We finished off by removing all the rubbish to the eco piles and swept up any soil and grit left on the platform. The other two beds were left until Stage 2.
The second stage visit to Waunfawr was on Friday November 14. Torrential rain started at about 09.30hrs. and it continued until about 11.15hrs. While I was transferring tools to the platform, Martin Kressman arrived. With only 3 to 4 hours of working time left we decided to concentrate our efforts on the Twin Shelters Bed. The smaller North Bed, which did not require much attention, was left until the 2015 Spring Makeover. We spent an hour in bright sunshine lopping back the larger shrubs and winter pruning them to remove crossed and overhanging branches. After lunch we concentrated on de-grassing, weeding and cutting back the herbaceous perennials for up to a metre behind the edge of the cesses. We managed to deal with about 75% of this border before it was time to remove the rubbish and sweep up the platform in the failing light. By the time I had loaded my car it was dusk. We left Waunfawr at 16.30hrs.
Saturday October 11 was a bright sunny day for our Stage 1 visit. Margaret and I started work shortly after 10.00 hrs. and Keith Holland and a family friend Eileen Salmon, who is a keen gardener, joined us shortly after. Margaret and Eileen worked on clearing out weeds, grass and leaves from the Twin Bridges Border and the Herb Border respectively while Val Holland supervised from a distance. Keith and I set about removing three large straggly and rather tired shrubs that were planted in the autumn of 1997 at the first WHR Gardening Group meeting. The Buddleia was then cut up and stored until it could be collected for the wood burner. As many roots as possible were dug out in preparation for new planting at the Spring Makeover next March.
After lunch Keith and Eileen finished off what they had been doing and left with Val at about 14.30hrs. We stayed on and pruned some shrubs and cut back the Acanthus plants, Irises and Day Lilies in the Bungalow Border before clearing the site at 16.00 hrs.
Sunday October 12 started as another sunny day with a cold wind but clouded over towards the end of the afternoon. In the morning Margaret weeded and de-grassed the Bank Border. At the same time, I continued digging out the Ivy and as many of the roots of the shrubs as I could find in the Bungalow Border before planting two small Cordyline Australis palms in front of the cleared area. Margaret cut back two large wispy shrubs adjacent to the trees along the Water Authority boundary to let more light into the back of that border. Finally I spot sprayed deep rooted weeds and some of the Acanthus and the unwanted areas of Japanese Anemones in the Trackside Border while Margaret swept up all the autumn leaves in the turning area near the North Yard entrance. We left the site at 16.00hrs.
Friday October 17 the last day of Stage 1 of the JLG was another bright cold day we arrived before 10.00hrs and set ourselves up in the Trackside Bed with a barrow full of compost, soil and grit, and three baker’s trays of plants. We weeded, de-grassed, cut back plants and prepared the ground for one area of mass planting and one area of infill planting. I dug out more roots from the dead Japanese Anemones and dug four trenches at a diagonal to the track and placed the compost mixture in the bottom of the trenches. While Margaret infill planted more Cranesbill Geraniums along the track edge to thicken up the area planted at the spring. The four trenches were planted up with White Valerians, Michelmas Daisies, Iris Foetidissimas and White Phlox leaving space for doubling up this planting and also adding more rows of other plants. After lunch we removed the rubbish, watered the new planting, loaded the car and moved to Rhyd Ddu to complete our planting programme there.
In Stage 2 of the Autumn Blitz, Saturday November 15 at Dinas was a beautifully sunny autumn day with a chill in the air. Just after 10.00hrs I started in the Bungalow Border by cutting back plants that were dying back for the winter and tidying up the back of the border by the fence. Bernard Price joined me before long and started by raking the dead leaves out of the Twin Bridges Border and I then joined him to dead head and cut back the herbaceous material that had gone over and to lightly prune shrubs where appropriate. Then I prepared a large hole for a variegated golden Euonymus shrub that Bernard was preparing for lifting. The cleared space in the Bungalow Border will make room for the additional planting of the Sub tropical shrubs that we will be put in the border next spring. I added the compost mixture to the hole, backfilled the soil and fed the repositioned shrub with liquid fertilizer, while Bernard swept up all the wet leaves lying in the turning head. After lunch we cleared all the rubbish to the eco piles both of which are now full to the brim and Bernard spread the leaf mulch in the Bungalow Border.
We then moved to the Trackside Border for the rest of the afternoon. While I cut back herbaceous plants and de-grassed and weeded the middle parts of the border that were not dealt with in October, Bernard lopped and pruned the Gorse next to the cyclepath boundary that was overhanging the end of the platform. Finally an area near the platform end infested with couch grass was completely cleared and turned over. Some Aquilegias were transferred to pots for reuse elsewhere.
On Sunday November 16, I spent the morning planting more Montbretias, Sedums and Helleborus’ in the Bungalow Border and raked over all of the areas disturbed on Saturday.
Before lunch I returned to the Trackside Border and re-sprayed the remaining Japanese Anemones and I prepared another diagonal trench for planting replacements. After lunch I cleared the rubbish and left for Rhyd Ddu.
Monday November 17 was to be a planting day, starting at Rhyd Ddu before moving on to Dinas. However the weather dictated otherwise as there was heavy drizzle at Rhyd Ddu. I started work at Dinas in bright sunshine at about 10.30 hrs. I spent the morning in the Trackside bed, placing under the hedge the Aquilegias that I had lifted from the couch grass on Saturday. I then completed the couch grass clearance over a wider area. I rationalised the position of the remaining Japanese Anemones to form another diagonal row and then dug up more dead remnants of the Anemones in that area of the border. I thickened some of the other diagonal rows with additional White Phlox and Valerians. Finally I scoured the middle of the border for any signs of the Anemones and spot sprayed anything that I found before taking a late lunch. After lunch I watered the new plantings, cleared up any rubbish and left site to return to Rhyd Ddu.
Stage 1 started dull and breezy on Monday October 13. The forecast was for rain at lunch time so Margaret and I got started at 10.00 hrs on weeding and de-grassing the Mid-Platform Bed. At about 10.45hrs it was apparent that the ridge above Cwm Pennant had disappeared in a grey out and that rain was rapidly approaching Llyn y Gader. This was not what had been forecast, no surprise there then, so we abandoned the raised Alpine Garden, grabbed all our tools and the ground sheet and made a swift retreat to the Station Shelter. After a coffee break we realised that the rain had set in for the morning and decided to clean out the shelter which was rather dusty with a substantial build up of swallow and spider excretia.
At 14.45 it was still raining, so we returned to Penrhyn early.
On Tuesday October 14, our rest day, the weather improved and after lunch we returned to Rhyd Ddu to complete Mondays work programme. We continued to tidy up all the platform beds and lifted and potted some alpines so that we could spot spray a pernicious local weed that has infested some areas of planting. If this approach works we will use the same technique at similar locations in the other platform beds. Dead heathers in the Mid-Platform and Bus Bay Beds were replaced and the summer flowering heathers were lightly trimmed.
We then moved to the Car Park Border and cut down the Iris Sibericas and herbaceous perennials that had died back before doing a cursory weed and removing the bulk of the couch grass. We also dug out the bind weed near the station steps. A few years ago the National Park Wardens planted a slate monolith sign to Snowdon in the middle of the Red Valerian in front of the power distribution box by the station steps. Naturally the Valerian hides this sign when it flowers. Before this summer someone had been cutting back the Valerian but this year they just trampled it down making it unsightly, so Margaret set to and dug out the Valerian around the sign and removed the rampant blue cornflower that has smothered everything else in that area. I spent some time dismantling part of the slate flank wall on the other side steps that had become hazardous to visitors and passengers during the summer. It had been damaged in the autumn of 2013 and has yet to be repaired.
On Wednesday October 15 we were on painting duties at Rhyd Ddu. I managed to plant some alpines in the raised Alpine Garden in the Mid-Platform Bed after lunch until drenching rain brought all our work to an end before 15.00 hrs and washed off all the paint Margaret had applied to the gable window after lunch. We left early and drove home for a hot shower.
We called in on Friday October 16 on our way back to Penrhyn from Dinas and we finished planting the alpines we started putting in on the Wednesday and then in the Car Park Border planted some pink Cranesbill Geraniums to replace the Valerian in front of the sign. We loaded the car in the twilight with Y Garn silhouetted against a deep red sky.
I returned to Rhyd Ddu in a supervisory capacity for the second stage of the Autumn Blitz on the afternoon of Sunday November 16 where I was joined by Bernard and Christine Price. I was on painting duties trying to finish off the first top coat on the window in the South facing gable; while between them they tackled the Bus Bay Bed and the Station Shelter Bed giving both an intensive weed. They gave the Scree Garden and the Rock Garden a hard trim. Bernard also cut down the Day Lilies and the Iris Sibericas in the Station Shelter Bed. Bernard and Christine cleared the rubbish from the platform and I swept up the remaining soil and grit before packing the car in the dark at about 17.00hrs..
On Monday November 17 I returned to Rhyd Ddu on my way back from Dinas to Minffordd hostel with the sun low in the sky over the Lleyn peninsula. I removed more windblown leaves from the Car Park Border and the Station Steps. Finally I planted more alpine wallflowers in the Station Shelter Bed and infill planted and watered in ground cover geraniums at the end of the Car Park Border next to the start of the ramp up to the station. As the sun dropped below the horizon I walked along the platform for a final inspection, taking a few photos for the record in the failing light before leaving the site at 16.45hrs..
Summer Trim 2014
This year’s Summer Trim working party was well supported on the Friday and Saturday. At Waunfawr and Dinas the results showed the benefits of a good turnout. However lack of support and the weather at Rhyd Ddu meant that we were not able to complete all of the work needed there.
On Friday 11 July we gathered at Waunfawr on a bright warm morning. Margaret, Rosie and Sophie Eckett started work in the Twin Shelters Bed, deadheading and trimming back early flowering herbaceous plants and spring bulbs. They also pruned any shrubs that were getting a bit leggy or were overhanging the back of platform. Any plants that were spreading into and over the cesses were trimmed back to create a neat edge to the bed. The North Bed was also treated in the same way and areas of invasive wild grass and rosebay willow herb were methodically removed from both the bed and the ballast in the cesses.
At the same time Howard Stuckey and I started digging out the cesses in the Water Tower Bed. The ballast in these cesses had been eroded over the years and the surface had dropped below platform level creating a potential ankle breaking hazard. The ballast here had also been clogged by a combination of dust, seeds and decomposed leaf debris from the trees. It had been placed in the cesses in the winter of 2000/2002 before the station opened and had reached the end of its useful life. The spent ballast and the debris in it, was dug out and distributed onto the heavy clay soil in the bed and new ballast was placed in the cesses. To our surprise we ran out of ballast before we finished the work so it will not be completed until the JLG Autumn Blitz. Replenishing these cesses took the two of us most of the day.
Having removed all the rubbish generated by the mornings work and swept the platforms after lunch Rosie, Sophie and Margaret moved to the Footbridge and Water Tower Beds to give them the same treatment the other two beds had received. The Water Tower Bed was mulched with the wood chip mulch not spread at the Spring Makeover in March. The plants were trimmed back to neaten the edges of the cesses before the garden rubbish was tipped onto the eco-piles.
Finally the alpine garden in the Twin Shelters Bed and the grass garden in the Water Tank Bed were given special treatment to highlight their prominent locations on the station. We packed up and left the site at about 18.00 hours.
On Saturday 12 July we were a group of seven all with some knowledge and experience in garden or tree maintenance. The weather was overcast for much of the day and the rain arrived in the late afternoon.
In the morning most of us concentrated our efforts on tidying up the Bungalow Border and Twin Bridges Border. While Jo Morton concentrated on deadheading, weeding and trimming back plants that had gone over in the Herb Bed, John concentrated on weeding the Dinas sign area and the Bank Border. The younger members of the group spent a good hour cutting back the overhanging branches of the cupressus trees planted along the boundary of the Water Authority Depot and they then removed the brambles growing out from the base of the trees.
After lunch John completed laying the slate mulch in the Bank Border and Jo finished off in the Herb Bed and spread additional large pea shingle mulch in those areas previously not covered. Some time was spent in the Trackside Border cutting back the woody shrubs along the fence line next to Lon Eifion and grubbing out grass, weeds and brambles on the footpath side of the base of the fence. Most people left the site at about 3.30pm leaving Margaret and me just to sweep up and tip the debris in the usual places. The rain started just as we were packing everything into the car and we left the site at about 16.00 hours.
We all achieved a tremendous amount of work that day so a big thank you to John and Jo
Morton, Rosie and Sophie Ettick and Philip Roberts.
On Sunday 13 July Margaret and I spent most of the morning cutting back shrubs that were crowding the planting in the Bungalow Border and putting new plants into the expanded area at the front of the Border around the turning head. A second bag of aggregate was spread in the Herb Bed to thicken up some of the thin areas beneath the tree. The Herb Bed is at last fulfilling its potential and has never looked better than it has this summer. In the afternoon we were joined by Angela Harrington and we de-grassed, weeded and spot sprayed the Trackside Border and I continued cutting back the woody shrubs to keep them clear of the rolling stock. We did not have time to put in the plants we had brought with us and we had to leave that until later in the week.
We returned to Dinas on the Thursday, a sunny afternoon, where we infill planted more Geraniums and Aqualegias in the Trackside Border and did more de-grassing and weeding. I finished off by placing two more bags of slate chippings at the back of the Bank Border under the large Rhododendron. Finally we infill planted some more Daylilies and Crocosmias in the Bungalow Border. We swept up the moss and leaf debris in the Turning Head and left the site at 17.30 hours.
On Monday 14 July the weather was overcast and as rain was forecast to arrive by lunchtime Margaret and I set up on the platform to start before 09.45 hours having assessed the Mid Platform Bed as the top priority for attention. We set too weeding, de-grassing and deadheading the raised Alpine Garden and the Heather Garden, At about 10.30 hours light drizzle started to fall and fifteen minutes later we watched first Moel Hebog and then the ridge beyond Llyn y Gader disappear in clouds of driving rain. We kept going tidying up until the drenching rain arrived and then retreated rapidly into the shelter for an early coffee break. We spent the rest of the morning clearing up swallow droppings from the two nests that have been built in the shelter this year and cobwebs and other spider generated debris. We brushed down and wet wiped the wall surfaces, cills and seats.
After lunch and photographing the Royal Scotsman Special hauled by No. 87 we decided that it had set in for the day and we loaded the car and went back to our accommodation.
After spending time stripping a window frame on the Station Shelter on the Tuesday we spent the afternoon completing work in the Mid Platform Bed Alpine Garden and the Grass Garden. We finished the day in the Station Shelter Bed deadheading and weeding the Rock Garden and weeding and de-grassing the Grass and Heather Gardens.
On Friday, after applying wood preservative and hardener to the window frame we spent the rest of the morning working on the Bus Bay Bed and planted some new sedums, heathers and ajugas in the Scree Bank and the Heather Garden near the new foot crossing.
Our last jobs of the week were to deal with the Platform Planters and then the Car Park Bed, which this year has looked very good. In the Car Park Border we dealt with the long grasses and willow herbs that we could see and planted Pink Cranesbill Geraniums, Daylilies and variegated Loosestrife in the few gaps left in the Border before deadheading the blue and purple Geraniums, The Bindweed and the invasive Blue Cornflowers adjacent to the Car Park steps were grubbed out but will probably come back again next year. We shall see.
Spring Makeover 2014
Rather amazingly for this spring we had no rain not even at Waunfawr during this year’s JLG
Spring Makeover. The sunshine was however notable only for its absence.
We met at 10.00 hrs on Friday March 7, a bright but sunless day and our main priority was to bring the Footbridge Bed up to scratch. Poor weather during the Autumn Blitz in October prevented us from working on this bed. Although Howard Stuckey and I spent a day there in early December tidying it up around the edges, much remained to be done.
Most of us cleared away winter debris and then weeded and de-grassed the bed. The winter flowering schitzostylis were cut back hard and some trees and large shrubs were thinned while we shaped others. Some smaller shrubs were given a light pruning to cover both autumn and spring pruning in one full sweep. This gave Rosie a particularly enjoyable day playing with her new long pole lopper. At the same time two people gave the same treatment to the Water Tower Bed.
After lunch we turned our attention to the North Bed and the Twin Shelters Bed. Both beds were weeded and de-grassed, with particular attention being given to clearing self sown plants and weeds from the gravel cesses. Spring pruning was undertaken and plants at the back edges of the cesses were trimmed back to provide neat edges to the planting.
Towards the end of the afternoon we returned to the Footbridge and Water Tower Beds. Howard re-mulched both beds with woodchips as and where needed. The rest of us spent the remainder of the afternoon removing weeds and self sown plants and bulbs from the gravel cesses of these beds before trimming back the plants to form a neat edge to the cesses. We cleared site at 16.45.
Thanks are due to Howard Stuckey, Martin Kressman, Rosie Ettick, Eirwen Crowther and Margaret for achieving a step change in the appearance of Waunfawr Station which is now looking better than ever.
Saturday 8 March was a grey and cool day and we were joined by new volunteers Bernard and Christine Price. After removing winter debris from the Car Park Border, we weeded and de-grassed it. The edges of the grass bank along the footpath ramp and at the back of the border were trimmed back.
After morning coffee we moved to work on the Station Shelter Bed on the platform and weeded and de-grassed it. The dead material was removed from the decorative grasses in the grass garden before giving them a light trim before we lifted some Irises and Day Lilies to take to Tryfan Junction. Then the Alpine garden was given a short haircut and several alpines that had not survived the winter were removed.
After lunch we repeated the same processes in the Mid-platform Bed and in the Bus Bay Bed where we also removed the dead centres of some straggly saxifrages in the Scree Bank and a number of dead heathers were also dug up. Even hardy plants struggle to survive in the exposed conditions in the Bus Bay Bed.
Finally we tidied up the platform and cleared the site leaving the station at about 16.15 hrs. Thanks are due to Eirwen, Christine, Bernard and Margaret for an outstanding effort in dull weather.
Margaret and I returned to Rhyd Ddu on Wednesday 12 March to do the planting we did not have time to do on the Saturday. In the Car Park Border we planted some Day Lilies and various types of Cranesbill Geraniums to fill gaps in that Border in the late morning.
After lunch we planted new alpines and late spring bulbs in the Station Shelter Bed and in the Middle Platform Bed we replaced a few alpines and spring bulbs in the raised alpine garden. Later in the afternoon, we relocated some self sown decorative grasses in the grass garden in the Bus Bay Bed. As an experiment we planted some purple leaved Ajugas in the most exposed part of the Heather Garden where the heathers are struggling to survive. We also planted new saxifrages to fill some of the gaps in the Scree Bank.
Finally we lifted and split some of the ferns in the stumpery and replanted them to thicken up the cover at the various levels. We then watered in everything that we had planted that day before sweeping up and clearing the platform at 17.45.hrs.
On Sunday 9 March the day started dull and cool at Dinas. Our efforts for the day were concentrated on the borders around the station entrance gates. We were joined by Bernard and Christine Price. Margaret and Christine concentrated on the Herb Bed in the morning as it was very weedy. After clearing the winter debris, the bed was de-grassed and weeded. Some storm damaged plants were cut back to encourage new growth, however there are still too many gaps and it was decided that these need new planting before the start of the summer.
Bernard and I concentrated on revising the layout at the front of the Bungalow Border. The scruffy grass verge was dug over and the edging of large stones behind the verge was lifted so that it could be moved forward to the back of the kerbstones around the turning head. A start was made on digging a trench in which to place the edging stones before lunch. A number of plants were lifted to take to Tryfan Junction to provide some established plants for the new gardens there.
After lunch I went up to Tryfan Junction to deliver the plants we had lifted. Christine and Margaret weeded and degrassed the Twin Bridges Border and did some spring pruning of the shrubs, cutting the red and green stemmed Dogwood Bushes right back to generate new stems. The mass of dead palm leaves on the Cordyline were also removed. Meanwhile Bernard completed the task of bedding the edging stones behind the kerbstones.
We cleared site just after 17.00 hrs. after a long hard day.
Margaret and I returned to Dinas at 10.00 hrs. on Monday 10 March. In the Herb Bed more herbs were cut back hard where new growth was showing.
We planted Giant Aliums, Irises and Lucifer Crocosmias in the Bungalow Border and also trimmed the Acanthus. Then we split and planted some low spikey flowering grasses and schitzostylis.
After lunch we mulched the new bare areas in the Bungalow Border and watered in the plants before turning our attention to the Bank Border which we had started weeding and degrassing before lunch. Three groups of Giant Aliums were planted and some other plants and Irises that were planted at the Autumn Blitz were re-grouped in to more defined blocks of planting. We finished the day by tidying the site, clearing all the mud, leaves and other winter debris from the corners of the turning head and left site at 17.00 hrs.
Margaret and I returned again to Dinas on brighter Thursday 13 March at 10.30 hrs. spending the morning clearing weeds and grass from the Trackside Border to make room for additional plants that we had brought up with us. We also identified areas of Japanese Anenomies that were spot sprayed in October and that were now showing signs of fresh growth. However it was too windy to re-spray them and they were left until our next visit in early May.
After a late lunch Margaret completed planting the Bank and Bungalow Borders and put some new herbs in gaps in the Herb Bed. I spent the afternoon lowering the angle of the edging stones at the back of the turning head to improve stability and remove a potential trip hazard.
We watered all of the days new planting, finally finishing at 18.30 hrs. and locked up the North Yard gates at the end of a very hard day.
I spent two hours in watery sunshine on the Sunday afternoon at Tryfan Junction with Ian Lord of the Welsh Highland Heritage Group putting in plants from my own garden and some we had lifted at Rhyd Ddu and Dinas over the weekend. This enabled us to get a new border started at the Caernarfon end of the new platform. The plants included various Cranesbill Geraniums, Crocosmias, Irises and Day Lilies.
This was a very successful JLG thanks to all those mentioned above, but our work is never finished so if you would like to join us at the Summer Trim or the Autumn Blitz working parties, do please get in touch with me at 01483 836217 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Earlier reports from the Joint Landscaping Group can be found in the Archived Reports pages: