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Cymdeithas Rheilffordd Eryri
Welsh Highland Railway Society

Society Projects
Photo: Graham Cartland Glover  

Tending Beddgelet Station's flower beds

The Project:

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

Archived Working Party Reports:


Spring Makeover Working Party 2011

The 2011 Spring Makeover working party was held over the weekend of 4 – 7 March.  Unfortunately we were seriously undermanned for what is always a large programme that concentrates on  the railway’s three stations with the largest areas of garden, Dinas, Waunfawr and Rhyd Ddu. As a consequence the amount of work achieved fell well short of that programmed and much remains to be completed at Dinas and Waunfawr.Working on the border near Dinas Station entrance (Photo: G Glover)

On Friday 4 March at a very sunny Dinas, Margaret and I raked winter debris out of the bed next to the bungalow and from the Trackside Bed north of the Porthmadog platform. The bank running around the turning head and opposite the Goods Shed was cleared of undergrowth, brambles and some overhanging branches. Gaps in the front of the Trackside Bed were infilled with transplants we brought with us. 

On Saturday 5 March, a grey day, we met Charles and Jo McKenzie who have adopted Nantmor on site. They are starting to think about what they should do in the garden area. We discussed the approach of giving each station a distinctive style that reflects the local landscape and microclimate. We also talked about current thoughts on using a modular system of planters to give some continuity of design to all stations. During the day they created and planted a small bed adjacent to the gable of the Station Shelter and stone/rock picked the open area adjacent to the level crossing.Dave Waldren and Margaret Glover mulching at Dinas PPhoto: G Glover)

Then at Dinas we caught up with Dave Waldren who was well into removing winter debris from the bed near the road bridge. The rest of the morning was spent spreading woodchip mulch on all the cleared beds at Dinas. We were grateful to Dafydd Thomas and two members of his team for assistance with the provision and barrowing of the woodchip mulch at the start of the day.

The afternoon was spent at Waunfawr, where a start was made on cutting back dead vegetation and raking out winter debris from the two smallest beds. Dave Waldren used his alpine garden building skills to extend and heighten the raised rock feature in the centre of the alpine zone of the Shelters Bed in preparation for the spring planting.

On Sunday 6 March, sunshine and cloudless skies returned to Rhyd Ddu and the McKenzies visited the Station to look at the small wooden planters on the platform.

The morning was spent clearing winter debris from the Car Park Herbaceous Border and de-grassing and weeding it. More irises were planted at the back of the border to deflect the fierce winds that blow down from Snowdon. Some plants were relocated to reduce overcrowding and some peonies brought up from Surrey were put in as trial planting. After lunch we concentrated on the platform beds, weeding and de-grassing the heather and alpine zones in each bed and planting replacement heathers in the bed nearest to the Station Shelter. Planting in the more exposed beds was deferred until late April. The planter nearest the Car Park foot crossing was emptied and restocked with new dwarf conifers. Finally parts of the dry stone walling in the central raised alpine bed had to be reconstructed while others had to be stabilised to deal with the ravages of the severe winter weather during December.

Monday 7 March was another brilliant day and we were joined by Martin Kressman at Waunfawr.   In the morning we cut back  dead vegetation in the Shelters bed. The ornamental grasses, irises and montbretias were cut back hard in the southern (water tank) bed and the overgrown schizostylis were lifted for dividing and re-potting before replanting elsewhere to replace winter losses. Where required some trees were crown lifted and any parts of shrubs overhanging the back edges of the platform were cut back for public safety. Attempts were made to eliminate invasive rosa rugosa for the same reason and a large Buddleia Globosa killed by the hard frosts was felled. In the afternoon work continued on clearing winter debris from the Shelters Bed and the small Northern and Southern Beds were mulched with wood chippings. Lack of manpower prevented any attempt at cutting back dead vegetation or raking outf winter debris in the Bridge Bed, the largest at Waunfawr, before the end of the working party.

On the Tuesday after the working party Margaret and I followed our usual practice of returning to all the working party sites to finish off as many bits and pieces as we could in a day.   In the morning we lifted prepared plants at Waunfawr and relocated them to the Trackside Bed at Dinas and we watered all the plants put in during the working party.  After lunch we visited a local nursery to buy grit, alpine plants and dwarf conifers, returning to Waunfawr to plant alpines in the alpine zone of the Shelters Bed and applying a grit mulch to that area before watering all transplanted and new planted material.

Finally we visited Rhyd Ddu to add an extra pair of new dwarf conifers to those in the footcrossing planter. Everything was watered and then we noticed that Moel Hebog had disappeared under a rain cloud which arrived just before we left the car park. It was a fitting end to a sunny weekend.

Summer Trim Working Party 2011

The 2011 Summer Trim Working Party in July was the best supported Working Party since the group started and we made excellent progress on completing some overdue tasks especially at Dinas which is now looking better than at any time since the Railway opened in 1997, If we can keep the level of enthusiastic support we had this time we should have completed the reinvigoration of Dinas by summer 2012.Graham Glover and Angela Harrington summer trimming at Waunfawr (Photo: G Glover)

On Friday July 8 in increasingly unpleasant wet weather four of us spent the day working on the Shelters Bed at Waunfawr which had not been tackled at the Spring Makeover. We cut back the spring bulbs and dead headed plants that had finished flowering, thoroughly weeded all of the bed except the alpine garden on which a start was made. We added potted up perennials to the bed to fill gaps and cut back any shrubs that were overlapping the platform edge. Work continued on eradication of the nuisance shrubs on the west side of the bed by digging out, lopping back or preparing for spraying in dry weather. Bare earth was lightly dug over in the wet before covering with a thick layer of woodchip mulch. By four o’clock when the mulching was completed we succumbed to the persistent rain and relentless attack of the Nant Gwyrfai midge population and departed for drier quarters.

Margaret Glover and Clare Britton getting down to it at Dinas. (Photo: G.Glover)

On Saturday July 9 at Dinas  we started in dry cloudy weather, spending the morning working on the three beds adjacent to the entrance gates. Again there were four of us, weeding, cutting back the spring bulbs, shaping shrubs and lopping some lower branches off the pine tree in the herb bed to allow more sunlight and rain penetration in from the south and west.Clare Britton at Dinas. (Photo G Glover)

 In the afternoon in brighter weather we concentrated on the Trackside Border bushwhacking the Gorse and Honeysuckle that was enveloping everything. Intensive weeding was undertaken along the trackside of the border.

A day of great job satisfaction finished slightly early so that we could be off site by 5 o’clock.

While the working party was concentrated at Dinas our old stalwort Pete Hugman was out on safari strimming long grass at Meillionen, Rhyd Ddu and Waunfawr.

Sunday July 10 was a beautiful sunny day at Rhyd Ddu which by early afternoon when we moved on to Dinas was very hot. Again we were four and this enabled us to make good progress.

At Rhyd Ddu in the Car Park Bed we again cut back spring flowering plants and bulbs that had died back together with the hardy geraniums that will flower again in September. The bed needed de-grassing and weeding because it did not receive a spring mulch. Some of the plant bullies were exterminated and parts of this bed will need some reorganisation and a heavy mulch before next spring.

After morning coffee we concentrated on the platform beds. The three planters and the three beds had been given a good weed in the preceding month so only light weeding and degrassing was required. This enabled us to concentrate on planting new heathers and a limited number of replacement grasses as we continue to learn lessons about what will survive the extreme weather and heavy soil in this exposed location.

Graham Glover preparing the ground for the Autumn Blitz at Dinas. (Photo G.Glover) After lunch on the platform watching the SMR trains on Snowdon, we returned to Dinas for the afternoon. Potted up Irises, Cranesbill Geraniums and Purple Loose Strife were planted in groups to fill gaps in areas of the Trackside Border cleared and replanted at the Spring Makeover. The ground creeping honeysuckle was cut back to the base of the Llon Eifion fence. At the same time bushwhacking continued in the overgrown area just north of the Portmadoc platform. Finally three very tired volunteers took turns to barrow and spread mulch in that area. After watering the plants in the last of us got away at about 6 o’clock.

Stan Owen and Andrew Lewis preparing the ground for the autumn Blitz at Dinas. (Photo: G.Glover)Five minutes after leaving Dinas your scribes car decided to take sick leave and we did not get away from Bont Newyd until 8.15pm. A late Sunday dinner that night.

After some hurried phone calls and lots of help from Clare Britton and our host Alan Pye we arranged the repairs for our vehicle in Penrhyn and picked up  the FR’s big blue Transit van at Harbour Station on the Monday morning.

We eventually arrived at a very sunny Waunfawr at 11 o’ clock, having collected our gardening equipment from  the car. There we joined the two volunteers, who we had been able to contact. We immediately got started on weeding and cutting back plants and spring bulbs that had died back after flowering in the Bridge bed and completed weeding and infill planting in the Alpine garden, and spot praying stumps in the Shelter Bed. Further efforts were made to rid the Bridge Bed of the vicious Rosa Rugosa which at one stage was threatening to spread everywhere.

After lunch two tired volunteers left for their long journeys home and Margaret and I moved onto sort out the Water Tank Bed. In particular thinning out and cutting back the plants in the grass garden. We also thickening up the sparse planting at the level crossing end that is exposed to strong winds and strong sunlight and which in turn cause regular plant loss.

We watered the plants in and on our way back to Penrhyn we called in at Dinas to water Sundays plantings.

Time  to relax? No Way. Over the next two days we started Phase 1 of repainting the Platform Shelter at Rhyd Ddu.

We did actually achieve the 16 man days we need for the Summer Trim this year. I would like to thank Angela Harrington, Howard Stuckey, Stan Owen, Clare Britton, Pete Hugman, Andrew Lewis and of course my long suffering wife Margaret for fantastic support at this Working Party. We did a lot of hard work and had a fair number of laughs in the process.

In addition I would like to thank Jo Morton and Roger Wolfe, who although unable to attend our working parties have both spent several days on separate visits to work at Dinas and Rhyd Ddu.

Autumn Blitz Working Party 2011

The Autumn Blitz has the largest and hardest workload of all of the JLG working parties. We    only had seven people this time but we achieved 15 person days. We had anticipated a few more volunteers, nevertheless despite weather which produced more hours of rain than any previous JLG working party, we actually got quite close to achieving all our targets. Grit, determination and webbed feet won through in the end.

On Friday 7 October, five of us had a very busy day at Waunfawr. After a damp start three of us spent the morning with loppers and saws crown lifting and trimming the trees and pruning shrubs in the Twin Shelter’s Bed. At the same time the bed was dead headed, de-grassed and problem runners were spot sprayed before the whole bed was re-mulched after a light forking over. The change to the character of the bed was amazing and it really had been worth all the effort, However the Alpine Garden was left for special attention on another day. 

Graham and Margaret Glover weeding at Waunfawr. (Photo G C Glover)The afternoon was dry and the North Bed was tidied up quickly with a light weed and some cutting back of shrubs and plants, before we turned our attention to the Footbridge Bed and the Water Tower Bed. In both beds shrubs were selectively pruned back and deadwood removed while many herbaceous plants were deadheaded and cut right back.   Another concerted attack was made on the rosa rugosa which constantly threatens to take over the Footbridge Bed. The Ornamental Grass Garden in the Water Tower Bed was left for a later visit. The branches of the trees overshadowing the Footbridge and the steps down to the Camp Site Toilet Block were lopped back hard to try to reduce the effects of the Autumn leaf fall on the bridge and the spread of mosses and lichens on the decking.

Graham Glover, Keith Holland and Clerk of Works Val Holland supervising. (Photo G C Glover)Pete Hugman stalwart strimmer extraordinaire. (Photo: G C Glover)Saturday 8 October was a rather wetter day with intermittent showers developing into short but heavy downpours after lunch before brightening up after 3 o’clock. There were three of us at Dinas. Two of us spent the morning crown lifting and thinning out the large evergreen tree in the Herb Bed by lopping off ten of the larger lower branches before removing ivy from the trunk. Light weeding and a bit of judicious pruning was undertaken in both the Bungalow Border and the Twin Bridges Border where little work was required.   

After lunch all three of us  cut up the remaining branches and brash and then moved to the Trackside Border, where we jungle bashed another 9 square metres of the Honeysuckle  labyrinth that once threatened to suffocate most of the shrubs in this border. The untangled shrubs were cut back hard to start forming an ornamental hedge along the fence of the Lon Eifion footpath. Some areas of grass and weeds were removed or cut back and selected areas were cleared ready to receive potted up plants later in the week.

On Sunday 9 October, hill fog and drizzle persuaded us to defer the planned Rhyd Ddu visit until the afternoon and we went down to Nantmor to stone pick the green area between the road crossing and the platform. By the end of the morning we had managed to cover about one eighth of the grassed surface which was enough to realise that there would be more than enough stones on the site to create an interesting landscape feature there. Before we left for lunch we enjoyed the sight of No.19 and the Darjeeling charter train accelerating away from the crossing towards Tunnel No. 4.

After lunch at Rhyd Ddu, we decided the mists were not going to lift so we left the Black Hand Gang in the murky light and moved down to a drier lighter Waunfawr to complete some of Friday’s unfinished tasks. Both the Alpine and Ornamental Grass Gardens were thoroughly weeded and cut back ready for mulching. Some minor reorganisation and transplanting to fill gaps in the Water Tower Bed was completed along with the light pruning of some of the shrubs.   In the Footbridge Bed, the gravel channel forming the platform cess adjacent to the footbridge was dug out and the silt washed out of the gravel before it was placed back into the cess.

Adrian Shooter with his Darjeeling B Class loco on a charter trainThe Darjeeling charter train arrived in the middle of the afternoon and waited for the afternoon up train to Porthmadog so we took time out to take photographs. (Ed: one of your webmasters being a 'Loco Man' has no hesitation in showing one of the photos here - regardless of it being the Joing Landscaping Group section ) Late in the afternoon we finished off by placing woodchip mulch on the Ornamental Grass Garden in the Water Tower Bed.

Monday saw the weather start dry with light cloud and Margaret and I returned to Waunfawr. In the Twin Shelters Bed, we finished dead heading the Alpine Garden, before infill planting with some rock plants we brought with us and then we prepared the area for mulching with grit.

In the Water Tank Bed we completed cutting back plants and infill planted some new grasses. Additional mulching was then placed in the rest of the bed to make good the areas disturbed on the previous afternoon.

After lunch we returned to Dinas and planted up the newly cleared areas of the Trackside Border with Cranesbills and Aquilegias, brought from home. As we cleaned up the end of the platform, heavy rain set in before we could move on to finish off the remaining tasks in the Herb Bed.

The forecast for the next two days was for rain, so we rescheduled our plans for the week and took a two day break. On the Wednesday before we made our first Observation Car return trip over the whole line we visited the nursery near Pont Rug to buy some bags of topsoil and grit for mulching. In the afternoon on our way back to Rhyd Ddu we called at Dinas to plant surplus spring bulbs in the Trackside Border and Herb Bed. We then visited Waunfawr and finished the Alpine Garden by spreading on a layer of clean grit mulch.

Finally on the Thursday at Rhyd Ddu we were able to deal with the work programme that the working party had deferred on the previous Sunday because of the weather. In the morning we gave the Car Park Border a thorough haircut and tidy up. We then planted spring bulbs left over from Dinas and also planted some more blue cranesbill geraniums before we then mulched as much of the border as we could before running out of mulch. All of the platform
planters were weeded and tidied up before receiving a grit mulch wherever it was required.

In the afternoon we dead headed all three alpine gardens. We re-soiled and replanted the Alpine Rock Garden in the Platform Shelter Bed and then gave it a mulch of fresh grit.

In the Mid-platform Bed the slate mulch in the Heather Garden was comprehensively hand weeded but it will now need topping up with fresh slate mulch in the spring. The irises, day lilies and montbretias in the three Grass Gardens were cut back almost to ground level for the winter. The four timber planters on the platform had previously been given an anti-fungal scrub by Martin Kressman, so I applied a thick coat of Linseed Oil to them to prepare them for the onset of winter.

Although things that should have been done were left undone, the casual observer will never notice them. It was gratifying to leave Dinas, Waunfawr and Rhyd Ddu in a condition that would see them through the winter. We were also glad to able do some stone picking for the Clan McKenzie at Nantmor.

You may have noticed that I have emboldened the names of the beds and borders for this edition of the report. I had been aware of occasional inconsistencies in identifying the beds in my reports over the last two years. Some names were similar to those used on other stations, with bridge, shelter and water tank being duplicated. For clarity, I have reviewed all the names used and revised some accordingly and more accurately differentiated beds and borders. Henceforth I will use the names highlighted above in my future reports.

I would like to thank Martin Kressman, Rosie Ettick, Howard Stuckey, Keith Holland and his wife Val (Clerk of Works) and last but not least Margaret for their support and enthusiasm.   
With your support we can do more and we may even do it better. Whether you are returning for more or a newcomer trying it for the first time we look forward to hearing from you.


Summer Working Party 2010

Joint Landscape Group held their June working party over a four week period from Friday 18th to Monday 21st. The long weekend saw big improvements to both Waunfawr and Rhyd Ddu stations with a strimmer in action as well as the painting of fences and much weeding and tidying of beds.Dinas saw some attention to the border to the north of the station as well as weed control measures elsewhere.

The whilst the number of people attending was disappointing, all planned work was completed, if not quite to the standard aspired to. Please see the Working party dates page for details of forthcoming work. You'll be most welcome to attend and to take part in this vital exercise in keeping our stations and environs up to a presentable standard for our traveling public.

Early Spring Working Party 2010

Joint Landscape Group, as part of the Adopt a Station scheme, held their 2010 EarlyThe Jount Landscaping Group in action at Waunfa Spring Working Party on the 28 February, 1 and 2 March. 

The work concentrated on completing that started at Waunfawr and Rhyd Ddu last Autumn together with some tidying up work at Dinas.

More details are in The Snowdon Ranger magazine due out on the 1st May.

Joint Landscape Group Report October 2010

The October Working Party from.Friday 8th to Monday 11th was rather better attended than the one in June, but we do need more people to join us for at least half a day or preferably a whole day over a four day working party.

On Friday at Waunfawr, Margaret and I were joined by Pete Hugman and John
Ettick.   All the brambles and soft vegetation were strimmed back hard on
the land between the tracks and the boundary fences within the station area.
The task of digging out the platform drainage cesses started in the summer
was resumed in the Bridge Bed and in the east side of the Sheltes Bed.  
This involves sieving and washing the ballast before putting it back in the
cess.   In the Shelters Bed it also involved making good the service trench 
excavations dug out during the Building Works.   Away from the cess the
damaged ground had to be cultivated to receive about 20 Cranesbilll Geraniums transplanted from the Bridge Bed cesses.

Rocks and boulders from the excavation works were set aside for use in the
Alpine Garden and surplus plants were potted up to take to Dinas.   At the
same time the lower branches of the field maples were lopped to head height.

On Saturday at Dinas,  Margaret and I spent the day cutting back summer
growth  and pruning woody shrubs in all the beds.   The three beds near the
main gate were hand weeded and degrassed.   The large trackside bed at the
north end of the up platform proved to be more of a challenge.   The cutting
back of the overgrown honeysuckle that had started at the June working party
was completed  and revealed two large fuchsias.   The deadwood on these was
cut back leaving the core shrubs to flower until the first frost.  Plants brought from Waunfawr were used as gap fillers at the front and some tall
grasses were placed at the back of the bed.   Dead groundcover shrubs were
dug out and grass and weed growth along the edge of the track was sprayed.  
However there was insufficient time to prune many of the woody shrubs or to cut back the summer flowering herbaceous plants and this has had to be left until March 2011

Sunday morning saw us at Rhyd Ddu with Chris Freeman who is now looking
after Snowdon Ranger, joined us for the first time.   All of the summer
growth was cut back on the platform beds and by the car park.    The
planting in the planter at the northern end of the platform was thickened up.  Three large clumps  of self sown moorland grass were dug out of the platform beds and the gaps left  were infilled by transplanting  from
elsewhere on site.   Some gaps in the car park bed were also filled with
transplants from Waunfawr.  In the afternoon we joined Chris in hot sunshine at Snowdon Ranger to bramble bash the land beside the footpath to the Station from the main road and cleared everything back to about two and half metres from the path ready to spot spray new growth when it forms next spring.

Work in progres at Waunfawr On the Monday we were joined again by Chris Freeman at Waunfawr.   The main
task for the day was to dig out and clean the ballast from the west and
south platform cesses in the Bridge bed.   The other big task was to
continue eradication in the Shelters Bed of new growth and new runners from the shrubs felled in March 2011 in order to prepare for replanting this area
in Spring 2011.   Two of the areas adjacent to the shelters were planted up
with relocated irises schizostylises and daffodils. The layout of the Alpine Garden was extended and the levels raised using the rocks that had been set
aside but it remains work in progress.   We need to find more rock and stone
to complete the drystone wall for the raised area so that it is in scale with the surrounding planting.

Whilst we had completed most of the heavy work at Waunfawr by Monday evening we had two boxes of plants to put in, and we still had to cut back summer growth, so we decided to come back the next day to try finish everything. The completed beds at Waunfawr Station

On Tuesday, Margaret and I spent the morning at Waunfawr cutting back summer growth in the North and South  Beds and part of the Bridge Bed. In particular the Grass Garden was weeded and the irises and tall grasses cut 
back hard.   While in the North Bed, the ground cover plants spreading into
the cess ballast were removed. In the South Bed shrubs trodden down by photographers opposite the water tower were lifted and new larger shrubs planted more densely.  In the Shelter Bed the plants in the Alpine garden were split, and rearranged to make room for additional alpine plants in the enlarged area.  Adjacent to the Shelters additional irises and daffodils and schizostylis moved from the south bed were replanted.
The remainder of the cutting back will now have to be done in March. The
mulching has had to be deferred until March too.   Despite Dafydd Thomas’s
best efforts to organise a truckload of mulch, fate conspired against us on both attempts but that’s another story.

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All content webmaster or as indicated - This page updated 14th May 2012 by Laurence Armstrong