After a night out with work, i dragged myself out of bed on Saturday 2nd of Feb and was at the gates of the cider museum / garden center for the anticipated opening time of 9am... they opened at 10 !
I duly bought the 7 trees, all three year olds, at about 3 m high, and drove to meet Mark at the Axminster farmers shop to buy tools and fencing.
We decided to lay out the trees in a circle rather than the boring straight lines normally used. the required spacing with a mix of m26 (smallish around 3m) & m106 (slightly taller circa 4m) rootstock was 7 paces and we set the trees out then wandered around the farm looking at the aesthetics of the layout from a number of angles. The circular layout allows space for a future seating area in the middle.
Once happy with the positioning, a ceremony was preformed by Mark to give the trees vitality and a long life, i didn't understand a word of the Hindi (?) chanting, but have faith that it will give them power. At the end of the chanting we stood in silence with only the birdsong and river burbling past in a moment of serenity. It really is a peaceful spot.
Then we set about digging holes, half filling them with well rotted poo. The trees were planted with a supporting stake cut from the hazel growing on site. This went well and was surprisingly quick.
The next job took a little longer; deer fencing. the land is crisscrossed with deer tracks, and with no one on site they roam wild. we had 50m of chicken wire, and after a few hours of maneuvering it into place we realised it was 4m short to encircle the trees !! So we put it up anyway, with a mix of bought stakes (at £4.85 each !!! ) and cut hazel (free with 5 years of growing) and filled the gap with brightly coloured bags to scare off the deer overnight until we could buy more fencing.
Not finishing the job allowed us time to have a pause before the sun set to appreciate our work.