Wednesday, 9 December 2009

Wordsworth House and Garden, Cockermouth

At last - back to the soil. Sadly not my own garden, and sadly because of flood damage.

I took the hard decision a few days ago not to return to the Flood Support Centre, it was too draining emotionally and I was exhausted.

Teams have been working non-stop at Wordsworth House since they were allowed back in after the flood and much of the garden is already cleared, the aim is to have the initial work finished by Christmas so that the ground can rest (and hopefully dry out) until February. Today I did my first session as part of the volunteer team in the garden. Ravaged by the floodwater and left under inches of silt, the current work is damage limitation - washing silt off plants and digging it into the soil, picking up debris that has been strewn across the 1 acre site, removing plants which are damaged beyond repair. Work on hard landscaping such as 400 year old walls which have had huge holes punched through them by the force of water will wait until next year and be done by experts in these things. I learnt today that none of the plants are insured but thank goodness the National Trust has the resources it does to support these repairs, heartbreaking that many of the other 99 listed buildings in the town do not.

I have come to the conclusion that years ago I definitely took the wrong career path and missed my calling. It was cold, damp and the wind was blowing. The work was backbreaking but after three hours I could see the difference I'd made and I loved it! (Loved it so much that I don't mind how much my legs and back are aching - muscles which have not had a work out for far too many weeks.) No clear up tomorrow for various NT-related reasons, back Friday to do a bit more.

Dreadful photos - didn't think to take a camera with me and had to use the phone. Guess there is a first and last time for everything. There are limits even to what repairs can be made with Photoshop!

The area I worked this morning - the small Walled Garden.

Cleared up all the small bits of wood and dug up all the glass which used to be the shed windows. If you compare the two pictures, the shed in the summer photo was completely destroyed as the water poured through the shattered wall.

Although it all looks very bleak, the apple trees seem to have survived.

The Rose Walk at the end of the garden (next to the river) is another matter.

A retaining wall was completely washed away meaning that two huge Beech trees had to be felled, very sad. It doesn't seem right that these wonderful trees survived the river but were immediately cut down "because they might have been a danger to the nearby footpath" Bl**dy Health & Safety. This area is covered in wall rubble and it's not yet known if new plantings of vintage roses have survived.

Looking from the river back towards the house, how things looked in August this year. I have no doubt these beds will be equally pretty next summer.


  1. What a difference between the two sets of pics! But I have every faith that the gardens will spring back once dry and clear of debris - plants are tough!

    What is awful is the felling of the two beech trees which seems a bit over the top, really.

    You are doing a great job there, Bilbo - well done.

  2. I have been so bury here with the holidays, and havent been keeping up on my reading....and now I am sick over this! I had no idea about this until Nic at Nip It In the Bud emailed me! This is terrible! I hope everyone is ok, and things are gettng back to normal! I feel so honored that my little Bilbo was able to visit these gardens in all of their glory! Please keep us updated!


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