Jasper and Bolero arrived at Hare Hill yesterday to begin dredging the ponds. Simon, David and Keith from Ecologial Logging spent the day with our Ranger John testing the most efficient way of carrying out the dredging, then the horses got to work!
The Pond Dredging Project
With your help, we've now raised £25,000 to get two horses working for a month on the garden ponds - and you can see them in action from the end of June 2018. This brand new conservation technique is being carried out for the first time.
A woodland challenge
Four years ago, the pond at North Park View was dredged, and this has significantly improved the water quality and wildlife environment. However the use of diggers resulted in some damage to the surrounding landscape. The other woodland ponds present a new challenge. We know they are up to 7 foot deep, yet the water level is only 9-12 inches; the rest is tree debris and sludge which has built up over many years. They also lie within the densest part of the woodland garden. So this is our most exciting project so far - to dredge the ponds using horse power.
" The horse is the most environmentally friendly method of doing this particular type of work... Carbon neutral, sustainable and powered by hay and grain produced by our solar system"
An experienced horse logging team from Cumbria, led by Simon Lenihan, is using a specially designed dredging cage to clear the ponds, and the debris will be turned into mulch for the garden. Simon says "The horse we used for the trial at Hare Hill is a Belgian Ardennes stallion called Rosco. These horses are from the Ardennes mountains which separate Belgium and France; they were the favoured breed of Napoleon, and he used them to pull his artillery during his war campaign. They were also praised by Julius Caesar for their strength and hardiness. The horse is the most environmentally friendly method of doing this particular type of work: carbon neutral, sustainable and powered by hay and grain produced by our solar system. And the by-product - horse manure - goes back into the soil!"
An ornamental garden
The ponds were part of Charles Brocklehurst's original vision for the garden; over many years their ornamental features have been obscured by spreading rhododentron ponticum, much of which was diseased. Most of this has been cleared, which together with the dredging will greatly improve the aesthetic appeal of this important part of the garden. Only when the ponds are dredged can we start replanting, using correspondence between Colonol Brocklehurst and his garden designer James Russell as our guide.
The real work begins...
After a successful two-day trial in August 2016, thanks to our generous supporters, we've raised £25,000 to enable Simon and his team to return in summer 2018, to continue the process of restoring our ponds. Two North Swedish horses, Jasper and Bolero, will be working in the garden every day, from Monday June 25th through to Tuesday July 24th, and visitors will have a grandstand view of the work during this time. We still need your help, as the process of replanting the ponds will start after the horses have gone; please support us by buyling a raffle ticket at Hare Hill, or donating online.
25 Jun 18
The horses arrive
30 Jun 18
Nearing the end of week one
Day 6 and all is progressing well. The dredger has reached clay, and a large amount of debris has been removed from the first pond. Jasper and Bolero will be working on the second pond next week.
07 Jul 18
A new way of working
Towards the end of week 2, and Simon and the team are having great success using a different cage to drag the more solid debris from the second pond