I take up the tenancy of an acre of land on the outskirts of a village about three miles from my home on the 29th September. The site is a steady climb then descent from our village which lies in a dip between steep hills on the edge of the temperate rainforest that clings to the high banks by the side of the River Tamar. The river is the ancient boundary between Cornwall and Devon.
The lane from the side of our cottage is narrow and climbs for about a third of a mile, turns on a hair pin, becomes vertiginous briefly, before broadening out and climbing steadily towards the top of Hingston Down from which the view opens up for miles towards north Cornwall and Dartmoor. It was here the Cornish Kings in alliance with the Danes made their last stand against Wessex in AD 838.
I pause there and look at the weather on the tors in the distance. Often they’re completely shrouded in mist. From thereon in it’s basically downhill all the way to the site.
You feel these climbs and descents all the more when you’re on a bicycle which will be my main mode of transport to and from the site. Admittedly it’s an electric bike which makes the climbs at least manageable. On the descent from the top of the down I can get almost within shouting distance of the site without having to move the pedals. It’s a far cry from my experience of cycling around a flat, cycle friendly York, but in lots of ways it’s far more enjoyable. The views are incredible, on the lanes you don’t see much traffic. In fact some of them are so narrow, with grass growing down the middle of them, you actually have the upper hand on a bike than in a car.
The Tamar Valley is stunning and feels like a place apart. It’s wooded, with villages of white cottages, mixed with the remnants of old industry. Much of it is a World Heritage Site because of its tin and copper mining history. The other great industry in the valley was once market gardening. My neighbours on the site will be market gardeners and with a nod to that heritage I’m planning on planting a small orchard of local variety apples. Cut flowers played a part in the Tamar Valley market gardeners’ income stream and hopefully some of mine will make their way throughout the valley and beyond.
Green Fuse Garden is primarily a seed business though. The aim is to provide field pollinated seeds taken from flowers grown organically in the British climate that are attractive to pollinators.
The site was last worked to trial potatoes the remains of which were collectively dug up recently with the surplus being sent to food projects in Plymouth. It’s likely I’ll be digging up the offspring of the ones that got away for years to come. It does mean though that the ground is well worked and I’m hopeful this will make my initial task a little easier.
My initial task is to dig beds. I’ve been advised that 3m by 1m is the best approach with paths between them for easy access. The ones I get ready by the end of October will be sown with a winter green manure mix for digging in early next year.
I have a list of 79 types of flower that I want to grow. It’s likely that will get whittled down a little. In the meantime I’m writing growing guides for the ones I know will definitely be included and as I do so I can feel a mixture of anticipation, excitement and mild trepidation.
It’s cool today. It feels like Autumn is beginning to show itself in the valley. From my study I look above the rooftops of the village across to fields on the opposite bank of the River Tamar, which rise steeply and are crisscrossed by hedgerows. The river is completely invisible way down in the base of the valley. You first become aware of it when you hear its trickle and rush as you head down the lane towards the woods.
The cows meander pleasingly in and out of view. I’m looking forward to the colours changing as the month progresses.
The wood store in our little back garden is currently empty. I make a mental note to place an order before September gets too far ahead of itself.