Each year at Alde Garden, once the campers have all gone home and Autumn becomes winter; we make ourselves busy with putting the campsite into hibernation mode. This means making sure all the accommodation and structures are taken down or safely tucked away for the winter.
When Spring arrives and the new camping season approaches we have big job ahead of us. We have to wake the campsite up again ready for visitors. Aside from when the guests are actually with us, this is one of the busiest times of year for us at Alde Garden. Here’s a little taster of what we’ve been up to:
We try to keep the garden looking as natural as possible. Creating a haven for wildlife and native plants is really important to us. However, creating a ‘natural wilderness’ is a real art form and requires more work than people realise. Over winter, and into the spring we prune and cut back a lot of the plants; trees, shrubs and flowers. We reuse the wood from this to carry out maintenance on any structures around the garden or to replenish the bug hotels with lovely materials for insects to hide in.
We keep the paths clear and add bark chippings if needed. While we have no visitors we also reseed the grass to cover any bare patches, especially where the tents have been pitched. This new seed has to be covered with a tarpaulin to keep hungry geese, chickens and ducks from eating it all! Luckily this also acts as a grass-greenhouse & speeds up the germination process.
In the spring the jet washer gets a real workout! Every piece of decking or hard-surfacing gets a good going over with the jet wash. We also scrub the treebog inside and out. Once everything is clean we oil the decking with a non-slip oil to keep it looking fresh & safe for guests all summer. This has to be timed just right. The deck needs to be dry & the weather needs to be good enough for the oil to soak into the wood. but if we leave it too late the air is full of insects which can be harmed by the oil.
Reconstructing the accommodation
Permanent structures like the gypsy wagon & the hideout stay in situ over the winter, but are prepared for bad weather. Everything is taken out from inside & put into storage & we cover the wagon in a tarp to keep it cosy. In spring we clean them inside & out, take off any weather protection and give them a good airing so they’re fresh & welcoming for visitors.
We need to completely reconstruct the bell tents and yurts in spring. We dry out the canvas thoroughly and store it, and the wooden poles away for the winter. In spring we bring these all out of storage to rebuild each tent. The yurts take the two of us several hours to construct each. Once the structure is up we replace all the furniture inside and make the space cosy and inviting for guests.
Every spring we are busy bees doing all of the above. But we also try and squeeze in some changes to the site. Little (or sometimes quite substantial!) tweaks here and there to make the site either look or function even better – whilst still maintaining the existing ethos & atmosphere. This year was no exception. We’ve made some fairly substantial improvements to the site this spring – helped by the dry weather and the extra couple of weeks before Stage 3 of the government’s ‘roadmap out of lockdown’. Our regulars delight in searching the site for the changes and reporting them to us!