Mickfield Hostas
Established 1976
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Reservoir of dreams
In September 2018 we decided to turn our redundant reservoir (the area within the yellow rectangle in the photo below) into an exhibition garden - we will post progress here as the project unfolds...
Aerial view of the nursery with the reservoir outlined
This photo, taken during the summer 2017, clearly shows just how overgrown the reservoir was, with willow and bramble, among other invasive plant life. It has been home to a variety of wildlife, some of which we wish to continue to support. Others need to move out, such as foxes, badgers and muntjac deer.

Getting underway

The reservoir was dug into the ground back in the early 1980s and is far deeper than it first appears from the outside. It's only when you climb the bank do you see the pool of water at the bottom, which sits below ground level unless we have a significant amount of rain.
We want to keep some water in the bottom to help with the general moisture level but will probably build up the soil around a central channel so that we can put in a raised deck walkway, which will enter and emerge from the banks of the reservoir to allow better access to the garden.
We will also create stepped walkways up and down the banks to facilitate maintenance as well as allow visitors to get in among the planting to experience it fully.

Views from the top before work gets underway:
Reservoir from top of bankReservoir from top of bankReservoir from top of bank
Replicating a natural environment
Hosta are woodland plants, naturally found growing on the lower slopes of mountains where they form the bottom layer of vegetation. Above them grow small trees, such as acers, so our plan is to introduce a canopy of trees to provide shade and create structure, consisting largely of varieties you would find them growing under in the wild.

It is very exciting to plan this as a giant floral marquee display after years of trying to simulate the effect in limited space. A lot of imagination is required at this stage.
Reservoir from top of bankReservoir from top of bankReservoir from top of bank
A couple of months into clearance and a lot has been done. This is a panoranic shot of the south-east corner of the reservoir, nearest to the packing shed, before we began the clearing process:

Before clearing
This the view at the end of November 2018:
Reservoir from south east corner
Most of what is left is growing from within the reservoir and consists largely of willow. A lot of this will need to be removed and replacement trees planted to create a shady canopy over time.

The photos below: standing on the north west corner of the reservoir bank looking north, north east along the line of poplars, then north east. The far right hand photo is looking south-west from the same spot, towards Mickfield Church (if you could see it hiding behind the trees).
Reservoir from top of bankReservoir from top of bankReservoir from top of bank

January 2019: Draft layout plan
The drawing below shows the anticipated network of pathways, which will be mainly elevated within the basin of the reservoir and then shingle/sleeper combinations for when the paths rise out of the reservoir. We are planning for the majority of the walkways to be accessible by wheelchair but there will be sections where that would be impossible, due to the steep slopes. However, all the key elements of the garden should be viewable on the level.

The dotted brown line denotes the top of the reservoir banks and there will be pathways along much of the top.

The poplar trees you can see in the aerial photo at the head of the page, which form our west-facing boundary, line the left hand side of the drawing:

You can see we plan to have a number of specific types of environment among the general scheme, including rocky slopes, a darker, very shady area with ferns and jungly vegetation and a stumpery.
We want to retain a water channel in the basin of the reservoir, which is the main reason the pathways will need to be elevated. We want this water channel to rise and fall according to the weather as it wil provide a valuable habit for wildlife whilst serving the needs of the garden.
At this early stage we cannot predict how the environments will work or how different micro-climates will become established over time, but that is one of the joys of building a new garden.

More to follow...
Last updated: 6/4/2020