Sennicotts Garden opening for the NGS on 9th May 2010

National Garden's Scheme Opening 2009
Visitors enjoying Sennicotts gardens in May 2009

The gardens at Sennicotts near Chichester in West Sussex will be open to the public for the National Gardens Scheme (NGS) on

Sunday 9th May 2010

from 2-6pm

Tickets are available on the gate and cost £4 per adult (100% of which will go to the NGS charity).

Teas will be on sale with excellent homemade cake, and all of the proceeds will also go to the NGS charity.

Children are welcome and tickets are free for under 18s.

We look forward to seeing you at 2pm.

To find out more check the NGS Yellow Book or follow the link here

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New flowers on the protea

Our 15th Protea - still going and flowering again

In 2003 we acquired a selection of 15 Proteas, King Proteas and Lucadendrons. Sadly, despite following the advice, we systematically lost 14 plants over a period of two years.

However just before we killed the 15th plant we worked out the right soil, temp and watering mix and we have managed to keep one Protea going. Naturally we are quite fond of this lovely plant and of course it connects us with its wonderful floral kingdom home of South Africa.

Each year it rewards us with a couple of flowers and this year we were actually brave enough to cut the first one for the house – and take a picture of it!

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Deer frustrations

We have a real deer problem in the garden. Every time we plant something in the garden, outside the walled garden, no sooner is it established than the deer either eat it, smash it or fatally mark it.

This time it has been the cypress trees. As usual, they have been allowed to establish themselves for a few years. Then all of a sudden this winter the deer have decided to smash them to bits. Ripping all the bark and lower branches off one by one and each night finding a way to do a bit more damage.

Before Christmas I put up a security light hoping to scare them away. But it has made no difference and they have continued their destruction and have even got closer to the buildings.

Does anyone know how to stop deer destroying your garden?

We have tried every kind of smell and chemical to deter them but it really hasn’t made any difference that we can see.

The local pest control guy says the only thing to do is shoot them but down here it is too flat and populated for anyone to do this safely – although I wish our neighbouring farmers on the Downs would do their bit.

I am trying something new this evening. I have tied all the trees together with fishing line and then put some runs in the bushes where the deer push through to make their way around the garden.

The idea is that an unknown obstacle and one that can’t be seen might just give them a proper fright. It is safe because if they get tangled up the line will break easily but not before giving the bushes nearby a good shake.

I feel the benefit of something that can’t be seen is that the deer can’t jump it so easily which they have done with the high barbed wire fences we put up.

I’ll try and report back on progress and I hope this isn’t simply that I have tripped myself up ten times with my own hidden wires!

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Not so fantastic Mr Fox

The kids came back last night reporting they had seen a fox in the garden near the chickens. We put this down to imagination until this morning it was seen again hiding in the barn right outside the chicken run presumably waiting for us to let the chickens out (which we do most days).

We knew we had lost one chicken already but with only a wing to go on it was difficult to know when or how.

All credit to the fox which seemed happy to play the waiting game for one of our scrawny chickens but I’m afraid we couldn’t see a way of accommodating a fox with a taste for chicken so it sadly had to be escorted off the property.

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Sennicotts as a photographic location

Sennicotts house and gardens are an ideal Georgian, English Country photographic shoot and film location near Chichester in West Sussex.

The house is a Regency Villa (as described by the Connoisseur Magazine in 1967) while the gardens are formal and landscaped including a large walled kitchen garden.

Located 4 miles from Goodwood and within 9 miles of West Wittering beach and Chichester Harbour. 

For more information please contact Eloise via email

Features include:

Barns and agricultural buildings; Entrance hall; Cantilever stairs; Living rooms; Dining room; Kitchen; Bedrooms; Bathrooms; Cellars; Domestic swimming pool; Formal gardens; Parkland; Gatehouse; Fountain; Tarmac road; 3 phase electric supply, 4m ceilings; Oak framed summerhouse.

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This looks like trouble

Water frozen in the downpipe
"I can't remember the last time I saw the water in the downpipes freeze."

I was going to post a nice white snowy scene however I thought this photograph was more indicative of this very unusual cold spell.

Like many, I’ve been saying, “I can’t remember the last time …” etc. (With so many of us saying the same thing I can already hear a Michael McIntyre sketch in the making!) but I really can’t remember the combination of heavy snow and the continuing cold conditions like this.

I do fear the attached photo is the sign of some real problems. We already have water coming through the roof which should have been sorted before Christmas except the roofer doesn’t like the cold. The ice initially gives us a break but if the snow on the roof starts to melt before the ice in the downpipe (our loft insulation is good but not perfect) I’m not sure where the water in the valleys is going to go?

UPDATE (16:35) I’ve just come down from the roof. It turns out that my fears about the downpipe being blocked wasn’t really a problem. Why? because the valleys are all full of ice so melt water can’t even get to the top of the downpipe! Sure enough the water has found another place to get in although only in very small quantities thankfully. So I’ve just cleared the main valley but even as I was working the water was starting to freeze again so no doubt they will be full of ice again tomorrow.

This game does tend to take the joy out of these beautiful conditions.

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The hedge laying is finished

The Crumblies Conservation Group on completing the hedge in Chapel Lane (Dec 2009)
The Crumblies Conservation Group on completing the hedge in Chapel Lane (Dec 2009)

After weeks of working every Thursday The Crumblies Conservation Group have completed laying the hedge on Chapel Lane leading to St Mary’s Sennicotts.

This has been the most satisfying, and as I reported before, ‘addictive’ process. The slow taming of a hedge which had not been touched for decades at times looked like an impossible job but through perseverance and methodical technique it was conquered.

Within two or three years the hedge will have re-established itself and will require regular cutting. For now users of Chapel Lane and St Mary’s will enjoy the regular pattern of stakes and binders, a technique developed to make hedgerows stock proof before the days of low cost barbed wire.

The Crumblies will now be returning to Brandy Hole Copse to complete laying a new hedge in the Local Nature Reserve (see links).

Here are some before and after photographs (click on the images to see full size).

the hedge line in Chapel Lane before work started (Sept 2009)
the hedge line in Chapel Lane before work started (Sept 2009)
the Chapel Lane hedge laid (Dec 2009)
the Chapel Lane hedge laid (Dec 2009)
Chapel Lane from the church before hedge laying
Chapel Lane from the church before hedge laying
Chapel Lane from the church after hedge laying
Chapel Lane from the church after hedge laying
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The flagpole is restored

the snapped flagpole in March 2007
the snapped flagpole in March 2007

In Spring 2006 we redecorated the wooden flagpole and at the same time repaired the pole where damp had got in around the bolt holes. It was obviously too late because in March 2007, after a slightly windy night the flagpole snapped and was found lying on the drive.

For some reason I took it upon myself to make a new flagpole.

The aim was to make a wooden flagpole that would last forever. Impossible I know, but you have to start somewhere! However the first challenge was where to find a pole. Generally timber merchants don’t stock 9m trees so, with some help, I contacted Mike Cameron a Forester in the Plashett Park Wood, East Sussex which is run for charitable purposes. Mike very kindly agreed to select a suitable Larch and prepare it.

two pieces of oak were selected for the flagpole base
two pieces of oak were selected for the flagpole base

Things were going well and by Oct 2007 the flagpole was ready for collection. The only problem was how to transport it. Although not ideal, the only method at my disposal of creating a 9m long vehicle was to take a boat on its trailer over to the wood and to return with the flagpole strapped down (6m in the boat and 3 over the towing vehicle). This made for a nerve-racking journey so much so that it never occurred to me to take a photograph.

preparing the Larch pole required filling and hours of sanding
preparing the Larch pole required filling and hours of sanding

As I looked at the tree, now back home, I did get a sinking feeling when I realised just how much work was going to be required to get this rough wood down to a paintable surface, despite Mike’s preparation work.

We needed to let the Larch age and so the flagpole project was put on one side with the exception of sourcing two pieces of oak for the base.

The other dilemma which needed solving in the meantime was where to put a flagpole. By the time the old one broke it was sandwiched between two fully grown trees meaning the flag never really flew. Several places were explored but none appeared right : too far from the house, too close to the house etc. Thankfully the problem resolved itself when a tree died in 2009 in what was to become the obvious place.

bolt holes in the Larch pole had stainless steel pipe lining bonded in place with epoxy resin
bolt holes in the Larch pole had stainless steel pipe lining bonded in place with epoxy resin

With the dead tree needing to come out it was time to get the flag pole prepared and the base constructed. Sadly the pole had dried too quickly and there was a significant amount of filling required, not to mention several days of sanding. Wood glue was drizzled into the bottom of the cracks and then a two-pack filler was used to fill and build up the surface.

each part of the base was fully decorated before assembly
each part of the base was fully decorated before assembly

The rough sawn oak also required a lot of sanding and I had the words of my school woodwork teacher ringing in my head about the importance of sanding right down to a fine grit and needing to do it again and again to seal the wood. So that is what we did.

Then each section of the base was decorated fully with Dulux Weathershield 8-year protection system – except instead of one coat of each the base received two coats of each. The base was then assembled leaving the hardest bit to last – drilling the holes!

The old flagpole had rotted where the pole’s bolt holes had been drilled. Inevitably moisture had crept in here. In an attempt to prevent this happening on the new flagpole a system was devised to line the hole and therefore fully seal the wood.

finally the new flag pole was ready and enthusiastic flag flying could begin
finally the new flag pole was ready and enthusiastic flag flying could begin

To do this, a larger diameter stainless steel pipe was inserted into the holes which was then bonded in place with epoxy resin. This was repeated for holes in both the pole and the base and had the added benefit of giving enough free play for the bolts to allow for minor inaccuracies in the hole alignment.

the original flagpole top and rope was salvaged, prepared and fitted to the new pole
the original flagpole top and rope was salvaged, prepared and fitted to the new pole

Despite taking the full force of the fall it was possible to salvage the original flagpole top with rope and pulley wheel. This was added to the Larch pole using the original coach screw and the alignment with the base planned.

The base was then set in concrete in the ground on a bed of gravel. A drainage pipe was set in the bottom of the concrete to prevent water getting trapped against the wood. The base was then left to set.

Finally on 2 Dec the pole was installed in the base and the flag flown again. It stands 8.9m tall.

Having not exactly been a ‘flag man’ I was never very interested in flying a flag except on occasional special events. However I now find myself wanting to fly a flag all the time. This has led to a great deal of research into what flag protocol is. My research seems to suggest that on the whole the British have a somewhat indifferent approach to flags and ‘flag flying’ in particular. This seems a shame but then I wouldn’t be in a hurry to adopt the slightly obsessive approach of some countries.

What we need is a flag we can be proud of and get excited about flying – any suggestions?

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