It seems like summer is a long way off with all the rain and cold weather we've been having for weeks now. The plants are loving it though with colourful flowering plants coming into bloom one after another. The weeds are loving the wet weather too so this was a big focus for today's working bee along with the usual light pruning along the roadside. The roadside verges at the entrance to Bickleigh Vale road are settling in nicely and after a bit of weeding, are looking a treat. Look at that transplanted Edna Walling rose too - it's clearly withstood the move in good shape.
Its been a productive morning with lots of weeding, some light pruning, culvert clearing and generally tidying up Bickleigh Vale Road and Edna Walling Lane. This is on top of some hard work by the community - supported by Yarra Ranges Council - over the past few weeks to clear up and replant the roadside at the Pembroke Road entrance to Bickleigh Vale Road.
Its looking good and will look even better in the next few weeks as we get some warmer weather and spring growth!
The seat with its stone pillars and hardwood benchtop was installed by the Victoria's Garden Scheme in 1991 to commemorate the under-grounding of power and telephone services in 1990 (see the full story on our Home page.) Over the years, time – and two construction material trucks crashing into it in recent years – had taken its toll. The timber benchtop was badly rotting at one end and had become completely detached from the stone pillars so it was not really safe any more.
Using a couple of old hardwood railway sleepers and some brackets, landscaping glue, screws and mortar last week, the seat top was rebuilt and is now very solid and well connected to the stone pillars again ready for the next thirty years!
The weather forecast wasn't promising but we were lucky and the rain held off for the morning so just about everything that was planned for today got done.
Great turnout today as we got stuck into two big tasks - preparation for replanting at the entrance to Bickleigh Vale and clearing out those silted up culverts!
Along our roadside verges, as with any garden, plants grow old or become diseased or perhaps suffer from possum and bird damage and the time comes for renewal and replanting. This is exactly what we face at the entrance to Bickleigh Vale so we set about preparing a rennovation plan for this area.
The plan is to remove the weedy species, more invasive plants and tree stumps in this area and then replant with varieties that remain sympathetic to our Roadside Vegetation Management Plan whilst offering greater visibiity to turning vehicles as well as resilience in our changing climate.
Here's what Bickleigh Vale resident, Carole, came up with that was then endorsed by the residents at our quarterly meeting last week:
At today's working bee, we got started on the ground work. An enthusiastic group cut down the weedy species, pruned the more unruly shrubs and removed those invasive plants as outlined in the plan. Stumps and branches for removal in the next few weeks by our management partner - Yarra Ranges Council - were tagged with red and white tape.
Its looking a little bare now but, after replanting next spring and then waiting a couple of years for things to grow, it'll be a fitting entrance to this lovely village again!
And then there was the other project - clearing out those blocked driveway culverts. After a couple of years of neglect due to Covid lockdowns etc, some of them have become seriously silted up and in recent heavy rain, grooves were gouged out of Bickleigh Vale Rd as the gutters overflowed and bypassed the culverts.
Armed with our new Wolf-Garten culvert clearing tool, three of the worst culverts were cleared after much effort whilst others dug out the excess topping that was blocking the gutters and put it back on the road where it belongs.
There is one more culvert that still needs attention but we ran out of time today.
As well as the two main tasks for the day, we also got stuck into routine pruning such as outside Abbotsley where the plants planted ten years ago are now out of control and needed to be reduced in size. Whilst not really in keeping with Edan Walling's approach to pruning, the narrow roadside verges at the eastern end of Bickleigh Vale Rd don't leave a lot of room for larger shrubs and part of the Management Plan includes maintaining driveway visibility.
From past experience it won't take long for some regrowth to fill in the brown patches and get their free-form shape back!
Every few months, Yarra Ranges Council and their contractor grades Bickleigh Vale Road and adds more Coldstream topping when necessary to keep it in good condition. Its a bit of a tight squeeze for the grader but the end result is perfect for the village's newest bike rider!
With all the rain along with moderate temperatures over the past month or so the village is looking particularly lush and beautiful for this time of year. Of course this also meant there was more tidying up that usual!
As last Tuesday's quarterly meeting, we planned the tasks needed to be done at the working bee today:
After a couple of hours or so of hard work by everyone, we finished with a realaxing cuppa at Devon Cottage. A great way to spend the morning.
Edna Walling Lane becomes a divided road half way along with a beautiful centre plantation - one side leads to Devon Cottage and the other to The Barn. For the convenience of the postie and visitors, the mail boxes are both located where the road divides rather than on the property boundaries. Unfortunately, this means that just about every time the Council's contractor resurfaces Bickleigh Vale Rd and the Lane, they miss out the divided part - probably believing its actually driveways rather than Council property.
With the village Open Garden happening a month from now, and with five properties banding together to get their driveways re-surfaced, we also decided to re-surface Edna Walling Lane our of our community fund.
The end result looks terrific and after a shower or two and a few weeks to settle down, should look even better.
Friends of Edna Walling at Bickleigh Vale Village