During the storms earlier this year the magnificent walnut tree in Lewis Cottage Garden collapsed. The fallen tree has recently been removed leaving an empty space and a dilemma about what to plant there. Richard Orton reports on their plans for the new area as well as jobs to be getting on with in your own garden this month.

This year has been a very challenging one for gardeners; storms, drought, a warm early false spring and a cold late one. They are all sent to test our mettle and adaptability it seems.

Lewis, September

It’s the same here at Lewis cottage; remember the old walnut tree that came down in the storm back in February? Well to be honest since then we’ve rather ignored it (easy to do as it lies at the bottom of the garden), kicking it into the long grass so to speak.

But during a visit by tree surgeons to deal with ash trees suffering from the dreaded dieback their eyes fell upon our stricken walnut. ‘Does that need removing too?’  they asked. Well, that would be a wonderful thing but how on earth would they be able to move this huge fallen hero without totally destroying the garden? We needn’t have worried, the guys were very sympathetic and once an agreed ‘route’ out of the garden was settled upon, they set to work.

Removing he fallen Walnut tree

As you can see from this photo taken afterwards the main trunk has been dragged out of the garden and into our neighbour’s field. From there it has been transported to a barn and put into storage for a couple of years to season, after which we will take a view as to whether it is worth doing anything with. But for now, this leaves us with the dilemma as to what to do with the space it leaves in the garden. I was keen to clear and plant straight away, but I’ve been persuaded that a ‘long view’ will be the better approach.

With that in mind we have begun to put a garden plan in place that could last up to three or four years. The repair or reconstruction of the pathways is a necessity along with the severe pruning of most of the shrubs that currently reside there. Most have been struggling to find the light from under the walnut tree and are misshapen and leggy.

From experience, the rhododendrons and viburnums will bounce back with vigour, the smaller shrubs I think will be removed and potted up to overwinter in the nursery and the herbaceous perennials will soon become dormant. We will then wait until spring to watch and see which plants have survived. This will be particularly interesting as this area of the garden has always been partly shady (because of the walnut tree canopy) but as it faces south west this may change quite drastically and become a very exposed, sunny site, which won’t please the ferns and shade lovers at all.

When it comes to replanting, I think we will lean towards smaller trees with a range of leaf tones that we will be able to (eventually) look over the top of their canopy from the house, maybe some crab apple, ciercis, magnolias or even large shrubs such as sambucus or acers for underplanting. With the walnut gone, it has exposed the wonderfully pastoral view beyond and up the combe and I rather think it would be a shame to lose it again.

Until next time…….

Jobs for the month ahead

September is all about harvest and preparing for the short winter days ahead.

  • Divide herbaceous perennials to multiply your stock and keep your plants healthy and vigorous.
  • Clean out cold frames and greenhouses ahead of autumn sowings.
  • Plant your spring flowering bulbs – daffodils, crocus, hyacinths etc.
  • Don’t give up on your hanging baskets and planters of annuals - deadhead and feed as they will keep going till first frosts
  • Keep your azaleas, camellias and rhododendrons well-watered to ensure next year’s buds develop well
  • Avoid wasting gluts of vegetables or fruit by drying, pickling or preserving them for use later in the year.
Pickle and Preserve

  • Raise pots off the ground to prevent waterlogging (use bricks or terracotta “feet’)
  • The best gardening job of all – from your armchair start planning next year’s plantings, seed catalogues by your side!
Start Planning Next Year's Planting

Gardens open for the NGS in the next month

4th & 11th September 32 Allenstyle Drive, Yelland, Barnstaple

2nd & 4th September Russet House, Talaton, Exeter

3rd & 4th September Moretonhampstead Gardens

10th September Silver Street Farm Cullompton

11th September Hole Farm Bideford

Further information about the garden at Lewis Cottage can be found using this link https://lewiscottageplants.co.uk

Aug 28, 2022

More from 


View All