There has been lots of activity in the church grounds recently, with a number of maintenance and development projects taking place.
Parishioners will probably have seen that a concrete fence between the church yard and a neighbouring property – just outside the main church entrance – has been taken down. This fence had been covered with dense ivy, and the concrete structure was cracked and unsafe. Working with helpers from Kirkham Prison and Community Payback schemes, the ivy has been stripped back, the fence demolished, and new fencing is soon to be erected.
New lighting has been installed to the path linking the church grounds with the Willows Primary School. This lighting will make it easier and safer for children and parents passing between the church and school, particularly in the winter months. The grass in the vicinity has had to be excavated during the installation, and in spring this will be raked level and re-seeded.
The conifer trees around the grounds are in the process of being lopped to make their height more manageable for future trimming and pruning, and to prevent them robbing other plants and trees of light. Unfortunately, some of the trees have suffered in past years through being overly shaded and, in some cases, pruned too hard. It is hoped that the trees recover well and that the lopping promotes new growth where required.
Over recent years quite a number of trees have succumbed to disease. Last year a large mature horse chestnut located near the ’roundabout’ shattered in two and had to be felled. A few years ago, an historic beech located near the main church entrance had to felled because it was discovered to be rotten practically completely across its trunk in parts. A few other trees are, ultimately, terminally structurally unsound or diseased, and will need to be taken down this year.
The large rhododendrons near the allotments are beginning to pull themselves out of the ground due to their own weight and reach. These will soon be coppiced – pruned right back to low level – to allow better managed new growth to develop. Over subsequent years, other rhododendrons in the grounds will be pruned back to better shape and promote new growth.
Although we have lost a number of trees over recent years, we have planted many more than we have lost. As well as the fruit orchard of around twenty trees – to be further expanded this year – we have planted a good number of birch and other species around the grounds. We also have a number of quality trees developing, including two quite large young oak trees, and two ash tree saplings. Our approach now is not to leave the trees to their own devices, but to actively manage the woods to help reduce disease and promote better plant growth by selective pruning and replanting.
Users of the car park will have seen that the entrance road and the roundabout is in rather a poor state. Last year’s severe frosts triggered break up of the tarmac surface, which has become dramatically worse in recent months. Some users of the car park haven’t helped matters by driving and parking on grassed areas, which are now looking churned up and in a rather sorry state. If car park users could take extra care not to drive or park on grassed areas it would be greatly appreciated.