The first year at Bracken House was very much a case of 'leave it and see what happens'. Only a little cosmetic work was done in the area immediately surrounding the house, with the patio area being levelled and steps built from the house onto the patio. The bushes surrounding the lawn were removed and transplanted in the front garden, and the apple trees from the Annesley Lane / Portland Road corner of the land were transplanted nearer the house to form a small orchard.
The stables had a new roof, which was the most expensive alteration to the property, and the hedge to the rear of the stable block was laid. The remainder of this hedge will be laid in year two.
In the fields, all the fences were repaired and gates added to all the field entrances. These gates match the main gate at the top of the gravel path.
A small orchard was created down the bank adjacent to the gravel path and at the bottom of the bank. As well as the transplanted apple trees, other trees, including almond, cherry, plum and pear were added, along with the apricot and olive trees which came with us from the previous house. The red acer from the old house was also transplanted at the top of the bank.
In the area on the opposite side of the gravel path from the house, a small allotment area was attempted and a few vegetables planted. This was soon abandoned due to the number of rocks and bricks buried in the land. This land was then left to grow wild and was covered in buttercups, clover (red and white), teasels and bird's foot trefoil, as well as nettle, thistle and dock. A small area of three raised beds was built next to the lawn where the pergola used to stand.
Hedges on the Annesley Lane and Portland Road sides of the property were left to grow with a view to laying them in two or three years time. Only a light trim was given to the hedge at the start of autumn when the birds had finished nesting.
We have been treated to some fantastic sunsets, and sunrises, as well as some spectacular weather. With the land being so open, we have a clear view of the weather over the Erewash Valley, looking out towards Codnor and Ripley, and we can see storms arriving from over the valley. We have set up a weather station so that we can record the weather extremes which are regularly updated on the Bracken House Weather website. Data from the station is also uploaded to Weather Underground and the station identification is INOTTING15.
Looking forward, the main project for 2010 is to have the land surrounding the house landscaped. This will remove the unsightly gravel path and give the entrance to the property a more pleasing look. A natural pond, wetlands, bog garden and wildflower areas will be created and a large vegetable patch will be constructed beyond the stable block. Hopefully, this will give the property a great new look which will attract wildlife and be pleasing to the eye. With the laying of the hedge from the house down to the small field scheduled for the Winter of 2009, the property should look completely different when we complete the second year at Bracken House.