Northumberland Wildlife Trust, Coquetdale branch

The Coquetdale branch of the Northumberland Wildlife Trust enjoyed an interesting talk by Ian Fletcher on Cragside gardens.

His insight was profound and ensured all took something away with them.

He was the former head forester for the Cragside Estate and talked to us about how Mr Armstrong planted the trees in his estate.

Armstrong’s first project had been his home in Jesmond Dene and then at Cragside he created lakes and imported many exotic trees and plants which have given much pleasure as well as creating problems for future generations.

For example, the rhododendrons which are so stunning in the spring are almost like weeds in the way they take over the land and have difficulty getting on with other trees. Likewise, the exotic Japanese knot weed is very hard to control or exterminate.

The management of light in the gardens is extremely important and increasingly challenging as the trees are so tall and dense now that they block out the light for plants down below.

Ian obviously loved his job, but it must have been challenging as the grounds at Cragside are permanently evolving.