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The Lavender Farm Blog

The lavender farm is not only a working farm but a well established Isle of Wight attraction. Within the farm team, there is an overwhelming desire is to share and bring to the attention of the public the many interesting ecological and educational aspects that we see on a daily basis.

Our primary goal is to operate a successful business, however,  we also see ourselves as an educational and informative centre. To this end we will be publishing various articles based around our nursery experiences as well as what we call good sense ecological propositions, that need to be shared, discussed and understood.


Staddle Stones

Staddle Stones

Easily overlooked tucked underneath old farm buildings and warehouses, the humble staddle stone was an important part of the structure.  Originally made of timber, stone became the norm for its strength and durability.

There are two main reasons for using them.

The first is to raise the barn, grain store or other structure off the ground.  This kept them above the damp earth and helped air circulate underneath to keep them dry.  If this were the only reason they could have used stone blocks and laid the timber beams for the buildings framework directly on top. 
But the second reason for the use of staddle stones and the reason for their particular mushroom shape was that barns and grain stores tend to attract rats and mice. So it was important to keep them out and cats just weren’t up to the number of greedy rodents. 

Rats cant hang on
Rats cant hold on upside down

Known for their ability to gnaw through just about anything and squeeze into small gaps, rats, and mice too, can’t walk upside down. This is where the stone cappings come into their own because the overhang they created when on top of the stone plinths made it impossible for vermin to climb over them. The shape of the caps varies regionally from square, round and fluted to the flat-topped cones we have on the Isle of Wight.  A good example of this is the central feature of our lavender bed in the middle of the farm courtyard.

Staddle Stone Lavender
The Staddle Stone at Lavender Farm

The staddle stones raised the buildings off the ground, which meant a big step up to access them.  Building permanent steps gave hungry rodents an easy way of getting to the contents so temporary timber steps were used during the day and removed at night or when not in use.  Sometimes stone or brick steps were built with the top step missing, making it too high for them to jump.  For added protection these steps sometimes had dog kennels built under them.

corn barn
The old grain store with very steep concrete steps to the now office

Staddle stones are still used today as garden ornaments and original buildings exist with them in place. The word staddle stone is also used in house, farm, and road names.

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Bare Root Rose

Bare Root Roses
Bare Root Rose
When you first receive your rose delivery, unwrap them, and inspect for any damage. Then carefully place the root or roots in a cool place to stop growth but with some moisture such as a damp cloth, so that they don’t dry out

As long as there is good wrapping or packing around the roots you can keep them for some time, such as in an empty freezer which is switched off.  Keep the top open a tad of the freezer and make sure they are kept moist.

However, if you need to store them for more than say twelve days then I suggest you take them outside and heel them in. 

Using this method you can store the bare root for some time, firstly create a trench around twelve inches deep in reasonable soil not too boggy, then lay the roots on their side at a 45 degree angle, cover the root ball with soil and heel them in with your boot, leaving the head of the root exposed.

Be sure to check the trench regularly for moisture and when needed gently ease out each rose for replanting in final destination.


Obviously they should be moved prior to the generation of new root growth as this is easily damaged so a good planting plan should be adopted in order to make certain the roses are given the best chance to thrive.


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How to water your new rose

No water no rose; all you end up with is a dry stick!  As with all things living the humble rose needs water to survive...

Here are some common ground rules:

  • When first planting, roses need more water, and regularly, especially in hot conditions
  • Examine the soil; if its sandy and loamy then water more often than if it’s a mainly clay base.
  • Even if it rains note that it’s best to water often to ensure they don’t dry out
  • Cover the entire root area well when watering; a slight sprinkle is just not effective 
  • Check the soil and dig down a little, say 3 inches, to see if the soil is moist. If not, water more
  • To help avoid disease water the soil, not the leaves except see below
  • In very hot and sunny conditions watering early in the morning from overhead is beneficial for the entire plant. Only do this if your rose is free of black spot and make certain it’s early enough so the plant has time to dry completely during the day.

Rose Black Spot

Mulch time!
Theoretically, you can’t overwater a rose. Of course, if you have no sun and steady rain for ten days, your roses won’t be thrilled, but if drainage is good, the extra water usually won’t hurt them, either

Having said that, err on the side of caution. For example, don’t water if you have had rain for several days in a row, but again, if the drainage is very good then feel free to water well, often it is recommended to use some mulch around the newly laid root. It looks good, retains water and keeps the weeds at bay.

Create a watering schedule and stick to it. Watering once every five or six days is adequate in most conditions, but obviously if very dry change that to every two or three days.

Be sure to examine the plant and the soil regularly; check three inches down to examine the moisture content, and if bone dry water immediately

Watch the foliage. If it’s dropping, this is not good as the plant is already suffering and watering may revive, but make sure it’s done quickly .  
Depth is also a consideration.  You must water so that the entire root zone will receive coverage which in reality could mean to a depth of eighteen inches. Getting to this depth will depend on the soil type but that’s what will need to be achieved.

Useful Tools

The soil probe is a hollow tube approximately three foot long and an inch wide. It allows you to take a soil sample for examination to the depth of at least eighteen inches.

Another tool for your armoury is the rain gauge. This tells you how much rain has fallen in a particular area, allowing you to accurately assess the amount of watering required. 

Watering methods
There are several methods to effectively water your roses. Remember the objective here is to water the roots at a continuous and steady pace

Create a basin of soil around the plant and fill on a regular basis, making certain the basin is large enough to cater for the plant’s needs. It should be at least twenty inches wide for new plants and at least thirty six inches for a large, mature rose.

Simply review the many types in your local garden centre to what suits your needs in terms of cost and the area to cover.

Drip irrigation
Ideal for dry summers. This is a feed system that drips or sprays water on to the soil at a slow speed so that the soil can absorb it effectively. They are designed to water a specific targeted area, thus weed growth is minimised.

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