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A Tree Fern Valley

A Tree Fern Valley in the Tropic Of Henstead.
Top left
- the effect of a circular walk is magnified here as each slab changes angle slightly and the path gradually disappears out of site, leading you on. The rising sides of the valley made from 20 tonnes of stone, further obscure the destination of the path and arouse curiosity as it drops in level too, down into the shade.
Below left - 18 months after the photo above and moss has started to grow on the stone and the palms have established.
Right - 3 years after the first photo and the effect we set out to achieve is starting to appear; a descent into a tunnel of jungle foliage. Tree fern and palm fronds meeting overhead to make a cool shady micro climate with smaller ferns and moss encrusting the stones on all sides.

Left - sunlight filters through the tree fern leaves and palm crowns, adding to the primeval character of these plants which have not evolved very much since the age of dinsosaurs, as paleobotanists have found from studying fossil remains of these plants.
Right -  the open and porous structure of this stone allows it to hold moisture and for moss and fern spores to gain a foothold making a living, ancient looking structure to compliment the plants. The Dicksonia antarctica tree ferns are beginning to establish here and grow longer fronds.

Left - our 'Slab of Oak' benches fit into alcoves in each side of the valley so that it is not just a walk through experience. One of the keys to any successful garden is to have places with different characters to go and sit in, giving you a varied experience in the garden.
Right -  we wanted to make the most of this location - surrounded by stone at close quarters, by providing the opportunity to share it with friends. A pair of  two seater benches here was essential, so that on a hot summers day this cool retreat can be enjoyed as a place to socialise and visitors to the garden can stop and chat here whilst taking in the atmosphere.

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