A lot has happened at Wester-Amstel over the last six months. But through it all, we’ve stuck to the saying, "Wester-Amstel is becoming more beautiful". The most visible example being our gardens.
Thanks to the arrival of new volunteers, the efforts of the garden group have doubled. We’ve seen a lot of very visible changes, such as the new organic vegetable garden. What’s more, it’s been inspiring to see the garden group throw themselves into the old herb garden with renewed enthusiasm. They revitalized all of the plots, meaning: plants were moved, beds were cleaned, compost was worked into the soil, plants were put back, and new ones were added. They applied the same method and vigour to the borders of the ornamental garden. So next year, expect to see some very happy and strong plants! One of the driving factors behind all of their hard work is ‘De Tuinen Gids’ - a publication featuring the most beautiful gardens in the Netherlands. They’re hoping that 2021 will be the year that Wester-Amstel makes its debut in it.
In other news, the agapanthuses (Lily of the Nile) we received as a gift from Huis te Manpad have finally achieved "container plant" status. We bought beautiful acacia wood tubs for them and couldn’t be happier with how they look! We’ve also finally (after many wishes and chats) purchased an incredibly powerful wood chipper. With it, we can now shred pruning waste and branches with ease and turn them into compost and ground cover. The purchase of the acacia wood tubs and the chipper were made possible thanks to a generous donor.
Not immediately noticeable, but 100% necessary was the reinforcement of various ditches near the orchard and pond. Our volunteers used discarded posts from the sheep pasture’s fencing and branch bundles from our willow trees.
As for building improvements… Our new tenant has installed beautiful cupboards and vestibules inside of the house. These made-to-measure cabinets enhance the office space even further. There’s also a beautiful new painting in the house. To find out more about it, make sure to read ‘Through the eyes of Linda Hartman’.
But it wasn't all sunshine and roses. This summer’s prolonged drought and extreme heat wave certainly left their mark. Fortunately for us, the park and gardens didn’t suffer too much direct damage. Just like in 2018, we pumped water from the Amstel River and dikes into the ditches surrounding Wester-Amstel. This prevented any major ground settling due to peat oxidation and kept our vulnerable rhododendrons and other shrubs safe.
A second setback was the zealous commitment of our Schoonenbekers. Despite the mesh protection we put up, the sheep still managed to "snack on" a number of the orchard’s young apple and pear trees. This, in combination with the heat wave and sudden frost in the spring, resulted in an extremely poor harvest. Nevertheless, we are still happy with "Jozef & Co.” and we hope to see "our" sheep again next spring.
Now that autumn is upon us, we’re getting ready for winter and making plans for the coming year. Right now, the park group is working on a replacement for the small bridge that provides access to the hard-to-reach portion of the park. They’re also in the midst of cutting down a number of unstable ash trees and replanting the area around the pond. The intention is to open this part up afterwards, of course, in consultation with the Lissone Foundation.
By: Els Hulsing