Special delivery from Captain Skim

29 Apr
Captain Skim

In his element: Captain Skim, aka ranger Mark Astley, demonstrates his skill

As you know, I’m no stranger to the world of celebrity – and super heroes, in particular. I’m already friends with Spider Man (Look who came to visit, April 8) and last week I was thrilled when Captain Skim came to see me and make a delivery for Amanda.

For those of you who don’t know him, the Captain is a member of the National Trust’s Fantastic Five elite ranger team, along with Midas the Treasure Hunter, Tree Man, Bug Catcher and Den Boy. As their names suggest, they all have a special skill that they share with visitors.

Captain Skim – alter ego Mark Astley – is a world-class stone skimmer, who works in our North Lakes ranger team. He was dropping off birch brashings and hazel and willow poles for our garden team to construct pea tunnels and broad bean frames.

Nowadays, most people use canes, but these weren’t available in the 18th-century, when our garden was the childhood playground of William and Dorothy Wordsworth. Whatever period of garden you have, brashings will look much more attractive.

If you would like to make some, Amanda says the brashings for peas need to be fresh, otherwise they’ll snap when you try to work with them. Simply weave them together into a tunnel shape – you shouldn’t even need any string.

For the bean poles, thrash them into a series of triangular shapes, connecting with a pole running along the top. Then weave flexible poles between them lower down on either side, to give the structure strength and for the beans to hold onto.

On one side, we grow runner beans and on the other we put sweet peas, as it looks so pretty. Amanda trails lengths of hemp string down the sweet pea side, to give them something extra to anchor to.

The picture below shows Jean and Aine hard at work. If you’re wondering what the colourful, woolly structure beside them is have a look back at A heads-up about fun to come from February 19!

Making pea tunnels

Weaving: Jean and Aine making pea tunnels

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