Hanging Baskets hanging on...

Hanging Baskets hanging on…

Old School Garden – 30th November 2014

To Walter Degrasse

Dear Walter,

I hope that you and Lise are well and have enjoyed the mild Autumn, in fact one of the mildest on record!

I’m just back from a long weekend in Bruges, Belgium and Lille, France. Not much to report of gardening interest, though we did see some wonderful places, including almshouses and a Beguinage in Bruges, the latter surrounding a fantastic open space filled with large Lime Trees. We also saw lots of beautiful townscape including some superb brickwork in Bruges, most of it amazingly bright and clean; I think they take conservation very seriously here. A pic or two to whet your appetite for more in later posts…

A final high point was a visit to a museum-come art gallery called ‘Le Piscine’ (it also has a much longer and clumsy title). Situated in Roubaix, near Lille it was once a public baths. The conversion – really a ‘reinvention’ has been beautifully done; retaining a narrow central pool with fountain as a centre piece, complemented by some colourful Art Nouveau windows at either end and other original artistic touches. They’ve even incorporated the changing cubicles into the display spaces by using perspex screens behind which a range of lovely artefacts are shown! Apart from the building itself, there’s a super collection of paintings, sculptures and various examples of cloth and clothing, reflecting the importance of these industries locally. There are also temporary exhibits to keep the whole thing alive. Here’s another pic…

WP_20141125_17_19_22_ProBack home, it’s been another month of relatively little action in Old School Garden. Mostly its been a few bursts of leaf clearing, a job that carries on right through to the end of the year as the Oak trees surrounding us are usually the last to drop their leaves. I’ve also started to clear out the greenhouse, and I’m pleased to say that the onion sets and broad beans I planted/sowed a few weeks ago seem to have taken and are sprouting.

I’m also pleased with one more major project that has involved new planting, including use of some box balls and cones that were gradually being smothered among the mixed borders. I’ve basically cleared out, lined (to prevent the lilac suckering into the surrounding bed), and repositioned the sleeper retaining sides to the bed in the Kitchen Garden that adjoins the neighbours (you may recall that my neighbour and I did the first stage clearance of this a month or two ago?). Well, I’ve used the box to create an arc and inter-planted with a selection of spring bulbs (Narcissus and Tulips) along with some plants I’ve raised myself (either from seed or plugs); Panicum virgatum (Switch grass), Geum (‘Mrs. Bradshaw’) and some Coreopsis. I’ve also added to the mixed shrub back drop with a Black Elder and a variegated, evergreen Elaeagnus. Hopefully, this will add to the formal look of the Kitchen Garden and give a nice back drop as you view the garden from the entrance. Here’s a pic…

The newly planted border

The newly planted border

My latest Garden Design course ended last week- hopefully I’ve given the students the ideas and tools they need to complete their own garden projects; one involves creating a school garden. I will offer this course again in the New Year. I’ve been over to Gressenhall Museum a couple of times, including a two hour stint of compost turning! I shall go over again this week and use some of the new compost to continue mulching the borders, along with a bit of a tidy up, before the winter break (I’m donating one of my blackcurrant bushes as we seem to have too many of these here, and replacing this with a White Currant).

You might remember that I’ve agreed to do a Management Plan for the Churchyard at our local church, St. Peter’s? Well, Deborah and I got over there last week and did some measuring up so that I can check the scale of a base plan the vicar has given me. I’ve a few ideas for this, including some tree maintenance, establishing some wild flower areas with mown paths to allow some access, especially to the more recent graves, and possibly some more adventurous planting in one or two places- if we can get the volunteers to keep it up to scratch of course!

St. Peter's churchyard-  beginning to get my thoughts together...

St. Peter’s churchyard- beginning to get my thoughts together…

We’re really looking forward to seeing you and Lise over Christmas, and hopefully your journey will be straightforward. Having just seen a news item about freak storms in Brisbane, Australia and the prolonged freeze in North America, I’m wondering if we’ll escape the worst of the winter weather again!

 Old School Gardener

 

 

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