Archive for January, 2015


Hi Walter,
I had a quick look at the Melianthus this lunchtime and as you can see it does look a bit of a windswept tangle! But you can also see…a flower spike! So it looks like my leaving the leaves on was worth it… we shall see!

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Blickling Hall, under some recent snow

Blickling Hall, under some recent snow

Old School Garden

31st January 2015

To Walter Degrasse

Dear Walter,

Well the New Year came, and it heralded a new gardening energy for me after a few months of relative sloth!

I’ve begun my volunteering at Blickling Hall and as you might have read this is proving to be very interesting and satisfying, including meeting a host of other volunteers and helping to begin the regeneration of the two acre walled garden.

At home it’s been a few weeks of planning (seed checking, organising and buying), thinking a bit more about the wildlife pond I’m going to install here at Old School Garden and getting a few things under way, like chitting the potatoes (‘Foremost’ as first earlies and ‘Charlotte’ as second earlies), sowing  the first leeks, some bush tomatoes, cucumbers and sweet peas, all with the aid of some heated propagators. They’re now doing nicely and in the next week or two I’ll pot these up and bring them on in my makeshift greenhouse (our lounge!). It’ll soon be time to get the next lot of seeds underway.

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Seed potatoes being ‘chitted’ on the windowsill

I haven’t been up to much outside- and the mole hills continue to appear! I think I’ll venture out in the next few weeks and continue the tidying up before things really get going. Oh, by the way, I’m persevering with the Melianthus as I believe if I leave the foliage on (despite the plant looking a bit straggly now) I might get some flowers in the next few weeks- there are some already forming on a plant I’ve seen at Blickling.

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First signs of growth for the new season…

I’ve completed my review of the grounds and gardens at the local primary school and hope that this will help them get to grips with their open spaces and get the most from them, especially educational and play value and for improving the diversity of wildlife. I’m also still working on the Management Plan for the local churchyard – the base plan is in place and I now need to research some details on establishing much of the space as a wild flower meadow. My latest garden design course is due to begin in Reepham in just over a week’s time- hopefully there’ll be enough takers to let it run.

I guess that’s about all the news this month old friend. I hope you’re keeping well and warm in this spell of cold weather, though thankfully we seem to have missed the dramatic snowfalls in New England (well, at least for now).

all the best,

Old School Gardener

Some great examples of how you can re/upcycle all manner of objects and materials to create fun and beautiful planters! (courtesy of 1001 Pallets and some other places).

Old School Gardener

Thyme we thought differently about roadsides?
Old School Gardener

Twittere52d4c4

WP_20150122_12_03_53_ProMy latest session as a volunteer gardener with the National Trust at Blickling Hall involved working in another area of the gardens- the Winter Garden, which I think was planted up a few years ago as an area to feature colourful stems, fragrance and flowers at this quiet time of the year in the garden.

Work in the Walled Garden has been continuing, however, and with a few frosty nights it has been possible to move and spread the rest of the farmyard manure over the beds. As you can see below, this has helped to give definition to these planting areas…

Muck spreading in the Walled Garden- get to work worms! Picture: Michael Owers

Muck spreading in the Walled Garden- get to work worms! Picture: Michael Owers

For gardener Rebecca, me and the other ‘Thursday volunteers’, this week involved raking off a thick quilt of Sweet Chestnut and other leaves, tidying up spent stems and foliage and sprucing up the Hellebores…. as well as uncovering the first snowdrops. When I say ‘quilt’ I’m not joking – I just hope the plants underneath haven’t been as shocked as I have been, recently, emerging from under my own quilt in the frosty mornings!

So, for me the day that was spent almost entirely raking and loading leaves into trailers to be carried away for turning into leaf mould. Definitely one that required a ‘Radox Bath’ on my return home!

Even though it was repetitive work, it was also very satisfying, showing off this lovely garden with its over-arching trees and understory of shrubs and winter perennials- and hopefully giving some of the plants a good chance to ‘pick up’ as the seasons move on.

Further information:

Blickling Hall website

Blickling Hall Facebook page

A 360 degree tour of Blickling Hall

Old School Gardener

 

Jardin

As if a visit to Oxford, “city of dreaming spires”, isn’t reward enough, a day spent at the University of Oxford’s Botanic Garden (OBGHA) is an absolute delight.

Oxford, "city of dreaming spires". Oxford, “city of dreaming spires”.

Botanic gardens have an important role to play in plant conservation, with research, development, seed banks and education, contributing to preserving plant diversity. About 100,000 plants, more than a third of the world’s plant species, are facing extinction in the wild and Botanic Gardens worldwide have an important role to play in their preservation.

The role of Botanic Gardens in Plant Conservation.

So it is an added bonus when they are aesthetically pleasing as well.

Solanum crispum 'Glasnevin" Solanum crispum ‘Glasnevin’ at the Botanic Garden, Oxford.

At Oxford, the Gardens are divided into the Lower Garden and the Walled Garden as well as seven glasshouses packed with treasures – 1200 different species from around the globe.

Exploring the glasshouses, Oxford Exploring the glasshouses, Oxford

Inside…

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Gressenhall Farm and Workhouse

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Over the last nine months I have done many things that makes the answer to the question ‘how was work today?’ sound very interesting. I have fork-lifted a mammoth tusk. I have frozen an Anglo Saxon manikin. I have cleaned a Bishop’s Throne and written a trail about dragons.

The weird and wonderful has become the everyday so perhaps I should spell out what I do here over in the Norfolk Collections Centre and why I think it is important. My job title is Collections Management trainee, and although you may think that it’s not hard to manage a load of inanimate objects, it is harder than it sounds.

The weird and wonderful normally appears at the beginning of the week when reaching up and lifting down some of the mystery pallets off the racking. In fact that is the most exciting time, when we are about to look at…

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National Trust Press Office

The National Trust has joined forces with charities across the UK this week to call for the protection and celebration of Britain’s treasured landscapes.

With ongoing speculative development in and around sensitive areas, such as National Parks and AONBs, the group of 27 organisations believes that it is vital for future government policy and funding to reflect the extraordinary value of landscapes.

Common heather, Bell heather and Western gorse lining the coastal path on the Great Hangman with the Little Hangman, Devon Common heather, Bell heather and Western gorse lining the coastal path on the Great Hangman with the Little Hangman, Devon. National Trust Images/David Noton

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