Archive for February, 2015

Correa via the Exotic Garden, Norwich

Correa via the Exotic Garden, Norwich

Old School Gardener


Garten Sempacherstrasse 531. Ajuga

2. Hardy Fern

3. Hellebore

4. Hosta

5. Hydrangea

6. Ivy

7. Mahonia aquifolium


Old School Gardener

WP_20150224_17_13_25_ProOld School Garden

26th February 2015

To Walter Degrasse

Dear Walter,

A month of ‘not much’ I’m afraid!

I’ve started to clear the pile of bonfire cinders, ash and other ‘soil’ to make way for the new pond, hard graft spreading the soil around the borders (especially around the fruit bushes), but I’m starting to make an impact. I was also pleased to accept my neighbour’s offer of some large flints (removed from a raised bed wall they have altered).

I’ve bought in a few bags of good manure and started putting this around the fruit, so hopefully, if everything works (especially the weather and pollination), we should have a good harvest.

The general tidying up that’s a typical task at this time of year has continued; raking leaves and other litter off of the borders, weeding and tickling over the soil surface. This was especially rewarding this week, as I came across a flash of metal whilst turning over the herb bed; yes, to my (and Deborah’s) delight it was my wedding ring, lost about 18 months ago! It just shows you that I didn’t get round to dealing with this area last year! I’ve also commenced the pruning of various shrubs and grasses, including fixing some support wires for climbing roses. It’s always great to see the new growth buds appearing.

Seed sowing has continued, and I had delivery of an interesting selection from the RHS Members’ seed scheme, so some have gone into the fridge for some ‘stratification’ (a period of cold to help break dormancy). Unfortunately I was a little too eager to move my cucumber seedlings on, and once in the greenhouse they suffered ‘damping off’ and had to be dumped- a new set awaits sowing.

Elsewhere, I’m on a two week break from gardening at Blickling Hall, but it seems that the walled garden is coming on well; manure has been dug in and the delivery of path edging and the refurbished greenhouse is awaited. I popped over to Gressenhall earlier in the week, too, not for gardening, but to commence a new ‘creative writing’ course- hopefully it’ll improve my blog (and letter) writing skills! The gardens there looked pretty good, but I shall combine my future course sessions with some gardening to get the gardens ready for the Museum opening in early March.

Deborah and I visited Prague last week for three days, and whilst there wasn’t much of gardening interest, it was an amazing experience; one that touched many emotions and which involved 24 miles of walking over two days! I’ll post soem pictures from this trip in a day or two.

We’re also contemplating some alterations to the house, including some energy conservation measures, so it may be that the garden will be rather more neglected than usual.

Getting there- view across the Old School Garden orchard

Getting there- view across the Old School Garden orchard

I  hope that you and Lise are keeping well as the winter slips away and spring is approaching.

 All the best for now,

Old School Gardener

Thaxted: Sunlit Gem

Lonely Planet?

Lonely Planet?

A few pictures from a recent visit to this beautiful Essex town.

Old School Gardener


Municipal Dreams

Imagine knocking down some old Nash Regency terraces to build council houses.  If that idea fills you with horror, you should probably stop reading now.  If, on the other hand, it might capture a democratic moment, a time when we wanted to build houses for the people and cared less about the interests of the few, read on.

Derwent: Davies and Arnold, Zone C

This was the vision of Eric Cook in 1944.  Cook, a left-wing journalist, was the vice-chair of St Pancras Borough Labour Party.  (Elected to the Council in 1945, he died aged only 42 just three years later.) Admittedly, his idea had had some help from the Luftwaffe but the buildings were poorly built (‘by Regency jerry-builders’, he said) and thought at the time to be beyond repair.  Modern bulldozers, he went on, could easily create ‘one of the finest building sites in all Britain…the ideal site for…

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A sea of snowdrops at Colesbourne Park A sea of snowdrops at Colesbourne Park

If the answer to the title of this post is yes then you probably won’t want to continue reading. I know, I know, you can’t get stirred for galanthomania at this time of year. But lets face it, flowery delights in February are a little thin on the ground, we’ve all had enough of winter and are a bit desperate to see some signs of life in the garden. That’s not to take anything away from the beauty of snowdrops but I do think they owe a certain degree of their popularity to the fact that they bloom so early in the year and there is little else to compete for our attention. For a period of about four weeks from mid-February to mid-March gardens with collections of snowdrops are at their peak and it’s hard to not be blown away by the spectacular sight of carpets of…

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beech tree clumber park woodland trust

Beech Tree, Clumber Park via Woodland Trust


Old School Gardener


Thinking of growing your own cut flowers this year? Here are 10 flowers to grow from seed

via Gardeners’ World Magazine


Is gardening a crusade or a hobby? This question occurred to me after reading a New York Times article about a symposium featuring Douglas Tallamy, Chair of Entomology and Wildlife Ecology at the University of Delaware. Tallamy is also the author of “Bringing Nature Home”, in which he argues for the environmental importance of using native plants in home landscapes.

Yellow Coneflower and Wild Bergamot Yellow Coneflower and Wild Bergamot

In his presentation, Tallamy maintains that gardens should not be judged on beauty alone: Gardens should, among other things, help sustain the diversity of life.

Tallamy’s argument is all about insects. His research shows that native plants support way more insects than exotics. To give just one example, native oaks support 537 species of caterpillar, as opposed to a Japanese elm (Zelkova serrata), which supports none. This is because most insects are specialists able to digest the foliage of only a very limited…

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