Archive for April, 2015

Picture: Lill Dunne

Picture: Lill Dunne

What a difference a week makes- double borders in full colour

What a difference a week makes- double borders in full colour

A brief couple of hours at Blickling this week, as I needed to get home to prepare for our journey to Devon. Still, the place looked superb and I managed to sort out a few lines of plants in the walled garden.

My fellow volunteer Jonny and I began the day (which was sunny again!) with Mike in the Walled Garden. Mike wanted to level some soil between a couple of rows of well established Foxgloves and Rudbeckia and to straighten a line of Nepeta. We set to and after this put in a few more lines of flowers- Agapanthus and Phlox.

The session was punctuated with a visit from a senior manager at Broadland Council, coming to see how a grant they’d made to help restore the greenhouse had been spent and to discuss volunteering. After that I hoed along some of the other lines of veg in the Garden and generally tidied up. Meanwhile Rebecca and Pam had been pricking out seedlings ready to put into the restored greenhouse, which is only about a third full at present (with Penstemons).

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Last week I got my new badge, this week I’ve been offered some National Trust clothing to wear in the gardens- nice to be looked after so well!

Further Information:

Blickling Hall website

Blickling Hall Facebook page

A 360 degree tour of Blickling Hall

Old School Gardener


PicPost: Golden Eve

St.Andrew’s Church, Whitchurch, Devon yesterday evening. Just before a pint of ale at the Whitchurch Inn….yummy.

wheelbarrow jpgI’ve been guilty of these, have you?

1. Taking on too much

2. Too optimistic about the weather

3. Misunderstanding soil

4. Forgetting to fertilize

5. Not giving plants enough space

6. Accidentally inviting bad company

For more details and some sound advice see the full article by Barbara Pleasant here

Old School Gardener

The Pimple, Tavistock, today..

'The Pimple' on the edge of Dartmoor, Tavistock, Devon- one of my favourite places...

‘The Pimple’ on the edge of Dartmoor, Tavistock, Devon- one of my favourite places…

The circular bed in the Front garden- mixed tulips and wallflowers with a Star Magnolia at the centre

The circular bed in the Front garden- mixed tulips and wallflowers with a Star Magnolia at the centre

26th April 2015

Dear Walter

Not much to say this month, old friend. A combination of building work in the house (I’ve built a boiler room to house our new biomass boiler amongst other things) and having to trek down to Devon to sort out Mother-in-law’s move to sheltered accommodation have meant I haven’t spent as much time tidying and doing the spring work that’s needed here in Old School Garden. Having said that, Deborah has been a great help in weeding and tidying up. I have also been spending some time at Gressenhall and Blickling doing voluntary gardening, so I suppose that I’ve been gardening all the same….

The grass has had its first couple of cuts, with newly serviced mowers, but also showing the clear signs of several years of mole damage! I’m also pleased that my new shed – to be used to house the mowers and other outside power tools etc. – is up and looking very neatly slotted into a corner of the rear garden. This was prompted by the conversion of some of the garage into the new boiler room, but it also makes for a better all round use of the various storage spaces we now have.

The new Shed

The new Shed

What else to tell you about in the garden? Well, the Melianthus has finally broken into flower and I’m pleased that I resisted the temptation to cut it down before it had the chance to do this. The only issue now is that it’s grown rather large and may have to be moved to a more suitable spot- something for the Autumn.

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Other ornamental areas are starting to fill up with greenery and flower colour rather nicely too, and we are just about holding our own- as usual- in the fight with the ground elder.

I’m managing to get the propagation production line going too, using a heated propagator inside the house, moving then to the greenhouse, then to cold frame and finally hardened off outside before planting out. I’ve just put out some French Marigolds into the kitchen garden along with some Calabrese. These are sitting alongside some autumn sown onions, broad beans and garlic (the latter hasn’t yet made a show above ground). The Early potatoes have yet to put any growth above ground, but recent rain may help with bringing them on- we’ve had a period of settled, warm and dry weather here, the dryness rather holding some things back, I think.

I’m making progress with the new pond, though there’s still a lot of soil to shift! Still I’ve got the big Silver Birch stump and an Elder out, and so created the start of some deeper holes in the pond area. I bought some shrubs a week or two ago and have earmarked some others I already have in pots, so the planting should get off to a good start, when I eventually get round to it! I ‘ve also got hold of some spare underlay so that will help with costs.

The pond area - with Silver Birch stump removed!

The pond area – with Silver Birch stump removed!

Some of the soil from the pond area is going onto an adjacent spot previously planned for the new shed, my new ‘spring garden’. I’ve levelled this off and its getting ready for planting, though this will probably be in the autumn.

I think it was this time last year when I was reporting on the pruning I’d done in mother-in -law’s garden in Devon and I’m amused to find that I’ve almost repeated that in the last few weeks, with 14 bags of prunings and weeds to be taken away by the Council! As you read this I’m down in Devon once more, for another bout of tidying and sorting, in anticipation of selling her house and moving her to more suitable accommodation.

As I mentioned above, I’ve been over to Gressenhall a few times and seem to have made an impact on tidying up and pruning- I tackled the ‘Rambling Rector’ there this week, so that should keep it in check for another year. The deepened entrance border is looking good with its selection of Narcissus and Tulips set off well among the grasses and Lavenders , which will put on their show later in the year.

I’m also gearing myself up for a possible new Garden Design course in the autumn, talking of which I went to the local high School’s Music event a few days ago (Deborah is a Governor there and is in the choir). I was approached three times by women who looked familiar, but who I couldn’t immediately place. They all turned out to be former students on my ‘Grow your Own’ and Garden design courses! It was good to catch up with them and hear of their progress and obvious enthusiasm; and warming too as they seemed to appreciate the work I put in for them!

So, another month gone, and almost May. When I return from the West Country there’ll be plenty of catching up to do, and hopefully not too many disasters- hopefully the neighbours will be on watering duties, an especially important task at present with so much new growth in the Greenhouse, Cold frame and Garden.

All the best for now.

Old School Gardener




Tulip at Oxburgh Hall, Norfolk. picture: Kelly Boldero

Tulip at Oxburgh Hall, Norfolk. picture: Kelly Boldero

perennial borderPlanting-

Grow trouble-free and long lived shrubs and perennials instead of annual spring and summer bedding that needs replacing every year. All new plants must be planted carefully into well- prepared soil, so that they establish quickly and are able to resist attacks from pests and diseases.

Further information:

Top 10 all weather perennial plants

Tips for designing perennial beds and borders

Source: ‘Short Cuts to Great Gardens’ (Reader’s Digest 1999)

Old School Gardener


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