Some of this year's squash harvest- should keep us going for a few weeks.

Some of this year’s squash harvest- should keep us going for a few weeks.

Old School Garden – 29th November 2015

Dear Walter,

As we move towards winter, this month has been one of small steps forward, old friend. We had our first frost last week, and I managed to get the tenderest plants under cover in the greenhouse.

Tucked away from the frost...

Tucked away from the frost…

I’ve noticed that the leaves on the Cannas have started to brown so it won’t be long until they and the Dahlias are also brought in. I won’t be cutting down or removing much else as I like to see the grasses and many herbaceous stems stand over winter- I think this is also good for wildlife.

Cannas on the turn- soon to be dug up and replanted in the greenhouse

Cannas on the turn- soon to be dug up and replanted in the greenhouse

The piles of leaves continue to grow, and though many have fallen, there’s still a lot of oak to float down and then be gathered up. I’ve already cut back and placed most of the Pelargoniums into trays for over wintering and once the remaining pots on the terrace are empty, I’ll plant out the four or five packs of tulips I have in the shed.

Tulips ready to go in some of the other terrace containers and borders

Tulips ready to go in some of the other terrace containers and borders

In the kitchen garden I’ve pulled the remaining carrots- they are a well-sized and tasty crop. The parsnips and a few leeks are all that remains for winter vegetables, with the promise of Purple Sprouting Broccoli to come in spring. As I reported last month, I’ve used my latest batch of compost to mulch the fruit bushes, strawberries and raspberries and added some manure over the rhubarb and asparagus bed, which hopefully might give us a few spears next year.

I dug up one of the remaining two blackcurrant bushes the other day and took this in to the local Primary School, where I was helped by 7 pupils to divide it and plant it out in their developing fruit garden. It was fun to be back among some familiar (if older) faces and they were very responsive and involved in the hour we spent talking about roots, stems, water and so on.

Awaiitng a Redcurrant, to go alongside White and Black!

Awaiitng a Redcurrant, to go alongside White and Black!

So, here we’re left with one large blackcurrant bush (after having three for several years – the freezer is still bulging with the last few year’s crops). I’m now waiting on the arrival of some bare root red currant and raspberry canes at the local nursery, so that I can fill out the summer fruiting raspberries and replace the blackcurrant, which will give us one each of Red, White and Black currants.

Looking ahead, my friend Steve volunteered to order me some seed potatoes, so I’ve gone for some first and second earlies which should be here for ‘chitting’ in January. I also recently ordered some seeds from the RHS scheme for members, which is good value for money. With the seeds I purchased on my visit to Wallington Gardens in September (as well as some harvesting at other gardens we’ve visited), I can see that February will be a busy time (as usual), propagating a new range of interesting flowers for the borders; including one ‘long wanted’ variety,  Cephalaria gigantea.

My Pond garden project is moving ahead slowly, with the reclamation of some large York stone flags from one of our outside sheds (we’ve had a new concrete floor put in here to replace the stones) and the use of the stony soil from under these to build up the surrounds of the pond area. Before going much further outside on this I want to firm up my design on paper, so the drawing board is out again and I’m sketching out some ideas, including a stepping stone bridge (this is what some of the flagstones will be used for), boggy borders and a ‘beach’. My collection of plants for this area is growing nicely so I’m factoring these into the design too.

 

On a broader front, I went over to Gressenhall the other day and began to clear up for winter (including some overdue shearing of the lavender and leaf clearing) and planted out some Catmint I took out of the courtyard planters at Old School Garden. Together with the new plants I purchased recently these will make a good show in a number of half barrel planters we have there.

You’ll have also seen something of my regular visits to Blickling Hall, where the winter clear up and preparation for next season is well underway. Did I tell you that I’m hoping to run a new Garden Design course at Blickling? Based on the one I’ve run in the past at Reepham, it will be slightly extended but will still focus on helping participants to design their own garden or area. I hope for a good level of interest, especially as we shall be able to use the gardens at Blickling as a showcase for many of the ideas and concepts I’ll be covering. If I get the numbers I need this will begin in early February.

Having just replaced the broken glass in our wood burner I think its time to light it and get something to drink!

Very best wishes,

Old School Gardener

 

 

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