Archive for March, 2017

Maltese Cross?

How many light bulb changes does it take to make a Maltese Cross?!

picture: Steve Mosley


To Walter de Grasse

Dear Walter,

This has been a month of really ‘getting going’ in Old School Garden. My hip and back have held up well so I’ve gradually increased my labouring times in the garden…I managed about 8 hours yesterday!

Whilst I’ve made inroads into the weeding- not an easy task with ground elder entangled ‘big time’ among the borders- it’s also been a time of upheaval, especially in the Kitchen Garden.

Here I’ve commenced my major reorganisation by removing the various trellises and posts – for reuse in a different position. I’ve also planted out a new row of summer fruiting raspberries and relocated a row of autumn fruiting too. At the same time the currant bushes and gooseberries have all been moved around, so the new grand plan is taking shape.

Relocated summer raspberries

I plan to use the trellis to more clearly separate off the Kitchen Garden and at the same time create an arched entrance which will be repeated along the sides of the first beds to create a rose walkway- I’ve recently bought six ‘Compassion’ climbing roses which I’m looking forward to seeing clamber up wooden uprights and along either a wooden bar or perhaps a rope swag.

In destructive mode (or perhaps ‘reconstructive’ would be better?) I’ve also removed the three old stumps of a large Ash tree that once overlooked the kitchen garden and which latterly have become clothed in ivy that has got out of hand. I must say the area looks a lot neater and will also open up a corner of the kitchen garden to more light too. It was facinating seeing how the process of decay has taken hold of the inner core of these stumps and how the material gradually reverts to something resembling soil…along with innumerable chrysalis’ of beetles and other rotting wood feeding critters.

With the warmer weather and longer days, this is the time to really get stuck into the garden, so I hope that you and Ferdy are also enjoying yourselves in your beautiful plot. I cut the grass here for the first time the other day and doesn’t that just improve the look of the most untidy garden?!

Today I’ve been to an interesting talk about the ‘Walled Kitchen Garden’ given by a local garden designer. This was very enjoyable and expanded my knowledge of the history and some of the old practices used in these wonderful places. Of course, as you will have been reading I’m really enjoying my volunteering at Blickling with its wonderful regenerated walled garden. I can’t believe its only 18 months since that project much has been achieved.

I’ve mentioned the Allotment Project at Reepham High School, I think. I’m pleased to say that the greenhouse I managed to dismantle and reconstruct is in situ and hopefully it won’t be long before the glass is in and it’s being used to propagate seeds and maybe even grow tomatoes. And I must also mention that the project was the runner-up in a Norfolk ecological competition recently. Well deserved, so congratulations to Matt Willer and all the volunteers at the project!

I also visited a recently established Organic Market Garden at Booton, next door to Reepham the other day. Eves Hill Veg Co. is a social enterprise set up by Hannah Claxton who is gradually relocating herself from her current base in London (where she teaches organic growing) to this base, where currently a number of volunteers are engaged in getting the year’s growing season underway. I was pleased to meet Hannah and some of the volunteers and I wish them every success; maybe I can be of help to them at some point too. I was also grateful to be able to collect a trailer load of compost for free from them; courtesy of a local industrial scale composting facility (which composts household waste). The compost isn’t very fertile but it’s lovely stuff for building soil structure and for mulching, which is how I’ll be using it here.

Thanks for the compost Hannah!

Well, old friend, I think it’s time to be planning my day in the garden tomorrow…I think it’ll be a combination of more border clearance, ground elder removal, replenishing the compost in some long-term potted shrubs, and sowing some Phacelia. As we are going to be away for a longish period in a few weeks, I’m not planning to grow much by way of food this year. So this ‘Green Manure’ is perfect for covering the ground and then enriching it as it’s dug in. Happy gardening!

Old School Gardener








Back to Thursday, this week at Blickling; it was good to see my fellow volunteers, who haven’t been with for a few weeks…so there was much catching up of news as you might imagine.

Most of us were sent off to the Walled Garden, where I was very excited to see the fully (well nearly) installed cold frames…what an impressive sight! They are just awaiting a set of stays to make sure they can be lifted fully open and propped whilst plants are placed in and out.

Norfolk Pete, Jane and I set about lifting the bed of Penstemons that had been slotted in here last autumn. We transported them over to the potting shed where other volunteers and gardener Rebecca were trimming them, potting them up and planting cuttings to propagate.

These are the Penstemons that are used at the top of the Parterre garden wall to replace the purple hyacinths that are just now coming into bloom. As I’ve been at Blickling for just over a year, I’m beginning to get the annual routine that affects much of the gardening activity here (and most places for that matter!); you may recall that a few weeks ago I was (once again) planting out Hellebores.

After lifting the Penstemons, Peter and I dug over the bed, leaving me a little time to help finish off the potting up. And as there were some hyacinths on sale I bagged eight and have slotted these into a border at home where some of last year’s were also put…sounds like I’m repeating myself?!

Further Information:

Blickling Hall website

Blickling Hall Facebook page

A 360 degree tour of Blickling Hall

Old School Gardener





Heart of Hackney

I attended a meeting in Haggerston, Hackney, London recently and spotted this rather fine old Park Keeper’s lodge at Albion Square Gardens.

Old School Gardener

Bologna flower Shop…

When traveling I always try to find flower shops and flower stands to take a photo. It is wonderful to see how people from different countries put flowers on display, the places where you can buy flowers, what do the bouquets look like, how much do they cost? In Oslo a bunch of us,colleagues […]

via  Flower Shop in Bologna — My Botanical Garden

Over the years, PlayGroundology has received lots of wonderful comments from readers and play enthusiasts around the world. It is a real pleasure to think that in some small ways the blog is helping to inspire people to advocate for a greater variety of public play spaces for kids. Today, a comment arrived from Hong […]

via From Hong Kong with Love — PlayGroundology

Well seasoned…

Good gardeners learn to time their work according to the seasons, but when do the seasons begin and end? There are different ways to divide up a year into seasons, changing when each actual season starts. Seasons can be meteorological or more traditionally astronomical, so which is which and how do you convert between the […]

via Understanding Seasons – Northern and Southern Hemisphere, Meteorological and Astronomical — Deep Green Permaculture

Risky play…

Australian broadcaster’s SBS Dateline No Rules School minidoc is a quick primer on risky play. Swanson School in Auckland, New Zealand is a place that kids the world over would overwhelmingly vote ‘best school ever’ and ‘school I’d most like to attend’. When our three young ones saw it, they couldn’t believe their eyes. If […]

via Swanson – World Capital for Risky Play in Public Schools — PlayGroundology

Layers of Colour…

Today’s Lake Michigan sunset was beautiful as layers of color filled the sky from blue to various shades of yellow, orange and gold over the darkening waves of the lake. Photo Copyright Jeffrey Foltice

via Layers of Color — Photo Nature Blog

Natural pest control techniques such as companion planting can control most of your small garden pests such as insects, but what can gardeners do about birds and animals? The seasonal event of birds and other critters stripping fruit trees clean is nothing new for farmers, but urban gardeners are now seeing more birds, rats, possums, […]

via Netting Fruit Trees for Pest Control — Deep Green Permaculture

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