Archive for May, 2017

Last night (17 May) the National Trust was awarded a one-off Special Recognition Award at the prestigious Museums + Heritage Awards for Excellence. Nominated by a panel of expert judges made up of some of the heritage sector’s most senior leaders, the National Trust was rewarded for its creativity in visitor engagement, remarkable growth in […]

via National Trust scoops Special Recognition Award at the Museums + Heritage Awards for Excellence — National Trust Press Office




To Walter de Grasse

Dear Walter,

As you know I’ve a busy time coming up, travelling about the UK and to Australia, so this may have to be the last letter for a couple months that comments on my gardening life at home. Still, I hope that I can feature some of the places I’ll be visiting – I’m especially looking forward to seeing the many wonderful parks and gardens in Melbourne, Victoria.

Looking back over the past few weeks, a few things stand out. Despite large areas of ground elder remaining in Old School Garden  (it has been so dry I haven’t dared to try to remove any more – along with the plants of course), the garden areas immediately next to the house aren’t looking too bad. Some recent rain has also perked up the large number of plants that I’ve replanted.

In the last few days I’ve also added a few new specimens; two varieties of Veronicastrum (White and pale Pink)  and a Ligularia and Rodgersia in the pond garden. the kitchen garden is also starting to fill up, although, due to being away I’ve limited my sowings and have also gone for a green manure- Phacelia- in some of the beds. I’m especially pleased with the Courtyard Garden , where the Hostas and Candleabra Primula are doing their stuff. Hopefully the garden will survive a number of weeks without weeding and grass cutting and that we get enough rain for things- especially potted plants – to make it through.

Further afield, you may have heard about our latest ‘Groundforce Day’ over at the local churchyard. The new management policy of mowing paths though blocks of longer grass and wildflowers seems to be coming together nicely and a few days ago a few of us started to tackle the weeds and grass that has grown over the drainage strip of cobbles surrounding the church walls; it is satisfying seeing a tidy edge to the rather mole-ridden grass.

And I mustn’t forget that I’ve been spending quite a few hours online studying permaculture, via a course put on by Oregon State University and apparently being studied by over 10,000 people worldwide! This has been fascinating, with a good mix of videos, podcasts, online links and design exercises to put me through my paces. It’s been interesting comparing the Permaculture Design process with the more conventional process I’m used to, and having revisited the Concept Design for the Grow Organisation which I developed a few months ago as the focus of my study, I can see now ho permaculture principles and design processes have enriched my assessment of the site and helped me develop new angles on my earlier design; in putting greater emphasis on water harvesting and management for example.

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I was sorry to hear about your lingering ill health, old friend and wish you better soon. As the weather warms, try to get outside into that lovely garden of yours; it is bound to lift your spirits.. All the best for now and my next letter will come to you from somewhere in Australia!

Old School Gardener










Film making is a slow process but here, at last, is our second Sissinghurst film. This time it’s about the wonderful collection of irises we have in the garden, and how we are trying to find some of the irises that have been lost from the original collection that Vita and Harold created. We […]

via A New Film from Sissinghurst — SISSINGHURST GARDEN

Norwich Planter

I spotted this beautiful Sea Thrift grouping in a street planter near Norwich Castle the other day. I must say the City is doing great things with it’s roundabouts and street planting.

Old School Gardener

Messy oasis…

A compelling and moving illustration of the power of adventurous free play, now available online.

via A rare glimpse into a messy oasis of adventure play — Rethinking Childhood


Having thought I’d done my last stint at Blickling for a while, I was pleasantly surprised to be released from Jury Service for a couple of days, which meant I could pop along for a sunny morning.

It was a relatively easy-going few hours. I started by joining Project Manager Mike in pruning the cordon gooseberries being grown in the Walled Garden. They have come on well since planting last year and now needed side shoots trimming back and suckers removed along with a leader being tied in to continue to gain height before they are fully ready to fruit- I guess this will be next season.

Rory was already at work weeding over the neatly planted lettuce rows and he soon joined me as Mike went off to a meeting. We were soon joined by the two Peters who set to hoeing around the metal edges to remove the weeds in the beds and along the path edges. We exchange a few bits of news, including my frustrating few days waiting to be called to be a juror.

Mike had asked me to go round all the cordons and espaliers to check if their leaders needed tying in, and so it was another relatively light task- and one I really enjoy- to finish off by lunchtime…as I had to get over to the local church to cut the grass in the afternoon before the forecast rain descended. I was pleased to see that the metal arches along the main central path had all been welded into place, and Mike told me that he was waiting for the natural ‘bloom’ on the metal to fade before the job of painting this can be started.

As the other volunteers were weeding over in the Orangery  Garden I didn’t get to see them, but if they’re reading this I hope you’re all well and enjoying the sun! As I’m writing this I can now say that I’ve begun active jury service and have a very interesting case to ponder. This and holidays will probably mean that there’ll be no more Blickling for a few weeks…

Further Information:

Blickling Hall website

Blickling Hall Facebook page

A 360 degree tour of Blickling Hall

Old School Gardener







Mystical Jesuits…

We have a major weakness for a Portuguese pastry called “jesuita.” Its shape and color resemble the habits of Jesuit monks, hence the name. The “jesuita” was invented more than a century ago by a Spanish pastry chef who worked in Santo Tirso, a town in the north of Portugal. It combines puff pastry with […]

via Mystical jesuits — Salt of Portugal

Reggie’s Beans

I couldn’t resist sharing this wonderful picture of our friends’ son Reggie. Last Harvest time he came along to see me on my stall at the Harvest Festival event at the local church, where children (and adults) could sow a Broad Bean seed to take home in a pot, nurture on the windowsill and plant out in late autumn…here’s the result! (I must say it’s rather more impressive than my own efforts). Well done Reggie!

Old School Gardener


Windsor Cottage…

Looking back to a sunny summer’s day! Off down the A49 trunk road into Herefordshire for another visit to enjoy a fellow NGS, Yellow book garden. Windsor Cottage is near the village of Dilwyn and described as a wildlife friendly half-acre garden which has just completed a 5 year redesign. This proved to be […]

via Another Yellow Book Garden: Windsor Cottage — greenbenchramblings

Standen Restored…

A five year restoration project at one of the country’s most important Arts and Crafts gardens has been completed at the National Trust’s Standen in West Sussex. The impressive house at Standen, with its breath-taking views over the High Weald and Weir Wood Reservoir, was designed for James Beale and his family in the late […]

via 1920s Arts and Crafts garden returns to its heyday as five year restoration is completed at Standen — National Trust Press Office

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