Tag Archive: double borders

Back to a Wednesday for my latest session at Blickling, and I joined a num ber of fellow volunteers in the ‘Secret Garden’ for a tidy up.

We forked and hoed our way around the clumps of ferns, and other plants just coming into life and after a couple fo hours you could see we’d been, as barrow loads of leaves and a few weeds were consigned to a nearby trailer.

Just before lunch I went over to see how the Walled Garden was looking and found a few gardeners and volunteers well into concreting in the metal arches for the Apple Tunnel that had been awaiting its final positioning for a few weeks. I took the opportunity of sharing some pictures I’d taken of something similar at Gunby Hall, Lincolnshire, which I’d recently visited. This tunnel is made up of some pretty old timber arches and some very old apple trees, quite an impressive sight (I’ll share more of Gunby Hall in a further post, soon).

After lunch I spent an hour helping tidy up a narrow border to the side of the house, where, amongst other things a ‘Chocolate Vine’ had managed to grow along and up the walls, in a very haphazard manner…I decided to leave it intact rather than lose a lot of the growth, but we managed to remove a lot of dead leaves and cut back a few of the more straggly stems on a Cotoneaster.. As I signed out and passed through the double borders, the tulips were really coming into their own…

Further Information:

Blickling Hall website

Blickling Hall Facebook page

A 360 degree tour of Blickling Hall

Old School Gardener




wp_20170202_11_40_17_proMy first New Year session at Blickling was just a morning. Just recovering (hopefully) from an inflamed hip I wanted to ease myself back into physical work gradually.It was a lovely bright morning after a foggy start, I had a warm (if ‘bantered’) welcome back from the gardeners and volunteers and it was great to be back.

Gardener Rob was in the course of trimming the yew hedging around the double borders, so I set to raking up and dumping the cuttings in a trailer for later disposal. Over a number of years these cuttings (and especially those gathered in the summer season), have been sold off to a company which turns them (or rather more specifically the oil/resin they contain) into cancer fighting drugs- all the way from Italy. Rob told me that in recent years sales have been dropping off and the money received has also been reducing as the company now has it’s own yew plantations.

I may have mentioned before that the yew used to surround the double borders (Taxus baccata) should eventually grow to form a dense hedge that can be cut to the traditional sharp-edged shapes reminiscent of many ‘heritage gardens’. however, there is a bit of doubt about the purity of the variety we have here, as the Trust’s gardens advisor thought it might be from a commercially-developed strain which is less dense. Certainly here at Blickling after about ten years growth, whilst there are some nice thick areas, there are also patches where holes are evident. Hopefully with continuous trimming new, short growth will sprout and so eventually we’ll get the full effect anticipated.

In any event the carefully cut returns on the hedges- shaped using templates to mirror the gables on the windows in the House- are starting to look nicely defined-see the pictures below. Rob was also having to measure the heights of the hedging as the land slopes upwards towards the end, meaning to keep the whole thing looking visually right he would need to progressively shorten the height of the hedge (and so the top facet of the sculpted returns would be lost at the end).

As we progressed through the morning Rob and I discussed ideas for improving the ‘Black Garden’ which sits at one end of the double borders, from where there is a ‘classic’ view of Blickling, taking in the House, parterre and lake beyond (see pictures below). This area suffers from a definite slope and this and a lack of continuity of the hedging and edging helps to divorce it from the double borders. Ideas include trying to more closely tie it into the rest of the area by repeating a circular gravelled area (which needs to be wide enough to allow a tractor and trailer to turn), and repositioning the large seat from where you get the ‘classic’ view. I think levelling the space is important and I like the idea of tying it into the rest of the double borders, but it will be tricky trying to get paths to fit visually and to meet the practical needs of the gardeners. I gather that there’s also the possibility of a viewing tower being erected nearby which would also afford wonderful views over the parterre and the wider estate. It will be interesting to see some designs on paper.

Well, my morning went by and my leg caused me no problems, so hopefully I can gradually build up my strength once more and get back to longer sessions here- and in my own garden.

Further Information:

Blickling Hall website

Blickling Hall Facebook page

A 360 degree tour of Blickling Hall

Old School Gardener


WP_20151112_14_20_33_ProThe ‘dynamic duo’ of Peter and I continued with strimming the avenues and connecting paths in the outer gardens at Blickling this week.

I arrived to find the gardeners and Peter gathered around a large, new trailer which had just been delivered. I later looked this over and had an interesting discussion about its features and how useful an addition it was going to be to the gardeners’ armoury….

Hmm...big, shiny, but how useful?

Hmm…big, shiny….

The ladies, meanwhile were finishing off cutting back and clearing the double borders, which only a few weeks ago had been resplendent in their late summer colours.

Cutting back the double borders on a beautiful autumn day

Cutting back the double borders on a beautiful autumn day

Having adjusted the belt on the strimmer I found I was really getting into my stride (or should I say ‘swing’?) with this useful machine- it was rather like old-time scything but without the muscle power needed for that. However, it was sweaty work clearing around trees and the edges of shrubs  where the mowers can’t reach.

After lunch I had an interesting chat with gardener Ed and Peter about the way the avenues of Beech, Oak and other trees have to be regularly cleared of fast-growing understorey trees and shrubs such as holly, yew and rhododendrons. The impact of letting these plants over grow the trees was evident in the bent over trunks of some examples (or ‘on the huh’ as we say in Norfolk!).

The maintenance plan involves every year or so stooling (or coppicing) these vigourous plants and so maintaining  space around the avenue trees. As Ed pointed out, there are some clear examples of where action is going to be required in the near future, so perhaps Peter and I will be moved on to chain saws soon!

Blickling has a new website, why not take a look at the link below?

A virtually deserted garden at a sun-scanned Blickling..

A virtually deserted garden at a sun-scanned Blickling..

Further Information:

Blickling Hall website

Blickling Hall Facebook page

A 360 degree tour of Blickling Hall

Old School Gardener


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