Tag Archive: double digging


Hyacinth 'Blue Jacket' putting on a show- and fragrance

Hyacinth ‘Blue Jacket’ putting on a show- and fragrance

Another Wednesday session this week at Blickling, and, you guessed it, more spade work!

It was a showery day, so the waterproof was never far away…at one point we had an almost horizontal driving shower of hail to contend with. Anyway, my first job in the Walled Garden was to dig a trench (and half) with my fellow volunteers to provide a temporary home for a rather large number of Black Mongo Grass (Ophiopogon) plants which had been removed from the Black Garden.

I’d noticed a digger hard at work in this important area near the Double borders; I’m pleased to say that the grass (or rather mud) surface of this area was being replaced with gravel and a slight remodelling was underway too. This area is heavily trafficked and the grass surface soon cuts up over the season, so something tougher is required.

The Mongo Grass provide an important ‘floor’ to the planting here which features spring tulips and summer Black Elder amongst other ‘black’ plants. It is also home to a large bench which provides one of the best views at Blickling across the parterre, towards the Hall and the Lake beyond.

There were plenty of plants to place out and some of the other volunteers helped Gardener Rebecca pot some up for sale. I’d also noticed a large number of potted Roses, recently delivered and waiting placing out to fill gaps in the Rose Garden.

Plenty of roses waiting to be planted out in the Rose Garden

Plenty of roses waiting to be planted out in the Rose Garden

After this work- the plants didn’t require any special watering in as the rain came and went- we turned our attention to preparing the ground for the raspberries, blackcurrants, redcurrants and gooseberries that will occupy a quarter of the walled garden.

All is mucked in... forked over lines for soft fruit in the Walled Garden

All is mucked in… forked over lines for soft fruit in the Walled Garden

So having moved the piles of muck from the other side of the garden a few weeks ago, we now moved it (again) along lines that Mike had set out; to finish off we incorporated this into the top soil and so the ground is ready for planting. A digger had already been here to deep dig the soil, so, though I was still digging and forking this week, I managed to avoid yet more double digging!

The first Tulips are starting to show in the double borders

The first Tulips are starting to show in the double borders

Further Information:

Blickling Hall website

Blickling Hall Facebook page

A 360 degree tour of Blickling Hall

Old School Gardener

 

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This week's efforts- double digging in the Walled Garden

This week’s efforts- double digging in the Walled Garden

Back to Thursday this week at Blickling, so it was good to see the rest of that day’s volunteer team again.

On my way into the gardens I noticed an orange MG spots car and some people filming- apparently it was for an edition of  ‘Antiques Road Trip’ due to be aired on BBC TV in the autumn.

After our initial meet up in the bothy (the old one) I didn’t see much of the others apart from Norfolk Peter, who joined me in double digging one of the beds in the Walled Garden.

Penstemons potted up- just a few

Penstemons potted up- just a few

The rest of the team were potting up Penstemons prior to their planting out next to the double borders (once the Hyacinths have gone over). I was also pleased to see that a lot of new plants were nestling in the old cold frames along side the glasshouses, all showing their first leaves and promising a good summer show.

After about 4 hours digging Peter and I had finished about a half of one quarter of one quarter of the walled garden! The soil is a bit of a clayey loam and quite stony (it was a car park for a time, I think), so it was a bit harder going than on my sandy loam at home. Having said this, I suppose I ought to subtract the trenches Aussie Peter and I dug a few weeks ago for the trained fruit…

Norfolk Peter resting on his spade after a hard day's digging

Norfolk Peter resting on his spade after a hard day’s digging

Anyway, I think that means we completed about a thirty second of the total area, excluding the side borders. Whilst some areas will be trenched rather than completely double dug, and I think Project Manager Mike is not planning to bring all of the garden into full cultivation this season, that still leaves quite a bit to do…hopefully our fellow volunteers on other days will make a contribution, otherwise I will have to plead to be put onto ‘light duties’!

Further Information:

Blickling Hall website

Blickling Hall Facebook page

A 360 degree tour of Blickling Hall

Old School Gardener

 

WP_20160303_12_57_32_ProThe pace is quickening in the Walled Garden at Blickling. Having missed a session, I returned to discover the second Glasshouse restored and looking wonderful, with work to install the cold frames under way.

Cold Frames under contruction

Cold Frames under construction

I discovered that in my absence my fellow volunteers – ‘Aussie’ Pete and ‘Norfolk’ Pete – had been busy painting the metal posts that will carry wires for trained fruit.

Aussie Peter getting to grips with the painting

Aussie Peter getting to grips with the painting

In my latest session Aussie P continued with this, whilst Norfolk P and I finished off double digging between these posts in preparation for the fruit bush planting.

Project Manager Mike was well into asembling the wires, including the straining bolts that enable them to be tensioned.

And in the new bothy, work was underway to fit a new kitchen. In here I also saw a wonderful carved oak panel that will sit atop the oak noticeboard installed near the entrance, installed some weeks ago.

Sneak preview...part of the carved oak rail to be set atop the new noticeboard

Sneak preview…part of the carved oak rail to be set atop the new noticeboard

A new kitchen for the new bothy

A new kitchen for the new bothy

Whilst we three set to in the walled garden the remaining volunteers went about cutting back and tidying the borders around the moat to the house, which contain a bank of perennial Fuchsias.

After lunch it was a case of ‘all hands  to the wheel’.

As the house was due to open in a couple of days a big effort was needed to clear away the excavations that have been underway to install the Lake Source Heat  system I reported on a few weeks ago.

Along with a digger, tractor and trailer, which were used to remove some sloppy spoil, we loaded barrows and filled in a trench with crushed concrete, which was later smoothed nad compacted before having gravel spread to restore the pathway near the House.

Intense activity in a confined space...restoriung a path near the house

Intense activity in a confined space…restoriung a path near the house

Serious ‘Yakka’ once more, but a satisfying bit of work as the gardening staff and volunteers pulled together amidst the usual banter….

Further Information:

Blickling Hall website

Blickling Hall Facebook page

A 360 degree tour of Blickling Hall

Old School Gardener

 

The newly refurbished Bothy is nearing completion; a home for gardening volunteers, office and shop for the produce to come

The newly refurbished Bothy is nearing completion; a home for gardening volunteers, office and shop for the produce to come

I worked with recent volunteer recruit, Peter (another Peter, this one with an Australian accent), in this week’s voluntary gardening at Blickling. Whilst the other Peter got on with some welding of the metal edging in the walled garden, ‘Aussie’ Peter and I double dug some stretches of soil where new fruit bushes will be planted and trained into espaliers along wires.

Not much evidence of our hard wrok, but these stretches of soil are now ready to be planted up with fruit trees

Not much evidence of our hard work, but these stretches of soil are now ready to be planted up with fruit trees

The rest of the volunteers did some more tidying of the borders in the Orangery Garden. To the crackle of welding torch and a digger (driven by ‘Dud’), which Mike had got in to dig over the surface of the top beds, Peter and I got into some serious ‘Yakka’, as Peter called it.

I gather this is an aboriginal term for ‘hard work’. Well it was. Not helped by a slight back ache I’d had for a few days (after overloading the firewood basket at home). Still, we soon got into a rhythm and entered ‘into the zone’- that wonderful mental state where the unconscious mind takes over and you do things on ‘autopilot’. But this didn’t stop us having a good natter, exchanging life and family backgrounds, football and so on.

Meanwhile Project Manager, Mike and Gardener Rob were trying to install some of the remaining metal edging alongside the northern border, which the other Peter duly helped cut up into the right lengths.

A couple of days earlier I’d attended the Blickling ‘Mid Winter Meeting’ at the local High School. This is an opportunity for staff and volunteers to hear from Heads of department about plans for the coming season (the House reopens on 5th March). I thoroughly enjoyed this event, which had some fun, unusual and inspiring talks to get us fired up for the year to come.

My wife has been sorting out our family photos and similar stuff, and came across this old postcard of Blickling among several I’d bought many years ago. I think it dates from 1907  – and includes a brief, cryptic message to a ‘Maude Meachen’ together with franked Edward VII stamp. It shows the rather fussy parterre before its major redesign in the 1930’s – see how small the Yew trees are, which today are the huge ‘acorns’ that are the major structural element in todays garden.

Further Information:

Blickling Hall website

Blickling Hall Facebook page

A 360 degree tour of Blickling Hall

Old School Gardener

 

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