Molehills seem to be springing up at a rate of knots in Old School Garden!
Molehills seem to be springing up at a rate of knots in Old School Garden!

Letter from Old School Garden 23rd December 2013

Dear Walter,

As I write this a major storm is sweeping across the country,disrupting travel, cutting power from homes and maybe even bringing further local flooding. I hope that you aren’t in danger from this.Fortunately we seem to be missing the worst of it, but nevetheless the winds are ferocious and I’m wondering if we can complete out planned Christmas family gathering later today, as I’m due to collect my eldest daughter and her boy friend from Norwich Station. Let’s hope they are able to get a train before the cancellations set it in at 5pm.

Setting the current ‘excitement’ aside, it’s been a pretty quiet time here at Old School Garden in recent weeks. I’ve been collecting Physalis fruit, Rose hips and Crab apples (‘Red Sentinel’) for festive decorations and rather good they look too. The other day I was pleased to discover that my local nursery had its supply of seed potatoes in, so rather than wait and possibly miss out on my favourite variety (‘Charlotte’), I bought a bag of these and one of Maris Bard (second and first earlies respectively). Once Christmas is over I’ll be setting these out on trays to ‘chit’ (sprout).

Festive Decoration- Physalis
Festive Decoration- Physalis

We’ve also had some new french doors fitted and I managed to grab the old glazed doors which I hope to use for cloches to warm the soil/protect tender crops in the new season. I really haven’t done as much as I’d hoped in the garden this past few weeks. As I said last month, the weather has been quite mild so I should have taken advantage of this to move things around, but all I’ve managed to do is extend a border and moved a few perennials to here and one or two other places. I still have some larger clumps of Achillea and Echinops to split and move.

I’ve just about managed to keep on top of leaf collection, but have noticed how the grass has kept growing, so at some point I shall have to venture out with the mower to keep it to a reasonable height. Having said this, mole hills seem to appear almost as I’m clearing the old ones away!

The last month has seen some gorgeous autumn colour- the Euphorbia palustris was especially brilliant, and I’m looking forward to seeing the various groups of Dogwoods as their bright stems liven up the winter garden.

Red Sentinel crab apples
Red Sentinel crab apples

The greenhouse is now fully set up with electric heater, insulation and tender plants all in- though I’ve still to get the Dahlias properly potted up for winter. I’ve ordered some flower seeds and these have arrived. I’ve gone for few more exotic- looking varieties of flowers this year and also some extras which I’ll use for an extended ornamental area in kitchen garden. I’ll turn to more detailed planning of these areas and my propagation schedule in the next week or two. I’ve also re-potted some house plants and I’m trying to care for these a little better, by thinking about their placement and trying not to over water them!

On the wider front, I’ve been approached by a Norfolk High School about tutoring a group of students on the School gardening plot, probably for a couple of sessions a week.This sounds interesting and something I’m keen to do, so will be visiting the School garden in early January to discuss plans in more detail. Meanwhile, I’ve continued to help at my local primary school. The mild weather has meant that we managed to plant out some leek ‘survivors’ from a sowing earlier in the year- hopefully it will remain mild enough for them to get settled. The children have also been busy collecting a lot of leaves for leaf mould. I’ll probably be back with them after February half term to get on with some seed sowing, amongst other things

Rose hips
Rose hips

I’ve also heard that I may have a new garden design commission in the New Year and I’ve agreed to meet up with the Head Gardener at nearby Salle Park Gardens to discuss her plans for turning over a portion of their 2 acre walled garden to ornamental rather than food production ( a bit like my own plans but on a much larger scale!).

As I mentioned last month my courses in Garden Design and Grow Your Own Food seem to have been successful and I’m hoping that we can run another set beginning in February, though once more subject to numbers of course.

Well, old friend I hope that you and Lise are safe in this rough weather and that you have a wonderful Christmas time with your family, tucked up in that lovely old house of yours. All the best to you and them at this special time and here’s to a productive gardening year in 2014!

Old School Gardener

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