Tag Archive: hellebores

I joined the Wednesday volunteers for my latest session at Blickling. The task? Planting around 400 Hellebores in the Orangery Garden and Dell!

I seems like an annual ritual as we put in a large number of new plants…these add to those previously set down, a number of which don’t seem to  survive, especially in the Dell, where it’s probably rather dry on the banks.

The Orangery Garden has a woodland glade feel to it, as there are a number of large trees providing shade and a woodland habitat. Here the Hellebores seem to do better, and in my opinion, look better, as they’re in groups by colour range and make a big impression alongside spring bulbs just coming into flower such as Snowdrops.

In this area the Daphne bohlua ‘Jacqueline Postill’ was also in flower, and more importantly, in scent. It’s heady fragrance permeated the garden and visitors all remarked on it.

The planting here was a little easier being on level ground. after lunch we set about planting in the Dell where it ‘s a different story. Steep slopes are the main planting area, but here the impact is rather less, as the plants are spread out and dotted in amongst other greenery and fallen leaves, so the flower colour is rather more muted.

I wonder that the practice of replanting every year is continued, as nature is surely saying something about the choice of location, if so many don’t survive. Better to plant other things that tolerate dry shade, perhaps; e.g. Cyclamen hederifolium?

Further Information:

Blickling Hall website

Blickling Hall Facebook page

A 360 degree tour of Blickling Hall

Old School Gardener



Blickling Hall and The Parterre looking splendid in a low winter sun

Blickling Hall and The Parterre looking splendid in a low winter sun

I worked with the ladies away from the Walled Garden in my latest Blickling session. The Dell was our target- a bit of ‘TLC’ with light weeding and clearing dead stems and leaves to reveal the wonderful Snowdrops and Hellebores.

Head Gardener, Paul tells me that the slopes here are not conducive to the Hellebores rooting, so its an annual task to plant up new ones. Paul says some terracing is needed. I think this would need to be done quite subtly, as it could spoil the natural look of the space.

We worked around the sloping sides of the Dell – well I kept to the top path and the slightly less pernickety areas. The lady volunteers seem to have the finger skills and eyesight needed to tease out the weeds from around the plants and at one stage looked like (in the nicest possible way), a herd of mountain goats stretched up the slope. I contented myself with the more straightforward leaf raking, limited weeding and path clearing work above, as well as emptying weed-full trugs into the waiting trailer.

A major milestone has been reached this week in the walled garden. Project Manager Mike reports that all of the metal posts (76 of them in total) have now been installed, so we now wait on wires going in and then fruit tree planting in a few weeks time.

Posts all in- 76 have been set into concrete around the walled garden. Picture Blickling Estate

Posts all in- 76 have been set into concrete around the walled garden. Picture Blickling Estate

Oh, and my wife and I paid a visit to the gardens on Sunday, where we indulged in one of the restaurant’s special Valentine’s Day Cake Platters…

WP_20160214_15_32_46_ProFurther Information:

Blickling Hall website

Blickling Hall Facebook page

A 360 degree tour of Blickling Hall

Old School Gardener


Hellebores one of a few winter flowers currently on show...

Hellebores one of a few winter flowers currently on show…

Old School Garden – 29th January 2016

Dear Walter,

I looked back at the letter I wrote you this time last year, just out of interest. Even though that letter (written from a snowy landscape), painted a picture of relative inactivity, I did at least have potatoes chitting and the first seeds germinated. Alas, even though the weather has been mild (if a bit wet) I seem to be way behind this year.

I do NOT have potatoes chitting (I’m waiting on my friend who’s ordered the seed potatoes this year) and I do NOT have seeds sprouting (I brought the propagators in yesterday along with the seed box for sorting through).

I am looking forward to seed sowing though. Apart from some interesting perennials I bought at a National Trust Garden in the summer, I’m waiting on my selection of seeds from the RHS Seed scheme. These, with early vegetables (I planned out this year’s crops for the Kitchen Garden before Christmas) will give me a lot of seed sowing and seedling potting activity in the coming weeks….

Apart from NOT doing the things I needed to, I HAVE done a few other garden related things. As you know, I’ve been constructing some cupboards in two alcoves in our entrance hall. I’m rather pleased with the result. I bought some solid oak cupboard doors and sourced some oak framing and tops from a local timber merchant (the smell of freshly cut oak in the car on the way home was delightful). These are now finished and being repopulated with photo albums, sewing machines and other stuff… and I’m pleased with the result, and not a little surprised at my own skill level (YouTube ‘How to’ videos are a wonderful invention).

One of two new cupboards I've been building from solid oak...

One of two new cupboards I’ve been building from solid oak…

Well, I was left with a few pieces of spare wood, and had begun making a key cabinet to also go in the entrance hall, but upon putting this together using glued dowels I discovered my skill level wasn’t quite up to that challenge and also concluded that the thickness of the wood looked out of place for such a small item….So, having abandoned that project I had a lightbulb moment and decided to adapt the three sided box I had into a ‘bug hotel’, with a focus on nesting places for solitary bees and the like. Here’s the result…

One Bug Hotel!

One Bug Hotel!

It is rather heavy, but certainly solid. I’ve used a selection of old canes, some willow plant support and an old bamboo window blind, cut to fit and jammed together. I’ll now need to finalise where to put it up. I gather it needs to be in a warm sunny spot at least a metre off the ground. I may try to fix this to the fruit fence in the Kitchen Garden; this is the place where effective pollination is especially important.

Oh, and I nearly forgot that I’ve tied in the summer raspberries – at last! I’ve pruned the apple trees and vine. I’ve also finally dug up the dahlias and apart from a little tuber rot, these seem to be OK, so they are currently drying off in the greenhouse and will be put into slightly damp, second hand compost shortly, to stay under cover until they are ready to plant out later in the season. I also dug up two Osteospermums and put these in pots inside, as I think they might be prone to dying off before the end of the winter if left outside.

I’m pleased to say that my new Garden Design Course, ‘Get More From Your Garden’ looks like it will run as I have achieved the minimum number needed to make it viable, so I’m looking forward to meeting this new group of people and using the wonderful venue at Blickling Hall to explore and develop their own design projects.

Deborah and I have followed your lead and joined our newly established, local U3A (‘University of the Third Age’) group in Aylsham. We went along to a fascinating talk about ‘PAT’ (Pets As Therapy) dogs yesterday, the ones used in schools to help shy children learn to read, as companions for older or disabled people and so on. I’ve also joined a new gardening group and met the dozen or so other people in the group last week for an initial get together to discuss what we want to achieve. It looks like this could include visiting each other’s gardens to discuss problems and ideas, swapping plants, visiting open gardens etc.

An ahhhh moment...

An ahhhh moment…

So, I look back. And whilst I’m behind in some garden-related things, hopefully there’s still time to catch up (especially with the seed sowing). I’m pleased to hear that your new terrace has been laid and look forward to seeing it when we visit you and Lise at Easter. No doubt you’ll be planting up the pockets you left amongst the paving soon?

all the best for now,

Old School Gardener



WP_20150212_15_36_39_ProMy latest session of voluntary gardening at Blickling Hall focused on the Winter Garden and Dell once more- my there are a lot of leaves out there!

We volunteers continued to clear and tidy the Dell and Winter Garden. I had the pleasure of planting some wonderful pale yellow Hellebores to bulk up the flower show in the Winter Garden with Joan, my ‘planting partner’  for the day. I also got a few blisters from forking over the borders around the trees and shrubs, but it was well worth it- several visitors commented very positively.

I’m now away from Blickling for a couple of weeks, but I’m continuing my voluntary gardening at Gressenhall from next week, beginning the ‘pre opening’ tidy up.

 Further information:

Blickling Hall website

Blickling Hall Facebook page

A 360 degree tour of Blickling Hall

Old School Gardener


WP_20150122_12_03_53_ProMy latest session as a volunteer gardener with the National Trust at Blickling Hall involved working in another area of the gardens- the Winter Garden, which I think was planted up a few years ago as an area to feature colourful stems, fragrance and flowers at this quiet time of the year in the garden.

Work in the Walled Garden has been continuing, however, and with a few frosty nights it has been possible to move and spread the rest of the farmyard manure over the beds. As you can see below, this has helped to give definition to these planting areas…

Muck spreading in the Walled Garden- get to work worms! Picture: Michael Owers

Muck spreading in the Walled Garden- get to work worms! Picture: Michael Owers

For gardener Rebecca, me and the other ‘Thursday volunteers’, this week involved raking off a thick quilt of Sweet Chestnut and other leaves, tidying up spent stems and foliage and sprucing up the Hellebores…. as well as uncovering the first snowdrops. When I say ‘quilt’ I’m not joking – I just hope the plants underneath haven’t been as shocked as I have been, recently, emerging from under my own quilt in the frosty mornings!

So, for me the day that was spent almost entirely raking and loading leaves into trailers to be carried away for turning into leaf mould. Definitely one that required a ‘Radox Bath’ on my return home!

Even though it was repetitive work, it was also very satisfying, showing off this lovely garden with its over-arching trees and understory of shrubs and winter perennials- and hopefully giving some of the plants a good chance to ‘pick up’ as the seasons move on.

Further information:

Blickling Hall website

Blickling Hall Facebook page

A 360 degree tour of Blickling Hall

Old School Gardener


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