Tag Archive: lettuce

Rhamnus alaternus

Rhamnus alaternus

‘Sow Lettuce, Alaternus, phillyrea seedes, Kirnels &c. and now begin to secure &  by little & little, as the season proves, withdraw your choicer & tender Greenes & prepare them for the Greene house.’

John Evelyn 1686 (published 1932)


  1. ‘Alaternus’ refers to Rhamnus alaternus, an evergreen shrub favoured by Evelyn in hedging, but which fell out of favour years later as being too labour intensive to maintain.

  2. ‘Phillyrea’ was another evergreen shrub of which Mary Keen says:

    ‘Gardeners of the 17th and 18th centuries, who were less spoilt than those of today, loved any tree or shrub that kept its leaves through winter. John Evelyn referred to evergreens as “Verdures, Perennial Greens and Perpetuall Springs”. Among the most highly regarded of these, and a front- rank treasure in the Georgian shrubbery, was phillyrea, often described as “of incomparable verdure”.

    It is rarely seen now, which is a pity. Phillyrea may no longer rate superstar treatment but it is both useful and attractive, making neat hedges, trees full of character and elegant backgrounds.

    A member of the olive family, phillyrea is sometimes known as evergreen privet. It is, however, both more distinguished than privet and less gloomy than conifers at this time of year because its leaves reflect rather than absorb light. Unlike a currently popular evergreen, box, it does not seem to be susceptible to blight and it has tiny, scented, greeny-white flowers, which appear in spring. (It is reminiscent of the popular shrub osmanthus, which also comes from the olive family.)…’

    3. Evelyn’s use of the words ‘Greene house’ appears to refer to its early use in protecting tender green(e)s. The first use of the words appears in the 1660’s and many other terms were used to refer to similar glazed constructions: conservatories, orangeries, botanical gardens etc.

Phillyrea latifolia

Phillyrea latifolia

Old School Gardener


primroses‘Sow Lettuce, Spinach – plant primroses, violets & such fibrous rootes.’

John Evelyn 1686 (published 1932)

Old School Gardener

WP_20150611_15_48_05_ProTwo weeks on and I was finally back in the Walled Garden at Blickling this week.

I arrived later than usual as I was giving a talk to a group called ‘Inspired Gardeners’ in Aylsham. 25 gardeners were inspired enough to turn up and hear me talk about Water Management in the Methodist Hall. What a splendid group they are, with my session but one in a packed programme of talks and garden visits to keep them on their (senior) toes! I’ll put together a precis of the Water Management talk and feature it in a future article.

The handful of other garden volunteers were hard at it weeding under the large Mulberry Tree in the Walled Garden, but I was detailed by Project Manager Mike to help him plant out some Pumpkins, the first things to go into the newly cultivated borders in the Walled Garden! The digging on one of the hottest days of the year so far certainly generated some perspiration, even after only half an hour, before we paused for lunch.

After lunch we pressed on and in total put in some 36 plants of different varieties. Mike’s thinking is to get something going in the new borders, even if it isn’t part of the full and final plan for the different spaces, just to get the ground covered and producing something; pumpkins with their ‘space invader’ habit are perfect for that.

After loosening up the bottom of each generous planting hole we filled them with plenty of farmyard manure, mixed this with loose soil and put in the well-watered plants, which had been inside the (very full) Greenhouse. We created a saucer-like depression around each mounded plant to encourage water gathering around the roots and then topped off each with some organic ‘rocket fuel’ and a generous mulch of more manure (having given each plant a good soaking).

Very satisfying seeing something going into the new borders, and hopefully it won’t be long before more things are introduced. Certainly the irrigation seems to have been fully installed and I gather the metal edging for the paths will be done in the next month or two as the other members of the gardening team have a little more time on their hands to help with this mammoth job.

I mentioned in my last post a rather lovely ‘artist’s impression’ of the regenerated Walled Garden and I’m grateful to Mike for sending me a copy, which I set out for you to see below. It was done by local artist Fiona Gowen.

Blickling Walled GardenA3 (2)Having a few minutes to spare I planted a few Basil and Lettuce plants near the front of the main cultivated strip of the Walled Garden, which all in all is starting to look very good, as the various vegetables and flowers are bulking out and putting on colour.

I also had the chance to see the beautiful, blousy Peonies which, two weeks on, were now getting fully into their stride.

Further Information:

Blickling Hall website

Blickling Hall Facebook page

A 360 degree tour of Blickling Hall

Old School Gardener


Lettuce_JPG‘Sow Lettuce, Raddish -‘

John Evelyn 1686 (published 1932)

Old School Gardener

Orange Tree in Terracotta Pot by Jose Escofet

Orange Tree in Terracotta Pot by Jose Escofet

‘Bring forth of the Greene-house the Oranges, lemons and most tender Ever- greenes, trim and refresh them, placing them in shade a fortnight, by degrees accostuming them to the sunn: sow also cabbage-seedes, Lettuce, French-beanes, Harricos &c.’

John Evelyn 1686 (published 1932)

Old School Gardener

Artichokes- now's the time to plant 'slips' or suckers, says Evelyn

Artichokes- now’s the time to plant ‘slips’ or suckers, says Evelyn

‘Set Artichok-slips, transplant cabages, sow Lettuce, clip hedges, & greenes; & sow the seedes of all hot sweete-herbs & plants.’

John Evelyn 1686 (published 1932)

Old School Gardener

Celery plugs‘Sow Endive, Succory, Chervil, Sellerie, purselan (which you may also continue sowing all the summer to have tender) leeks, Beetes, parsneps, salsifix, skirrits, Turneps &c. and now Cherish and Earth-up your flowers, and set stakes to the tallest: sow also lettuce.’

Grow lettuce- on a fence!

Grow lettuce- on a fence!

John Evelyn 1686 (published 1932)

OK, who knows what a skirrit is?!

Old School Gardener

urban lettuce patterns via urban gardens

The beauty of lettuce via Urban Gardens. Can this be both a practical way of growing food and ornamentation? Perhaps a brief moment of ‘peak display’ is followed by selective picking or plant removal?

Old School Gardener

Planting Patterns #1

A Lettuce swirl

Old School Gardener

PicPost: Lettuce Play

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