Tag Archive: norfolk


To Walter de Grasse

Dear Walter,

I hope you and Lise are well. I’ve had a good month in Old School Garden…though having neglected the weeding for a year or two, I’m now paying the price.

I’ve managed to put in a good few hours digging up the borders nearest to the house, removing ground elder and replanting (as well as dividing) the plants. It’s been a bit late I know, but most of the re-plants seem to be recovering from the shock of being dug up. I’ve planted up the two front-door pots with a purple-leaved Hebe called ‘True Love’…and I’m pleased to see the first flowers on the Candelabra Primulas I’ve grown from seed, a nice purply-pink..

 I’m about to plant my second early potatoes (later than usual to try to time them for our return form a long trip to Australia), and the Phacelia I sowed a few weeks ago, as a green manure, seems to be coming on.  I’m also pleased to report a good lot of blossom on the fruit trees, some of which I gave a heavy prune a few months ago. Let’s hope the bees do their job and we don’t get caught by a late frost. Tomorrow I’ll be putting the potatoes in and netting the strawberries, before the deer get in and nibble off the tops.

Plot for potatoes dug over..

I’ve also been doing  a little hoeing, and as one of my blog followers was interested in what my Wolf hoe looks like here’s a picture…definitely one of my favourite garden tools.

The Wolf hoe

We’ve just returned from a very enjoyable trip to the North west to visit our friends Nick and Felicity, and part of this was spent on a very enjoyable visit to Tatton Park, where I was blown away by the quality of the place and especially the Japanese Ggarden…I’ll post a few pictures on this trip soon.

I’m also pleased to report practical progress at the Grow Project in Norwich, where an enthusiastic team is getting some growing beds in place by using straw bales in what will be the Trials area in due course.

The next few months (through a combination of Green Flag Award judging, Jury Service, holidays and a six week trip to Australia) will see me with little time in the Garden, but hopefully I’ve done enough to keep it in reasonable shape until another burst of clearing and tidying (as well as my major push on restructuring the Kitchen Garden), towards late summer/autumn. Hopefully we can get over to see you at some point!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Old School Gardener

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

At Blickling this week it was a case of more hoeing, or rather using the rather neat three-pronged cultivator to get under the crusted soil to loosen a rather extensive spread of weeds.

I joined Norfolk Peter in the Walled Garden where he was weeding alongside one of the glasshouses. Once again I was working in the side beds where nothing much is growing at present apart from a few lines of herbaceous flowers. By lunch time I had turned over a good area and attacked another with a border fork, as the weeds were rather more deeply rooted.

Nicely hoed beds…

I also noticed that some rather smart new hose reels have ben fixed around the walled garden which certainly tidies up areas where hoses had been more casually left lying, so removing a potential trip hazard.

I planned to return after lunch to rake off the loosened weeds and to knock down the forked area to enable the weeds in this area to be removed. However, on our way back to the Bothy we met Head Gardener Paul, who, in his usual cheery way, asked how we were and thanked us for what we were doing. He had also received my submission for the planned Tree trail we had discussed a few months before and wanted to discuss the next steps with me and Assistant Head Gardener Steve, after lunch.

We initially planned to cover thirty trees in the gardens with a small amount of interesting information on small boards placed next to each tree. I had researched all of these and also produce d a mock-up of a couple- here’s one example …

I’d given a copy of the thirty sets of text to Aussie Peter, who is also a Garden Guide, to see if he could add any interesting local information to what I’d found online; he said over lunch he’d send me a few thoughts, but that the overall proposals seemed fine..so that was encouraging. He also offered to carry on where I’d left off on the weeding to allow me to see Paul and Steve.

The meeting was useful and we explored different ways of presenting the information; either next to each tree or in leaflet form, as well as other options, like using mobile phones to capture codes at each location to enable an audio guide to be accessed. I favour beginning with simple foam back boards fixed to posts at each tree (and we also plan to add a stamp at each of the posts for 6 or 7 common leaf shapes for children to print out on their trail leaflet).

We might be able to convert the posts (I’m suggesting 3″ square oak sourced from the estate, with a sloping top) should an alternative approach be better, e.g. just having a number and name at each tree, with the buk of othe rinformation provided ona leaflet.  We agreed that the next step would be to meet up with those responsible for visitor attractions and marketing at Blickling to nail down the final plan, something we’ll hopefully do in a couple of weeks. Perhaps the trail will be installed by Autumn, which should add another interesting feature for the gardens over the quieter months.

As I left the other volunteers were weeding amidst the double borders, where, once again, the Tulips in the double borders were looking great, as are those in the White Border to the side…

Further Information:

Blickling Hall website

Blickling Hall Facebook page

A 360 degree tour of Blickling Hall

Old School Gardener

Save

Save

Save

Save

My latest session at Blickling was mainly spent hoeing between some of the side beds in the Walled Garden, alongside Aussie Peter, and we also spent time harvesting rhubarb for sale by donations.

I do enjoy hoeing, especially using the Wolf hoes that we now have . I also have one of these at home and I think it must be my favourite tool (well it at least pushes the hand fork for first place)- it’s a joy pushing and pulling and getting an effective result both ways with the two cutting blades.

I was also pleased to see the result of my (and others’) tulip planting last autumn- there are soem splendid rows of very blousy blooms (see above). Having hoed we harvested the rhubarb. Some stalks must have been as thick as my wrist, and we managed to sell off nearly two crate loads by the end of the day. I don’t think peter had harvested rhubarb before as he set about two plants with such enthusiasm that only a few straggly stalks were left before Project Manager mike noticed and advised to pull rather less per plant! (you can see our respective results in the picture below- ‘Peter’s plants’ are the two stumps in the foreground).

Still, no harm done, as the roots are pretty substantial. The other volunteers were involved in potting on tomato plants, and Peter and I occasionally paused to mix some compost for them. Meanwhile Norfolk peter and Mike were doing some remedial works on some of the irrigation points which had become rather sunk as the soil level around them has built up. It was a reasonably simple job of lifting them up and fixing them in a new wooden case.

There had also been progress elsewhere in the Walled Garden, as some new volunteers with a building background had begun installing the hard surfacing beneath the benches , which Mike says will make mowing the grass a lot easier! Progress continues on the central pergola or apple tunnel, with the arches now fixed in place and the bottom rails also welded on. The rest to follow shortly….

And another bit of progress as the roses that have been temporarily stored in pots on one area of the Walled Garden have bene relocated to the small garden at the back of the Walled Garden- a lovely little enclosed space, just perfect for plant storage until the time comes for it to be properly used…perhaps as a bee hive area, according to Mike.

The tulips in the double borders are also coming to their peak, so enjoy a few pics of these and our rhubarb exploits to close….

Further Information:

Blickling Hall website

Blickling Hall Facebook page

A 360 degree tour of Blickling Hall

Old School Gardener

Save

Save

Save

Save

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

Save

Save

I was in early on this Thursday session at Blickling as I had to be off by lunch time. Fell0w volunteer Rory and I were sent off to a new area (for me); known as ‘the Parade’ it lies near the lake and offers an alternative route to the walled Garden.

We set about raking and piling up lots of small sticks that the storm ‘Doris’ had broken off the mature trees lining the path. On the way Rory pointed out a mother duck (or maybe it was a goose) and her three fluffy ducklings… apparently the day before there had been four, so perhaps Mr. Fox had been in and done his worst?

It took us an hour to complete the task, so now the gardening team can cut the grass here without messing it (and their mowers) up. on my way back towards the house I spotted Norfolk Peter who was on his way to the Walled Garden. He took time to show me the work being done on the small brick building that houses a water wheel which I think is somehow connected to the lake water supply and also disposing of the house grey water. Apparently plans are to put in steps so that visitors can go down and see the wheel in operation, another feature to provide some interest.

The water wheel building..in progress

After a quick trip to the Walled Garden, where the apple tunnel is currently being installed, we went to join the other volunteers in the Moat for a tidy up. I edged some grass, pruned a Buddleia and helped Aussie Peter lift out some sedge grass that was starting to take over one corner of this special area.

The moat looks very neat and tidy and it’s a shame that visitors don’t venture down into it to get a better look…that reminds me, I discussed the idea of putting up some signs to encourage visitors down here with Head Gardner Paul, some time ago in the context of the planned Tree Trail. I must remember to include this in our forthcoming discussion about the Trail, which begins with the Magnolia grandiflora that’s trained up the front wall of the house from the moat below.

Further Information:

Blickling Hall website

Blickling Hall Facebook page

A 360 degree tour of Blickling Hall

Old School Gardener

Save

Save

Save

Save

To Walter de Grasse

Dear Walter,

This has been a month of really ‘getting going’ in Old School Garden. My hip and back have held up well so I’ve gradually increased my labouring times in the garden…I managed about 8 hours yesterday!

Whilst I’ve made inroads into the weeding- not an easy task with ground elder entangled ‘big time’ among the borders- it’s also been a time of upheaval, especially in the Kitchen Garden.

Here I’ve commenced my major reorganisation by removing the various trellises and posts – for reuse in a different position. I’ve also planted out a new row of summer fruiting raspberries and relocated a row of autumn fruiting too. At the same time the currant bushes and gooseberries have all been moved around, so the new grand plan is taking shape.

Relocated summer raspberries

I plan to use the trellis to more clearly separate off the Kitchen Garden and at the same time create an arched entrance which will be repeated along the sides of the first beds to create a rose walkway- I’ve recently bought six ‘Compassion’ climbing roses which I’m looking forward to seeing clamber up wooden uprights and along either a wooden bar or perhaps a rope swag.

In destructive mode (or perhaps ‘reconstructive’ would be better?) I’ve also removed the three old stumps of a large Ash tree that once overlooked the kitchen garden and which latterly have become clothed in ivy that has got out of hand. I must say the area looks a lot neater and will also open up a corner of the kitchen garden to more light too. It was facinating seeing how the process of decay has taken hold of the inner core of these stumps and how the material gradually reverts to something resembling soil…along with innumerable chrysalis’ of beetles and other rotting wood feeding critters.

With the warmer weather and longer days, this is the time to really get stuck into the garden, so I hope that you and Ferdy are also enjoying yourselves in your beautiful plot. I cut the grass here for the first time the other day and doesn’t that just improve the look of the most untidy garden?!

Today I’ve been to an interesting talk about the ‘Walled Kitchen Garden’ given by a local garden designer. This was very enjoyable and expanded my knowledge of the history and some of the old practices used in these wonderful places. Of course, as you will have been reading I’m really enjoying my volunteering at Blickling with its wonderful regenerated walled garden. I can’t believe its only 18 months since that project began..so much has been achieved.

I’ve mentioned the Allotment Project at Reepham High School, I think. I’m pleased to say that the greenhouse I managed to dismantle and reconstruct is in situ and hopefully it won’t be long before the glass is in and it’s being used to propagate seeds and maybe even grow tomatoes. And I must also mention that the project was the runner-up in a Norfolk ecological competition recently. Well deserved, so congratulations to Matt Willer and all the volunteers at the project!

I also visited a recently established Organic Market Garden at Booton, next door to Reepham the other day. Eves Hill Veg Co. is a social enterprise set up by Hannah Claxton who is gradually relocating herself from her current base in London (where she teaches organic growing) to this base, where currently a number of volunteers are engaged in getting the year’s growing season underway. I was pleased to meet Hannah and some of the volunteers and I wish them every success; maybe I can be of help to them at some point too. I was also grateful to be able to collect a trailer load of compost for free from them; courtesy of a local industrial scale composting facility (which composts household waste). The compost isn’t very fertile but it’s lovely stuff for building soil structure and for mulching, which is how I’ll be using it here.

Thanks for the compost Hannah!

Well, old friend, I think it’s time to be planning my day in the garden tomorrow…I think it’ll be a combination of more border clearance, ground elder removal, replenishing the compost in some long-term potted shrubs, and sowing some Phacelia. As we are going to be away for a longish period in a few weeks, I’m not planning to grow much by way of food this year. So this ‘Green Manure’ is perfect for covering the ground and then enriching it as it’s dug in. Happy gardening!

Old School Gardener

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Back to Thursday, this week at Blickling; it was good to see my fellow volunteers, who haven’t been with for a few weeks…so there was much catching up of news as you might imagine.

Most of us were sent off to the Walled Garden, where I was very excited to see the fully (well nearly) installed cold frames…what an impressive sight! They are just awaiting a set of stays to make sure they can be lifted fully open and propped whilst plants are placed in and out.

Norfolk Pete, Jane and I set about lifting the bed of Penstemons that had been slotted in here last autumn. We transported them over to the potting shed where other volunteers and gardener Rebecca were trimming them, potting them up and planting cuttings to propagate.

These are the Penstemons that are used at the top of the Parterre garden wall to replace the purple hyacinths that are just now coming into bloom. As I’ve been at Blickling for just over a year, I’m beginning to get the annual routine that affects much of the gardening activity here (and most places for that matter!); you may recall that a few weeks ago I was (once again) planting out Hellebores.

After lifting the Penstemons, Peter and I dug over the bed, leaving me a little time to help finish off the potting up. And as there were some hyacinths on sale I bagged eight and have slotted these into a border at home where some of last year’s were also put…sounds like I’m repeating myself?!

Further Information:

Blickling Hall website

Blickling Hall Facebook page

A 360 degree tour of Blickling Hall

Old School Gardener

Save

Save

Save

Save

I returned for a Wednesday session at Blickling this week. I joined a group detailed to tidying up the front edge of the moat, sitting directly in front of the main house entrance.

After a briefing from Assistant Head Gardener, Steve, we set about releasing a line of rather old, gnarled Fuchsia magellanica bushes from a smothering of Clematis montana, the latter climbing up the inside of the moat wall, scrambling over the metal post and rail fence and tumbling over the fuchsias.

Steve told us the plan was to cut down the Clematis after flowering and try to control it’s growth a bit more. This is a very vibrant plant and once established can easily smother anything that gets in its way. Steve had already prepared the job for us by using the hedge cutter to remove most of the fuchsia stems. I set to work trying to remove much of the dead Clematis stems that had accumulated over several years.

It was tough going, trying to preserve some living and soon-to-flower stems, whilst at the same time cutting back the remaining fuchsia stems. The rest of the group followed on by tidying around the fuchsias, removing quite a few leaves and tickling over the soil.

By the end of the day we had completed the whole border, and finished off by wrapping the surviving Clematis stems around the tops of the posts and tying them to the rails. Hopefully, we’ll still see some flowers in a month or two, before the uncovered fuchsias bloom later in the year.

As we worked, we spoke to several visitors as the House fully opened this week, and it was amusing to see and listen to members of ‘The Diggers’ group who dress up in period costume and impersonate various characters in Blickling’s past. Today visitors were cheerily greeted by former Prime Minister, Stanley Baldwin and the Blickling Head Gardener, circa 1939!

I popped over to the Walled Garden where the replacement cold frames were in the course of being installed. The Staffordshire company who have made these (and who also restored the greenhouses), have done a great job. I was interested to learn that the frames feature plastic glazing which has been pre-fitted. This will lighten the panels and provide a safer surface, as he frames are strung out alongside paths.

It was also good to see the various metal arches that will form the ‘Fruit Tunnel’ along the central pathway. These are now loosely placed in their holes, awaiting concreting in, followed by painting and planting up.

Further Information:

Blickling Hall website

Blickling Hall Facebook page

A 360 degree tour of Blickling Hall

Old School Gardener

Save

Save

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

Save

Save

wp_20170225_12_20_02_proTo Walter de Grasse

Dear Walter,

I’m making progress in Old School Garden– well, sort of. Having a solid five hour stint the other day I was pleased to see some of the front borders looking tidier, and hopefully, largely clear of the ground elder that had started to take over. Here ate the results; both borders now have repositioned roses which will eventually have a spread of Stachys byzantina surrounding them and for late summer/autumn a good number of Nerine bowdenii

Part of this day also involved removing the large clumps of Nepeta that had become too over powering around the roses. I have these in a barrow ready to fill another border that’s in the process of being cleared (and some will also go along the edges of a tunnel of climbing roses. I picked up some Convallaria bulbs (‘Lily of the Valley’) the other day and plan to under plant the Nepeta with these to provide a nice flowering combination- and some scent.

I’ve also carried on with the pruning and tidying elsewhere, but this is a long job and I can see quite a few bonfires on the way! The old cherry tree stump that has been acting as a base for a bird bath has finally rotted away in the ground so I’ve removed it (more firewood!).

wp_20170225_12_19_26_proI can report that my hip is holding up well so far, and I’m (very) gradually building up my muscle strength. I’m due to see a physiotherapist next week, so maybe I’ll have some other useful advice on what else I should be doing. The other day we had that ‘named storm’ called Doris pass by. How were you affected? I imagine possibly quite badly living up north as you do. Did you lose power, have any upturned trees etc? Fortunately we got away fairly lightly; a few garden furniture items fell over, and one pot toppled and cracked…

wp_20170225_08_11_21_proStill, the days are lengthening and some late winter/early spring flowers are doing their stuff…

I had a very interesting visit to a horticultural and associated workshop called ‘The Mount’ which is located next door to (and used by) a unit for those with mental health problems on the edge of Norwich. It’s been going for about 25 years and I was inspired to hear about the many ways the staff engage the service users in all manner of construction and growing projects. We could see an outdoor oven in the course of construction and took a look at the greenhouses and raised beds which are used extensively to grow all sorts of food and other crops. ..

Around 20 service users are involved regularly. I joined a small group of people interested in setting up something similar at a nearby Psychiatric Hospital. We had a good talk about their plans and ideas and I’m going to be involved in helping to develop the project. You may recall I mentioned before my role in a similar project called ‘The Grow Organisation’ on the other side of Norwich. I hope that we can help these and other projects to work together and perhaps to form a useful network of horticultural therapy projects in the area to benefit a wide range of people with mental and other health issues.

My other garden-related project involved spending nearly six hours last week dismantling a greenhouse!  Whilst doing our regular weekly shop we spotted an advert offering the greenhouse for free to anyone willing to dismantle it. We immediately thought of ‘The Allotment Project’ at the local High School and as we suspected the leader of that project, Matt, was enthusiastic about getting it. So having transported it over a few days ago (sadly there were a couple of glass breakages in transit and I had a gashed head for my troubles) yesterday I  went over to help with the process of installing it. Matt and I discussed location and settled, eventually, on a spot opposite the existing poly tunnel. Here are some  pictures…

Fortunately Matt had a few Railway Sleepers which we decided to use as the base, sunk in the ground and which the base of the frame could be screwed to. It was just as tricky reassembling the ends of the house as it was dismantling them- lots of nuts and bolts and very little room to get in a spanner. Still, I left yesterday with the base well on the way to being installed and the frame in a state where it can be fixed. So I’ll be returning next week to help finish off the job. A couple of other guys worked on finishing off the Chicken coop (formerly a childrens’ play house!) and I was also pleased to see that the Broad Beans I’d helped some students sow in the Autumn were coming along nicely (see pics above).

Back home, I’ve reached some conclusions on rearranging the kitchen garden, so hope in the next few weeks to get some of the trellis moved and a new fruit cage created for the raspberries and currants. I’m yet to finalise the position of the three gooseberry bushes I have, but I’m going to take a chance on putting these out in a sunny position in the open. I hope that you and Lise are looking forward to your spring break in Switzerland…you must tell us all about it when we see you at Easter.

 Old School Gardener

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

SISSINGHURST GARDEN

Notes from the Gardeners...

Deep Green Permaculture

Connecting People to Nature, Empowering People to Live Sustainably

BloominBootiful

A girl and her garden :)

gwenniesworld

ABOUT MY GARDEN, MY TRAVELS AND ART

Salt of Portugal

all that is glorious about Portugal

The Ramblings of an Aspiring Small Town Girl

Cooking, gardening, fishing, living, laughing.

aristonorganic

"The Best of the Best"

PetalPushin

Thoughts from a professional Petal Pusher

Free Spirit Publishing Blog

An idea exchange for kids' education

GarryRogers Nature Conservation

Wild Plants & Animals Advocate

Focused Moments

Photography by RACHAEL TALIBART

Lightning Droplets

Little flecks of inspiration and creativity

crabandfish garden

This WordPress.com site is our garden, cats, chickens and travel musings

breathofgreenair

mindfulness, relaxation, thought provoking images and poems

Vastrap Farm

My new life as a farm wife

C.B. Wentworth

Just following my muse . . .

~ Goat Track Photography ~

Ian G. Fraser, Brisbane, Australia

Noisy Pilgrims

Incredible Photography from India

%d bloggers like this: