Tag Archive: penstemon

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_20151105_12_20_46_ProMore strimming this week in my short session at Blickling.

The ladies were whisked away to pull up the Penstemons for over wintering and to make way for next spring’s display of Hyacinths.

WP_20151105_12_29_36_ProFellow volunteer Peter and I were sent to the wider gardens where the grass had been mown a few days before, but where the mower couldn’t go, we were to strim away the long grass around tree trunks and edges etc. There are several avenues of beech and other trees radiating away form the more formal gardens area and we worked our way along and around these.

As I’ve reported before, these strimmers are pretty strong and use a plastic-sheathed metal cord which is quite capable of cutting through pretty thick stems as well as grass. We were mindful of this and were careful not to go too near the trunks of the trees for fear of ‘ring-barking’ them, which causes wounds that are open to disease and rot.

WP_20151105_12_21_22_ProThe Hall has now closed for the winter (apart from special events and group visits) and the gardens are on shorter opening hours. The last colour of flower has now pretty much disappeared and the focus in the gardens is on cutting down, pulling out, dividing and mulching in preparation for winter.

Further Information:

Blickling Hall website

Blickling Hall Facebook page

A 360 degree tour of Blickling Hall

Old School Gardener



My last session at Blickling Hall involved a lot of weeding along paths in the double borders- which continue to look superb as late summer flower colour is added to by the flourishing grasses.

Path weeding...never ending....

Path weeding…never ending….


The White Borders are also looking particularly good, and the Penstemons seem to be hanging on too.

One of the pleasures of volunteering in the gardens is getting to meet and talk with the visitors, many of whom have great gardening experience. On this occasion I was asked the names of three different plants in the borders and I rather surprised myself that I knew all of their latin names! Must be a fluke…

The last person to ask me seemed more than usually interested in the latin names; it turned out he was a chemist and knew latin pretty well, so was able to translate some of the more common terms for describing colours, flower and foliage form etc.

Eupatorium ('Joe Pye Weed')- one of those latin names...

Eupatorium (‘Joe Pye Weed’)- one of those latin names…

I was also amazed to see how tall  the Pawlonia had grown and with such huge leaves! You may recall me being given the task earlier in the year of pruning these back; it certainly seems to have paid off.

Pawlonia- massive foliage

Pawlonia- massive foliage

Further Information:

Blickling Hall website

Blickling Hall Facebook page

A 360 degree tour of Blickling Hall

Old School Gardener


WP_20150604_14_12_41_ProYesterday’s session at Blickling was spent planting 6 million Penstemons ( I exaggerate)…

Chance would have it that the day I was to spend on my knees in the Long Borders, was the first day I’d wear shorts! Having finished off raking the bare soil, my fellow volunteers and I set to work planting out a large number of over wintered plants, which were brought over from the Walled Garden for us. The system worked well- a couple of helpers bringing plants to the three of us digging holes and planting; fairly close together, as the soil isn’t wonderful here and the plants, apparently, don’t seem to get very large.

Four hours later (and after a mild panic when we thought we’d run out of plants), the job was done. Apart from the sore knees, it was lovely planting out in the sun and with the fragrance of nearby Wisteria and Honeysuckle filling the air. It will be good to see how these mixed plants (some of the pots had been amusingly labelled ‘unkown’), progress in the next couple of months.

I also took a look at the Peony borders I featured a few weeks ago. Surprisingly, they haven’t yet fully opened, but there were a few blooms to give us a taste of what will come- hopefully soon, if the weather warms up a bit.

Over lunch Mike, the Walled Garden Project Manager, showed me a lovely ‘artist’s impression’ of the Walled Garden;  a wonderful vision of how it will look in a few years time and something to spur those involved in pressing on with the regeneration project. I’ll see if I can share this picture with you at some point.

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Further Information:

Blickling Hall website

Blickling Hall Facebook page

A 360 degree tour of Blickling Hall

Old School Gardener


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