Tag Archive: planting


Winter Jasmine looking good

Winter Jasmine looking good

I wish all my blog followers and casual readers a very Happy 2018!!

It’s been a year of ‘ticking over’ in Old School Garden, as a long trip to Australia to be at the birth of our grand daughter fell right in the middle of the growing season… and voluntary activity elsewhere meant my attention was not on the Ground Elder amongst other things on the home patch!

Still, various important projects are underway, most notably the restructuring and renovation of the Kitchen Garden, where I hope by the Spring to have built a new shed, and installed trellis, rose swags and other features….watch this space.

I’ve said before, you might think that January is a month when there’s not much to do in the garden; well there are some useful things you can get stuck into. So here are my top ten tips (with a ‘grow your own food’ angle and with thanks to various websites):

Chitting potatoes- probably only worth doing for first or second earlies. Place tubers with blunter ends upwards (the ones with most ‘eyes’) and place in trays in a cool but well- lit place towards the end of the month.

chitting pots

1. The answer is in the soil.

Remove all plant debris, to reduce the spread of disease and pests. If you need to, continue preparing ground and digging beds ready for next season, but only if the ground is still workable (don’t dig if the soils is wet or heavily frosted).

2. Don’t let the rot set in.

Check your stored fruit and vegetables carefully, for rot will pass easily one to another. Empty sacks of potatoes, checking them for rot and any slugs that might have been over-wintering unnoticed. Your nose is a good indicator, often you will smell rot even if it is not immediately apparent to the eye! Also check strung onions- rot usually starts from the underside of the onion.

 3. Enjoy your winter veg.

Continue harvesting Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, cabbages, celeriac, celery, chard, endive, kale, leeks, parsnips, turnips, winter lettuce, winter spinach, turnips. As you harvest brassicas, dig up the stems and turn the ground over. Because the compost heap will be cold and slow at this time of year, you can always bury these in the bottom of a trench along with some kitchen waste to prepare for the runner beans later in the year.

Red cabbage- lovely sliced and steamed with apple and onion in a little water, wine vinegar and sugar…

Red cabbage- lovely sliced and steamed with apple and onion in a little water, wine vinegar and sugar...

 4. Get ahead of the game.

Continue to sow winter salad leaves indoors/ under glass/ cloches- make your stir fries and salads more interesting with easy-to-grow sprouting seeds. If not already done and the weather is mild, plant garlic, onion sets and sow broad beans (e.g. Aquadulce ‘Claudia’) for early crops. Order or buy seed potatoes and start chitting (sprout) seed potatoes. Herbs are easy to grow on your windowsill and provide fresh greens all year round.

5. Not mushroom?

It’s surprisingly easy to grow your own mushrooms – try growing a mushroom log in your garden or alternatively grow some indoors using mushroom kits.

Mushroom-Logs

Mushroom logs can make you a fun guy…! 

6. Rhubarb, Rhubarb.

Consider dividing well established plants, and at the first signs of growth, cover to exclude light if you want ‘forced’ rhubarb over the next couple of months (growing the variety ‘Timperley Early’ may mean you get rhubarb in February anyway).

 7. The hardest cut.

Continue pruning out dead or diseased shoots on apple and pear trees, prune newly planted cane fruit, vines and established bush fruit if not already done. Continue planting new fruit trees and bushes if the soil conditions allow. If the ground is too waterlogged or frozen, keep bare rooted plants in a frost free cool place ensuring the roots don’t dry out.

8. Clean up.

If not already done, make sure your greenhouse is thoroughly cleaned inside and out and that any seed trays and pots you plan to use are also cleaned and inspected for pests- e.g. slugs and snails.

9. Fail to plan and you plan to fail.

Plan out what you are going to grow in the coming season and order seed catalogues.

pback1_1380165c 10. Put your back into it.

If you must dig, look after your back- remember to warm up and limber up before you do anything strenuous and try to bend your knees to ensure your legs take the strain – and not your back!

Old School Gardener

Save

Advertisements

Image result for images narcissus jenny

Narcissus ‘Jenny’

Back to a Thursday morning at Blickling this week, having missed last week. I began at 9am and was soon joined by fellow volunteer Rory. Gardener Rebecca asked us to dig planting holes for a thousand narcissus bulbs in the orangery garden….

Most of the gardeners wer on leave this day, and i was sad to learn that Project Manager Mike had had a resumption of his back problem so was once more on sick leave…speedy recovery Mike!

It turned out that the bulbs- called ‘Jenny’- were to go around the large central tree, naturalised in the grass. They had been chosen to commemorate one of the Thursday gardening volunteers- yes, named Jenny- who had passed away a year or two ago. A nice idea.

The central tree has a circular seat surrounding it and work was underway to repair the base of this which had rotted away somewhat. Near the top of the surrounding grass mound the turf was pretty hard and choked with pieces of old brick, but further down there was more give and the job of cutting out holes with a bulb planter a bit easier. Unfortunately Rory had been given a rather old and ineffective planter which didn’t cut too well, so he was forever clearing it out with odd pieces of stick (and regretfully, my secateurs).

My planter was certainly effective and by the time the ladies had joined us- to plant the bulbs- we had managed to get around half way around the tree.

Well, three hours later and we had managed to dig and plant out around 800 bulbs, with about 100 not being in good condition, so rejected, and the others to be planted in the White Garden near the double borders. They should all make a wonderful display in the spring. As it worked out, just as I had to leave we had just about finished and the heavens opened… I’m not looking forward to stiff shoulders in the morning.

Further Information:

Blickling Hall website

Blickling Hall Facebook page

A 360 degree tour of Blickling Hall

Old School Gardener

wp_20161124_12_48_27_proHaving spent the morning doing some Geophysics surveying at the nearby Aylsham Roman Project, I joined the Thursday Team at Blickling for a couple of hours this week.

The focus was digging over the Black Border and planting out over 600 ‘Queen of Night’ tulip bulbs which will look splendid alongside black Irises and black Mongo grass, as well as shrubs such as black Elder. The soil here is pretty damp and claggy, so we spent a good time forking it over to loosen it before planting out the bulbs.

wp_20161124_12_48_42_proOn my way to lunch I bumped into Project Manager, Mike, who has thankfully returned to work after his back problems. After lunch I was joined by Norfolk Peter and Gordon in the Walled Garden, where we planted out about seven rows of tulips which will be used for cutting flowers next spring. The soil, here, having been improved consistently over many years, was a joy to work compared to the Black border.

wp_20161124_14_43_36_proSo where were all the gardeners? It turns out they were ‘dressing’ the gardens for the festive openings in the run up to Christmas. The lighting effects and other decorations promise to be even better than previous years and the House has also been decked out as it would have looked for a 1930’s Christmas. If you can manage a visit, I’m sure it will be very worthwhile- I’ll post some pictures later in the week of how it all looks.

wp_20161124_15_01_21_pro

Further Information:

Blickling Hall website

Blickling Hall Facebook page

A 360 degree tour of Blickling Hall

Old School Gardener

Washingtonia robusta in the National Garden, Athens, Greece

Washingtonia robusta in the National Garden, Athens, Greece

Whilst there are a few trees with common names beginning with ‘W’ (e.g. Whitebeam, Willow) the choice on botanical names is once more limited. So you could argue that my choice is really a large (very large), grass rather than a tree, and a bit of a rarity in the U.K. But as the Washingtonia palm can be grown as an ornamental garden tree, I think I might just get away with it…

Common name: Named after George Washington, there are two species:

  • Washingtonia filifera, known also as California Washingtonia, Northern Washingtonia, California fan palm, or Desert fan palm.

  • Washingtonia robusta also known as Mexican Washingtonia, Southern Washingtonia or Thread Palm.

Native areas: Washingtonia is a genus of palms, native to the southwestern United States and northwest Mexico Both Washingtonia species are commonly cultivated across the southern USA, Middle East, southern Europe and north Africa, where they have greatly hybridized. The filifera species is also attempted in cooler climates, including the milder parts of the southern British Isles.

Washingtonia in a natural setting by Jim Harper

Washingtonia in a natural setting by Jim Harper

Historical notes: There is a persistent myth that these palms were brought to the Americas by the ancient Egyptians and their seeds were distributed in the waterways of the Western Californian area. The fruit of the Washingtonia was eaten raw, cooked, or ground into flour for cakes by native Americans. The Cahuilla and related tribes used the leaves to make sandals, thatch roofs, and baskets. The stems were used to make cooking utensils. The Moapa band of Paiutes as well as other Southern Paiutes have written memories of using this palm’s seed, fruit or leaves for various purposes including starvation food.

Features:  They are fan palms, with the leaves with a bare petiole terminating in a rounded fan of numerous leaflets. The flowers are in a dense inflorescence, with the fruits maturing into a small blackish-brown drupe 6–10 mm diameter with a thin layer of sweet flesh over the single seed. W. filifera can grow to around 23 metres tall, whilst robusta gets up to 25 metres. W. filifera has white flowers and large leaves and robusta pale orange-pink flowers, smaller leaves and narrower trunk. The fruit are eaten by birds, which disperse the seeds in their droppings after digesting the fruit pulp.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Uses: Both species are cultivated as ornamental trees, as specimens, or more often in groups along side roads, in parks and other such open spaces. W. robusta is suitable for coastal gardens.

Growing conditions:  W. filifera is very hardy in a dry climate and able to survive brief temperatures in the vicinity of -15 °C (5 °F), provided the air and soil are not too wet, and the afternoon temperatures are not too cold. Intolerance of wet, prolonged cold is the main reason the filifera species cannot grow properly in temperate marine climates. W. robusta is less sensitive to moisture than filifera, grows faster, but is far more easily damaged by cold. Grow outside in fertile, well-drained soil in full sun.

Further information:

Wikipedia

Old School Gardener

WP_20160310_12_56_22_Pro

The final solution for the trained fruit trees along the central path?

This week’s session at Blickling was easier- at least to begin with- than the previous few. Norfolk Peter and I were detailed to measure out the positions of the new trained fruit  around the edges and across the middle of the Walled Garden.

Placing and tying in canes to mark the planting positions was pretty straightforward around the perimeter- Mike plans for these to be vertically planted and then trained. Then we needed a bit of discussion about the central path, where Mike wants to put in some angled cordons for apples and pears. Putting them all in at 45 degrees and pointing the same way proved problematic; we ended up with plants placed too close to the concrete footings of the metal posts and some cordons would have to wrap around the corners or there would be gaps at the upper sections if we stuck rigidly to the spaces between each post…

After a bit of trial and error we came up with a combination of outwardly angled and a vertical espalier for each complete stretch of the wire and posts; this would mean some cordons growing over the intermediate metal posts and the angle would have to be steeper than 45 degrees. But overall it seemed to be a pleasing arrangement, and after they were in place I could see two other advantages; the design would visually slow you down as you proceeded along the path (rather than being hastened through if they had all be pointing in the same direction) and the angles nicely framed the other central path where these cross.

The rest of the volunteers were off digging over the parterre alongside the Hall, removing dead or dying Catmint and roses and replanting with new stock.

After lunch, having finished off the cane placing, Peter helped Mike measure up the splendid carved oak top trim for the new noticeboard and I barrowed in some soil and manure along the borders in the walled garden in preparation for the planting out of the many new plants that seem to be arriving in time for my next session… so next time it will be more gardening, less construction.

Further Information:

Blickling Hall website

Blickling Hall Facebook page

A 360 degree tour of Blickling Hall

Old School Gardener

 

FB_20160213_17_33_07_Saved_Picture

vitexI’m getting close to the end of the alphabet, and it doesn’t get any easier…so today’s feature tree (or large shrub), is the interestingly named Vitex agnus – castus…

Common name:  Vitex, Chaste Tree, chasteberry, Abraham’s balm, lilac chastetree, or monk’s pepper.

Native areas: Vitex agnus-castus is a native of the Mediterranean region and China. It is one of the few temperate-zone species of Vitex, which is on the whole a genus of tropical and sub-tropical flowering plants. It has a long history in the U.S.A. where it was first cultivated in 1670, and since that time it has become naturalized throughout the Southern part of the country. Many southerners use it as a replacement for lilacs, which don’t tolerate hot summers.

Historical notes: : Theophrastus mentioned Vitex as agnos (άγνος) in ‘Enquiry into Plants’. Vitex, its name in Pliny the Elder, is derived from the latin vieo, meaning to weave or to tie up, a reference to the use of Vitex agnus-castus in basketry. Its specific name repeats “chaste” in both Greek and Latin, and was considered to be sacred to the goddess Hestia/Vesta. In folk legends the tree is associated with Greek hagnos, ‘pure’, since it was strewn in bedchambers during Thesmophoria, the Greek religious festival when Athenian women left their husbands’ beds to remain ritually chaste-   “to cool the heat of lust”. At the end of the thirteenth century John Trevisa reports “the herbe agnus-castus is always grene, and the flowre therof is namly callyd Agnus Castus, for wyth smel and vse it maketh men chaste as a lombe”. More recently, this plant has been called monk’s pepper in the thought that it was used as anti-libido medicine by monks to aid their attempts to remain chaste. There are disputed accounts regarding its actual action on libido, with some claims that it is anaphrodisiac and others that it is aphrodisiac. Because of it’s  complex chemical action it can be probably be both, depending on the concentration of the extract and physiological variables. Today, Vitex agnus-castus is used to alleviate the symptoms of various gynaecological problems.

Features: Vitex blooms from late spring until early autumn with long, upright spikes of butterfly- attracting pink, lilac and white flowers (depending on variety) in late summer in cooler climates. It also has delicate-textured aromatic foliage. It develops small hard berries that ripen to a dark colour and look like peppercorns. It grows to a height of 1–5 metres.

Uses:   Whether left to grow as a large, multistemmed shrub, pruned to a standard tree or cut back annually for a more compact look, this selection is a winner. Fine, lacy leaves are glossy and green. Bright blue flower panicles begin to form in early summer and continue through the heat of the season and into autumn. This is a reasonably cold-hardy, deer-resistant woody plant. Vitex, also a traditional plant in Africa, is a little-known fruit plant that has potential to improve nutrition, boost food security, foster rural development and support sustainable landcare.

Growing conditions:   It requires full sun or partial shade along with well-drained soil. It’s best not to plant them in soil that is rich in organic matter because these soils hold too much moisture close to the roots. Chaste trees do very well in dry gardens. Under ideal conditions it is hardy to -10 degrees Fahrenheit and will grow in South West England (and possibly in suitable micro-climates and sheltered parts of gardens eleswhere) and the more temperate zones of north America. Wildlife shuns the seeds, and it’s just as well because you’ll have to remove the flower spikes before they go to seed to keep the plant flowering. You’ll need to prune annually to control the shape and size and encourage branching.

Further information:

Wikipedia

How to grow Vitex (U.S.A.)

Vitex agnus-castus- The British Gardener

Old School Gardener

FB_20150426_18_30_24_Saved_Picture

P1020823aSeen from indoors, or as you approach a stepped entrance, pots can make a ready-staged display as they mount the stairs. But always make sure that the pots do not obstruct the route and that they cannot fall or be kicked over. You can fix the pots in place with a dab or two of cement, as long as the drainage holes are not blocked, but this means they cannot be moved. The simplest way to secure each pot is to wrap a loop of gardening wire firmly round it and tie the ends of the wire to side railings or other firmly fixed uprights.

Source: ‘Good Ideas for Your Garden’- Reader’s Digest 1995

Old School Gardener

Camperdown Elm in Leamington, Ontario, Canada. Picture: jim5870

Camperdown Elm in Leamington, Ontario, Canada. Picture: jim5870

As we come to the end of this A-Z the options open become rather constrained; so today I’ve chosen a neat and compact variety of the Wych Elm, which can also be resistant to Dutch Elm disease.

Common name:  Camperdown Elm

Native areas: Ulmus glabra (Wych elm or Scots elm), the parent of this variety, has the widest range of the European elm species, from Ireland eastwards to the Urals, and from the Arctic Circle south to the mountains of Greece; it is also found in Iran. The tree was by far the most common elm in the north and west of the British Isles and is now acknowledged as the only indisputably British native elm species.

The original sport in Camperdown Park, Dundee. Picture: Peter Bourne

The original sport in Camperdown Park, Dundee. Picture: Peter Bourne

Historical notes: About 1835–1840, the Earl of Camperdown’s head forester, David Taylor, discovered a young contorted elm tree (a sport) growing in the forest at Camperdown House, in Dundee, Scotland. The young tree was lifted and replanted within the gardens Camperdown House where it still remains to this day. The original tree is less than 3 m tall, with a dramatic weeping habit and contorted branch structure and grows on its own roots. The earl’s gardener is said to have produced the first of what are commonly recognised as Camperdown elms by grafting it to the trunk of a Wych Elm (Ulmus glabra). Every ‘Camperdownii’ is descended (as cuttings taken from that original sport) and usually grafted on a Wych elm trunk.  Other grafting stock has been used. In Dundee, Scotland, there are two well established Camperdownii Elms at the gated entrance to a private residence on Constitution Terrace. Both trees have grown so they intertwine with each other and create the illusion of one tree in the summer months. The tree is likely to have been cultivated around 1850, the same age as the Victorian mansion situated in the grounds which was built around 1850. 

Ulmus_glabra_Camperdownii in Québec-Coulonges. Picture: Gilbert Bochenek

Features: The grafted Camperdown Elm slowly develops a broad, flat head that may eventually build as high as 4 m (13 feet) and an incommensurately wide crown with a contorted, weeping habit. The tree is often confused with the much taller ‘Horizontalis’ (Weeping Wych elm) owing to both being given the epithet ‘Pendula’ at some stage. It does not reproduce from seed. Neat and compact, it produces clusters of attractive hop-like flowers in the spring and its lustrous leaves add to its overall effect.

Uses:   Camperdown Elms satisfied a mid-Victorian passion for curiosities in the ‘Gardenesque’ gardens then in vogue. Many examples were planted, as ‘rarities’, in Britain and America, wherever elite gardens were extensive enough for tree collections. There are many on university campuses, often planted as memorials. Camperdown Elms are used in stately landscaping of American university campuses and others feature in townscapes. A small weeping tree with a dome shaped head, it looks good growing  as a specimen in a lawn in parks and gardens.

Growing conditions:  Camperdown Elm is cold hardy, suffering more from summer drought than winter cold. ‘Camperdownii’ can be susceptible to Dutch Elm disease, however there are still many examples to be found in parks and gardens across the British Isles as it often avoids detection by the Scolytae beetle (a major vector of Dutch Elm Disease) because of its diminutive height. Grow in average, medium moisture, well-drained soils in full sun. Tolerant of light shade. Prefers rich, moist loams. Adapts to both wet and dry sites. Generally tolerant of urban conditions. Non-suckering. 

Further information:

Wikipedia

Ulmus glabra ‘Camperdownii’– Missouri Botanical Garden

Old School Gardener

PushUP24

Health, Fitness, and Relationships is a great way to start living again.

Time Gents

Australian Pub Project

Vanha Talo Suomi

a harrowing journey of home improvement

How I Killed Betty!

The Diary and blog on How to Tackle Depression and Anxiety!

Bits & Tidbits

RANDOM BITS & MORE TIDBITS

Rambling in the Garden

.....and nurturing my soul

The Interpretation Game

Cultural Heritage and the Digital Economy

pbmGarden

Sense of place, purpose, rejuvenation and joy

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

%d bloggers like this: