Tag Archive: roses


So here we go…a first, experimental post to share some of my experiences of gardens, parks and other open spaces on our recent trip to Australia. Please let me know what you think!

Our trip was primarily about visiting our eldest daughter and her partner as they were expecting our first grand child. They live in the south west suburbs of Melbourne, Victoria, so much of the six weeks we were there were spent in Victoria, though we also managed tow short breaks to Sydney and Canberra.

The first trip out was to a histroic house and park/gardens called Werribee Park, a short drive away. We didn’t look round the house- a Victorian pile (in both senses) put up by a family that had ‘made it good’ in the newly prosperous Victoria of gold rush fame.

The Park is laid out in classic English landscape style with beautifully grouped trees and lawns, with more formal beds and borders of carpet bedding and other flowering plants. there is a large lake with an accompanying grotto and an old glasshouse with rather different planting than you’d see back in England!

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There is also the Victorian State Rose Garden a more recent addition to the park and which is cleverly laid out in the shape of a Tudor Rose and with accompanying areas shaped as a bud (carrying a large collection of David Austin roses) and the ‘Australian Federation Leaf’. Though it was winter time when we visited, there was still a good display of flowers, and the whole area must be really grand in mid summer.

The concept of the State Rose Garden goes back to 1976, when the National Rose Society developed the idea…it was another 20 years before the Tudor rose area was planted up and since then grants and donations have enabled the newer areas to be planted out. In 2003 the garden won the ‘Garden of Excellence’ award from the World Federation of Rose Societies. Managed by Parks Victoria, the site relies on a large group of volunteers for its care and maintenance. I look forward to visiting both areas again in the summer months!

Oh, and if you didn’t know, our grand daughter Freya Grace was born on 28th June and is doing well, along with mum and dad!

Old School Gardener

 

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Cordon gooseberries at the ready in the recently erected Fruit Cage...

Cordon gooseberries at the ready in the recently erected Fruit Cage…

Another morning session at Blickling this week. My hip was feeling good, but my trip to the doctors after this session revealed some moderate arthritis, so I’ll have to be careful, but hopefully I can increase the gardening…there’s certainly lots to do at home let alone anywhere else…

Today, we split into two groups, the ladies weeding in the main gardens, we chaps sent to the Walled garden for some weeding amongst the pots of roses (due to be planted out soon), and tickling over one of the beds, removing a few minor weeds as we went. I joined Norfolk Peter on the latter, whilst Rory and Gordon headed over to the roses.

For the roses...

For the roses…

We had a good chat about this and that and also talked about the plans for the walled garden. I’d found out from Project Manager, Mike that the new cold frames were due to be delivered and fixed in the next week or two.

ready for fitting- the base of the new cold frames next to one of the glasshouses

ready for fitting- the base of the new cold frames next to one of the glasshouses

I also spotted some of the metal arches that are to be erected over the main path, where apples will be trained up and over them. Rory showed me the holes he and Peter had dug last week in preparation for this.

And I was pleased to see that the new panels for the information board at the entrance had been fitted; they give some interesting insights into the history of the garden, recent achievements and something on the vision for the future.

As we finished off the border digging, Peter and I remarked on how well the bean tunnel we had built from hazel a couple of years ago was looking; it has  the string ties replaced each year, but it still looks good and solid!

wp_20170209_12_47_51_proFurther Information:

Blickling Hall website

Blickling Hall Facebook page

A 360 degree tour of Blickling Hall

Old School Gardener

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WP_20150625_14_59_03_ProAnother two week break from Blickling, and this week’s session was hot, hot, hot!

Shorts (well, nearly), were the order of the day along with my new National Trust polo shirt. I joined the other volunteers in the Orangery Garden initially, weeding among the Hellebores and ferns, an area I’d helped tackle earlier in the season, but which now was awash with Foxglove seedlings.

Quite satisfying working in the shade and after a good shower of rain a few days before, working my border fork around the plants and leaving the odd seedling where there was an obvious gap. The ladies and I managed to clear one of the island beds just before lunch, and a couple of us then went over with gardener Rob to the Double Borders to continue filling gaps with Dahlia tubers, some not looking up to much, but we shall see…

The Parterre looking neat and with early hints at the colour to come...

The Parterre looking neat and with early hints at the colour to come…

These borders, typical of many British gardens at this time of year, have completed the first spring rush of fresh foliage and flower colour and are giving way to the clipped forms of shrubs and the more subtle colouring and tones that presage a  later summer riot of colour, which I look forward to seeing. To add a further bit of interest, there’s also currently a sculpture display in the gardens, featuring some lovely stained glass and various shells.

The garden team have obviously been busy in recent weeks filling the gaps left by the spring bulbs with a host of annuals, all looking ready to romp away. The plant that yielded most visitor interest while we were planting was the Beetroot (‘Bulls blood’) which had been cleverly grouped at the front of the borders and gives a really vibrant splash of red when the other colours around at this time are more muted. Well, we finished our planting task in good time as the warmth of the day reached its peak…

Beetroot 'Bull's Blood' causing a stir in the Double Borders

Beetroot ‘Bull’s Blood’ causing a stir in the Double Borders

And later I came along for another ‘roasting’- a most enjoyable ‘Hog Roast’ put on by the Trust as a ‘thank you’ for staff and volunteers. I had a good chat with Head Gardener, Paul and a couple of other volunteers, one who acts as a room guide in the House, the other as a guide in the R.A.F. Oulton Museum on site. There was a Jazz band and the food was scrummy too. 

Further Information:

Blickling Hall website

Blickling Hall Facebook page

A 360 degree tour of Blickling Hall

Old School Gardener

 

WP_20150521_15_40_07_Pro I think it must be three weeks since I was last at Blickling. I got a chance to look around at the end of my working session and there were several highlights I hadn’t seen before, most notably the Azaleas round the Temple, the wall-trained Wisterias, the masses of Forget-me-Nots and Honesty in the Dell and some of the colour combinations in the double borders; especially the Tulip ‘Queen of Night’ and the black foliage of Mongo Grass and Black Elders.

My fellow volunteers were bit thin on the ground this week, and the gardening team pretty much seemed to be tied up in interviews all day, so we were left to our own devices! But the task was simple, weeding in the rose borders in the main Parterres. I went to work with my hoe (I really enjoy this task) and though the borders were pretty clear, there were a few odd weeds (including patches of Oxalis which the other volunteers dug up) and some edging of the grass to be done.

The session was punctuated with chats to vistors who were very complimentary about the gardens. One couple from Bury St. Edmunds envied us the light soil we have in this area- they have to tackle thick clay.

Head Gardener Paul informed us that the National Trust Gardens advisor had recently visited and was full of praise for the gardens and what the whole team had achieved; that was good to hear.

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Work in the Walled Garden has continued with the hard core for the main paths being laid and consolidated. The next job is installing 800 metres of metal edging- I don’t envy the Team that job!

Further Information:

Blickling Hall website

Blickling Hall Facebook page

A 360 degree tour of Blickling Hall

Old School Gardener

 

One way of pruning lavender

One way of pruning lavender

Pruning-

Choose plants that will perform reliably with minimal pruning. Keep any pruning you do mas simple as possible. For instance, don’t bother following traditional pruning methods for hybrid tea and floribunda roses, just cut all the stems down to 30cm (12 inches) high using shears, secateurs or even a hedge trimmer. prepare prunings for the compost heap quickly by using a shredder or spread them on the lawn and chop them up with a rotary mower witha grass ,box or use a garden vacuum tthat mulches too.

Further information:

How to prune your plants- Gardeners’ World

Pruning Tips and Techniques

Source: ‘Short Cuts to Great Gardens’ (Reader’s Digest 1999)

Old School Gardener

 

IMG_9810I’ve mentioned Abbey Gardens before, in the context of my role as a Green Flag Award judge. That time- spring last year- the place was looking great in its colourful bedding of bulbs and other spring flowers. I visited it again recently and the formal beds were once again looking superb; bright, clever combinations of flowers provided the sort of formal scheme once extensively used in public gardens and parks around the U.K. However, it’s very labour and resource intensive and has therefore been replaced by lower cost alternatives in many places, but it’s still good to see it done well. And here it IS done very well.

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Apart from the borders there are other interesting attractions in the gardens, which also house the ruins of the abbey, and it has great views to the Cathedral with its ‘millenium tower’. And while we were there we had a wider walk around this lovely town with its extensive floral displays.

Old School Gardener

‘At the heart of this serene rural estate is Mottisfont Abbey, set in glorious grounds alongside the fast-flowing River Test.

There are many layers of history for visitors to explore, including the Gothic remains of the original 13th-century Augustinian priory.

In the mid-20th century the final private owner, society hostess and patron of the arts, Maud Russell, used the Abbey as a base for her racy and intriguing life.

The River Test is one of the finest chalk streams in the world and the walled gardens house the National Collection of old-fashioned roses.’

On a recent trip to southern England I visited Mottisfont Abbey, Hampshire. Now run by the National Trust this house and gardens is famous for its roses – alas I will need to return in the summer to appreciate them! It also has a rather good Winter Garden and because of the bright sunshine I was able to capture some attractive images of the gardens and grounds. I hope you enjoy them.

Old School Gardener

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