Tag Archive: walled garden


Check out this article about the Walled Garden Project, which is now half way through its project development phase.

https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/blickling-estate/news/a-jewel-in-the-blickling-crown

Travelling back from our recent trip to Hull, we stopped off at a National Trust property in Derbyshire, the north midlands- Hardwick Hall. The Hall itself wasn’t open on our visit, but promises to be a fascinating example of high 18th century bling, so a return visit is in store….meanwhile how about the gardens?

After a pleasant lunch, sitting outside in the sunshine, we made our way around the rather splendid house (picking up a brief history from a very helpful guide) and explored the interesting entrance gardens and walled gardens that sit alongside the impressive pile.

The gardens are kept in good condition, as you might expect, and provide a wonderful opportunity to diversify and create areas of interest in what might otherwise seem to be an underdeveloped layout. Certainly the mixed herbaceous borders surrounding the House looked to be firing up for a wonderful summer show, but I was left thinking that more could be made of the walled garden….maybe I’ve been spoiled by my experience of regenerating the Walled Garden at Blickling! However, it was a very pleasant walk and I was very impressed with the various neat and interesting ways of interpreting the gardens and what’s currently of interest…something Blickling could do more of…

We didn’t have time to explore the wider estate, but it would seem to be packed with interesting walks (including a sculpture walk), complete with roaming herds of deer and other animals.

Further information: National Trust website

Old School Gardener

 

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

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On our way ‘up t’ ‘ull’ (Up to Hull) recently we stopped off at a Lincolnshire Garden that was most impressive, Gunby Hall. This National Trust house was an interesting tour, but the most impressive feature is undoubtedly the gardens.

The time was right for a wonderful woodland display of Wood Anenomes and spring bulbs, complemented bya walk lined with flowering cherries. And the Walled Garden (where I stopped to talk to the Senior Gardener) and orchard are a delight. Enjoy the picture parade…

Further information: National Trust website

Old School Gardener

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

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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

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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

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We took a mother’s Day trip out to this super National Trust Hall and Farm in Cambridgeshire. I loved the parterre with it’s combinations of Box and Euonymous and the Folly tower with some wonderful skeletal trees…

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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

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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

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