Edinburgh Garden Diary

IMG_9982Arley Hall and its grand estate and extensive formal gardens lie near Warrington in the North West of England. I am always on the look-out for pleasant stop-offs to break my regular 5-hour journey between Edinburgh and Derbyshire, and Arley being just a few miles from the M6 it seemed like a good place to stretch my legs, buy a cup of tea, and revel in some expert garden design.


While I mention design, I should clarify that Arley’s ancestral family, who have gardened at Arley for the past 250 years, proudly state that their work has been “unassisted by professional designers”, and that each feature of the garden represents the tastes and skill of particular family members across the generations. The current owners, the Viscount and Viscountess Ashbrook, are the latest members of the Egerton-Warburton family to have influenced the garden. A detailed set of panels within the garden…

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Digging for Dirt

Garden tasks for May 

  • Don’t get caught out by late and unexpected frosts! Keep some garden fleece handy and cover tender plants when temperatures drop.
  • Check emerging lily foliage for signs of the lily beetle which will strip leaves from the tip to the stem. These beetles may be small but they are also bright red making them really easy to spot. At this time of year they start looking for somewhere to lay their eggs, often settling on the underside of leaves. The resulting larvae remain on the plant for several months afterwards. Remove by hand and monitor frequently.
  • Once daffodils have ceased to flower overcrowded clumps can be lifted and divided to allow for healthier and more vigorous plants in the future.
  • This is the perfect month to take the first softwood cuttings of the year. Look for soft new growth about 10cm in length. Cut…

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April Notebook

Digging for Dirt

  • Now is a great time to repair bare patches in your lawn. First dig out the affected area, lightly fork the bottom of the hole and re-fill with topsoil – the finer the better. Next, gently rake in your grass seed before watering it in. Beware of late frosts and hungry birds! Both will seriously inhibit germination.
  • Everything should be beginning to wake up now ready for the growing season ahead – begin to increase the amount of water you give to your houseplants.
  • The moist weather which usually accompanies spring creates the ideal conditions for applying mulch. Organic mulches can help to retain moisture, suppress weed growth and improve the structure of your soil. Leaf mould and spent mushroom compost are amongst the best. Be sure to clear weeds from beneath your plants beforehand, apply to 5cm of depth and keep clear of central stems and trunks –…

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One Billion Hungry: Can We Feed the World?

By Alice Marks

DSC_0230 Odette Dusabuwera in her agrodealer shop

The inability to access inputs is often cited as a major barrier to increasing the productivity of farms and improving the livelihoods of rural farmers. One Acre Fund (OAF), known as Tubura in Rwanda, has served more than 113,500 farmers since it started operations in the country in 2007, and now employs more than 1,400 staff members. One of their programs aims to tackle this barrier by working with agrodealers, providing them with credit for OAF seed and other inputs, such as much-needed fertiliser so that they can stock their shops with good quality products. OAF-supported agrodealers can expect to make US$2000-3000 per year in profit.

On a recent visit to Rwanda, OAF took us to meet Odette Dusabuwera, an agrodealer from Rubengera, in Western Rwanda, to find out how this approach was working for the agrodealers and farmers.

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Gressenhall Farm and Workhouse

‘Snap’ the Famous Norwich Dragon, is currently here for some spa treatment from our conservators. He is looking pretty happy about the whole experience! Have a look at his special horse shoe teeth that make that distinctive SNAP!

We are also looking after his poor cousin too, who seems less happy with his treatment!


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Gressenhall Farm and Workhouse

The statue of Christopher High and two of his sons arrived today. It has been created for us by Alan Herriot, and captures the moment when the farmer has to leave his young son at the workhouse as he can no longer afford to look after him. It will eventually be placed in the main courtyard.

Some of our previous statues are not very impressed…..


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