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July 2017 Blog

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The Walled Garden - July 2017 Blog


Head Gardener Mary Hamer reports on the happenings in the garden.


Vegetables: With summer well under way, the vegetables in the well-stocked beds are growing heartily. Weekly harvesting, which will reach a peak in late summer, has begun to stock the garden shop with produce such as broad beans, French beans, peas, mangetout and summer cabbages. Young beetroot and courgettes are also being picked and their smaller size means a more intense flavour and a more tender texture. The propagation houses which are used to house seedlings and young plants in the spring and early summer now have the cucumber and tomato plants in them - which are fruiting well. You can find punnets of mixed tomatoes in the shop and also standard and mini cucumbers. The majority of vegetable planting has been done now, but when a gap appears in the vegetable bed after a crop has been fully harvested, a new quick-growing vegetable can be planted, such as lettuce, radish or spring onion.


Borders: It's a priority this summer to get the newly planted borders safely through their first year. Although the plants in the design for the borders are drought tolerant, they require a great deal of tlc throughout their first growing season. In later years, these perennial plants will not need watering during a normal summer but for this first year we have to dedicate some of the week to watering them. We have filled a few gaps with some half hardy annuals, such as 'Cleome 'Violet Queen' which, being annuals, cannot wait until the autumn to be planted. We do however wait for a cool, damp day to plant, giving the plants the best chance of establishing their roots in the soil. It's asking for trouble to plant on a very hot dry day, so we are thankful that the English summer sometimes blesses us with grey days!!

The Walled Garden is very exposed to the wind and the new borders are particularly prone to wind damage as the plants in them are all still to small to support each other - when the borders have grown together more they will be able to withstand batterings from summer storms more easily. It does mean that bamboo canes are necessary to support tall plants and metal cages like old-fashioned lobster pots are put up over tall, bushy plants. The earlier this is done in the year (before the plant has grown enough to need the support) the more chance you have of the plants covering the support and looking natural and unobscured. 


Plant heroine of the month: Red Hot Pokers (Kniphofia sp.) are now not particularly fashionable, having had their day of fame in the 1970's when they were extremely popular. However, they are wowing visitors to the garden at the moment with their bold, vivid colours that spring into view across the expanse of the garden, leading your eye from one border to another. They are usually seen in reds and oranges, but some of the new planting this year contains a bronze and a creamy-green variety. They are excellent foil to the blousy, wilder plants, as they have very definite spikes that stand above the general planting and lend height to the border. As many of our plants, they are drought-tolerant and are also easy to look after, just needing to be divided in the autumn if they get to large. The photograph above is of one of the Kniphofia in flower.


Available in the shop: Broad beans, French beans, peas, mangetout, summer cabbages, cucumbers, tomatoes, beetroot and courgette, chard, and bags of salads - also, sweet peas and dahlias as cut flower posies.


Volunteers: The summer is always a busy time for volunteers, who can generally be found under sun-hats in the garden, watering, weeding, harvesting and mowing! The Open Days often bring in new volunteers and we have had a few more volunteers join so far this summer, both for daytime and the Wednesday evening sessions.