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May 2017 Blog

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The Walled Garden - May 2017 Blog
May 2017 Blog

Old Blush

The Walled Garden Blog is a great place to catch up on all our gardening updates here at the Luton Hoo Estate Walled Garden.


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


Vegetables, fruit and herbs: The newly restored prop houses have been vital this spring in protecting the seedlings, and in particular avoiding the slug problem that was the bane of all gardeners in 2016. So now there are beetroot, peas, climbing beans, sweetcorn and French beans waiting to be transplanted. The melon plants are still young but will soon be moved to their summer position in the prop house. The lavender has been grown from seeds and the seedling have been picked out into individual groups to continue their growth. 

The trays set up with reservoirs and capillary matting in the houses have certainly helped the water problem!


New Borders: Chives and Ophiopogonplaniscapus (black grass) have been planted alternately on a borders edge where there is concrete just 8cm under the soil (concrete left from the plant nursery in the 1970's) - they are drought resistant, shallow rooted and attractive. Penstemon plants which were taken as cuttings only last autumn have been planted in the metcalfe border, one of the new borders in the garden. All borders have been planted up in preparation for the rain forecasted!


Plant Heroines of the month: Alchemilla mollis-a drought resistant and pretty plant which self seeds, (volunteer has been digging up seedlings from cracks in the path) and is a useful size for the front boarders.  


Malmaison Carnations: Not available in many places-have been successfully propagated. The Malmaison carnation originated in France and its cultivation  was perfect in Great Britain. "Old Blush" (pictured above) or "Souvenir de la Malmaison, so called because it resembled the flowers of the Bourbon rose of that name, first came to this country during the 1980's. By the end of the century a number of cultivators were being grown and they had become the flower of fashion for the London season. All have a distinctive fragrance of cloves and their natural flowering time is from June to August. Others grown at Luton Hoo Estate are Princess of Wales, Thora and Tayside Red. Its is traditional to display them with Asparagus ferm in crystal vases. They were also fashionable choices for corsages and buttonholes. A Malmaison flower, dyed green, was almost certainly a carnation Oscar Wilde wore in his buttonhole. 


Rhododendrons: Are blooming in the Flower Garden Wood. They can be seen from the woodland walk, which is the pathway to the Shooting Lodge cafe, come and see them soon.


Landscaping: Hard landscaping has been underway by volunteers, moving wheelbarrows full of rocks from the area in front of the greenhouses in order for the ground to be levelled and grassed with a boarder. 

The grounds team, a small group within the gardening team, who usually do the heavy lifting, digging and mowing, are also having a pumpkin growing competition between them. They have planted seeds of the "Hundredweight" variety.


Volunteers: On May 10th 23 volunteers and Mary our Head Gardener organised a wonderful system so that all the volunteers know what they are working on. The new filing system holds all the information sheets which the gardeners can add to.


Volunteering: The new evening volunteering on Wednesdays from 1700-2000  is starting to take off. It has 3 new volunteers at the moment with more joining. 


Available to buy in the shop: Mint, oregano, chives, salad leaves (grown in the prop house), rhubarb, tomatoes and cucumber planet-all grown without chemicals.