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August 2017 Blog

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The Walled Garden - August 2017 Blog

Head Gardener Mary Hamer fills us in on all the goings on in the garden!


Flower Borders - The flowers that were planted in April have grown well. It's always a surprise how much growth is put on over the summer - plants that seem quite compact in the spring are now big and blousy, filling out the borders. Many of the plants in the new borders (the ones planted this April) were, unusually, bought in from nursery. Normally we prefer to use the ones we've grown ourselves, but the planting this spring involved planting up almost 200m of borders 2m deep and we didn't have the quantity of plants that amount of borders called for! The decision was made to go for slightly older plants with very well established root systems rather than small plug plants (plants in their first season's growth). This has meant that they have the ability to survive a very dry early summer and helps account for the excellent growth they have put on. It also won't be long before we can use these mature plants for taking cuttings from - August is a good time to take Penstemon, Lavender and Carnation cuttings. Later in the month, as the annual plants start to die off, it'll be time to gather their seeds - from marigolds, Nigella and poppies, mostly. 

Of course, growth isn't restricted to the plants we want: the gardeners have been kept busy weeding, with the mixture of sunshine and heavy showers being the perfect weather for weeds. Drought tends to restrict weed growth and that hasn't been the case this August! In fact, it's been wet enough to start contemplating planting up the rest of the gaps in the new borders - something we tend to wait for Autumn under dryer circumstances.


Vegetables and Fruit - August really is the bumper harvest month in the garden! Just a selection - there are cabbages, marrows, tomatoes and potatoes, as well as raspberries and blackberries. The melons, aubergines, apples, pears and figs ripen over this month. We've also been doing some tasting experiments to decide which are the best tomatoes to sow next year with some volunteers bringing them in from home and the ones we have here! The medlar trees, planted only last year, are full of fruit and when ready will provide ingredients for jam and jelly making. Also in the produce stall is honey, and this includes cut honeycombs which are not readily available in the shops and are from our own bees which frequent the garden. 


Volunteers - Heavy rain has hampered the gardening this month and the volunteers have gone home a little earlier than usual to warm baths after getting soaked through to the skin! Of course one relief has been that no watering outdoors as been necessary! The grounds group within the volunteer garden team are digging out two borders by the Mackenzie Moncur conservatory. They are also caring for their giant pumpkin plants which will be judged on our Autumn Open Day on Saturday 7th October - their girth will be measured...this pumpkins' that is!!

The garden team are very much appreciating the repairs o the first prop house by the volunteer Conservation Team who have recently exposed the decorative iron grids on the prop house floor. The prop house has been used to grow lots of plants particularly the vegetables before they're planted outside. 


Children's Workshops - On Thursday mornings throughout the summer holidays we have children's workshops. This is always spent actually out in the garden, but there's also craft activities and gardening skills too all under the theme for the week such as 'herbs'; 'plant hunters'; 'the flower garden'. 


Plant Heroines of the Month - The tall gladioli are doing really well and make quite an impact across the garden - a Victorian favourite, they bring a certain majestic feel to the borders! They are grown from corms (bulbs) so aren't difficult to grow and with the slightly milder winters we have at present, the gladioli corms can often stay in the ground throughout the year if the soil's well-drained enough. 


Wild life - At the beginning of the rejuvenation of the garden, the rabbits dominated and any new planting was likely to be eaten! With the garden more in use, the rabbit population has decreased and the new borders have been almost untouched despite being outside the fence. The garden isn't always bust of course, and when its quieter there are often finches, woodpeckers and wrens amongst others. Crickets and grasshoppers are plentiful in the long grass which is a good reason to keep some places uncut as the garden becomes neater each year!