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It has been another wet and windy week, but with some lovely sunshine in between the showers. We grabbed one of those rare sunny afternoons to plant a small orchard. In fact it is not that small: twelve trees, added to the six we already have, makes for a fairly decent sized orchard, even if it feels a little dwarfed by the size of the Walled Garden. We wanted to replace some of the wall-trained fruit trees which have long since disappeared, so many of the trees have been specially selected with dwarf rootstock and planted against the walls where we will train them using the Victorian fixings. We have planted apples, pears and plums, all selected for flavour and their ability to pollinate each other. The highlights include three old Norfolk varieties, Norfolk Beefing, Adams Pearmain and Norfolk Royal Russett, as well as a pear called Glou Morceau for which there is an 1871 label on one of the walls, marking the spot where one of its ancestors was planted. It turns out that the Norfolk Beefing was also known as the Norfolk Biffin, and was first recorded on Mannington Estate, the home of Lord and Lady Walpole. There are photos on our social media pages of some of the trees, and the Victorian label. We cannot wait for these lovely trees to get established and start fruiting.
We have also been getting some more perennials into the ground. This time it was Verbena bonariensis ‘Lollipop’, a dwarf cultivar which we grew from seed. We have rows of healthy plants which will be used for planting and propagation practice during the Certificate in Practical Horticulture next year. The first ten-week course is fully booked but we will release further dates for April and September in the next week, including a Saturday course for those who cannot do weekdays. This is the only formal practical horticulture qualification currently available for gardeners in Norfolk and Suffolk and is going to be very popular, so do get in touch if you are interested.
Back in the classroom we have had a very busy Christmassy week of wreath and table decoration workshops and it has been great to see so many people leaving with beautiful wreaths to hang on their front doors across Norfolk and Suffolk. The best thing is that everything we have done with Sarah Hammond from English Peonies has been foam-free using sustainably sourced moss and locally foraged foliage, but with no compromise on quality. We really do have a choice when we arrange flowers and we don’t need to use any of the environmentally damaging foams.
Upcoming courses with availability:
Introduction to Garden Design 16th January (6 week course starts)
Renovation Pruning 28th January
Introduction to Veg Growing 31st January
Certificate in Practical Horticulture register your interest for April (10 week course)
Plant of the Week
An amazing medium-sized evergreen shrub brought over from Japan in 1838. The large, polished, dark green leaves are palmate in shape giving a subtropical effect. It flowers at this time of year with panicles of milk-white flower heads all the way from October to December. Fatsia japonica grows well in sun or semi-shade on all types of well-drained soil.