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The wind has been the biggest challenge for most of us in the past week – whether or not we have been trying to spend time gardening. We took the advice of our polytunnel supplier, Direct Plants, and screwed the doors shut in readiness for the storm. Happily, this worked, and Storm Ciara seems to have left us unscathed. It has, however, been really chilly out in the wind and we have spent quite a lot of time in the shelter of the Rhino greenhouse, pinching out the shoots of the sweet peas, clearing dead leaves from the overwintering seedlings and pelargoniums and sorting through the new delivery of seeds. Looking through catalogues or websites deciding what to grow in the coming year is hugely enjoyable, but even better is the moment the seeds arrive and the little packets full of promise get sorted into some kind of sowing order. This week we will be starting some more peppers inside, along with the first pots of basil.
We had our first Caring for Fruit Trees course of the year on one of the coldest, windiest days this week, and just as we were tackling an old apple tree in the estate orchard, the hail began! We carried on and the sun did return long before we had finished. We also gave our new apples and pears in the Walled Garden their first prune, according to how we plan to grow and train them. It will be exciting to see them develop over the next few years, and we will try to resist the temptation to allow them to bear fruit in the first three years.
The Border Renovation course is proving so popular that we have added a further day in March. Do let us know if you would like to join us. We had a packed day this week looking at how to renovate perennials, shrubs and ornamental grasses, and how to plant for year-round interest. This is a theme we return to often, being firm believers that the garden should have colour and structure every month of the year. Right now, the very new shrub border has variegated evergreen foliage, bright red and yellow stems, several shades of green foliage and two types of spring bulbs all combining to great effect. We will be adding to it, but it is already a good example of what can be done with a plan which focuses on ensuring interest in every month of the year.
Upcoming courses with availability:
Pruning Shrubs & Roses 25th February
Gardening Under Glass 6th March
Border Renovation 10th March
Plants for Free - Propagation Workshop 13the March
What Needs Doing Now 14th March
Planting for Year Round Colour 20th March
Certificate in Practical Horticulture (10 week course) starting 29th April & 2nd May
Plant of the Week
Clematis cirrhosa 'Freckles'
This is an evergreen species which can grow up to 3m. In late winter it produces slightly fragrant, cup-shaped creamy-yellow flowers which are spotted purple inside and are followed in early spring by fluffy seedheads. It requires a warm, sheltered position to flower well, though it thrives in any fertile, well-drained soil, and should be pruned after flowering in mid to late spring to maintain shape.