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Did anyone else think that was the longest January ever? Well we are quite glad to put it behind us and are hoping that February will bring less rain as the days get noticeably longer and more and more spring bulbs greet us each day. This week Iris sibirica ‘Spot On’ has started to flower. We are growing it for the first time and it is stunning, with nearly black tips to the spotted, dark purple petals. More aconites have joined the carpets of snowdrops, and here and there we have found a few brave primroses around the garden.
It is still the dormant season for most plants and an ideal time to plant trees, shrubs and hedging. We have moved some fruit bushes this week, adding more blackcurrants and gooseberries to our soft fruit bed. In the next week we will begin to plant a hedge around the utility area in the Walled Garden. This is where we store SylvaGrow, PlantGrow and Strulch our growing medium and mulches, and it is where we have built the compost bays. We also have several propagation beds in this part of the garden and want to provide shelter as well as screening with a mixed hedge. Some of the roses which arrived last week will go into the hedge, as will some home-grown Osmanthus x burkwoodii, hawthorn, yew and beech.
When not outside we have been scratching our heads about how to keep ourselves and our students going during lockdown. We will start selling plants again in a few weeks, but in the meantime we have adapted some of our day courses and will start offering online workshops next week. Subjects will include veg growing, cut flower growing, fruit tree care, lawn care and several more. This is a great way to learn something new which you can put into practice immediately during lockdown. You will be able to plan your veg or flower patch, order your seeds, prune your apple trees, sort out your lawn. We will keep the workshop groups small so that everyone gets to ask questions, but this does mean they are likely to fill up fast. Do get in touch if you would like to register your interest and be among the first to hear about these workshops.
We may not have any upcoming face to face courses over the next few weeks, but we will open again soon, so do have a look at the programme and book yourself a place. If you know someone who needs cheering up you could always give them a gift voucher for a future course. Get in touch to find out more or to join our mailing list.
Plant of the Week
Cyclamen Coum is a perennial in the same family as primulas. It is excellent for under-planting trees and deciduous shrubs. The rounded leaves are sometimes marbled with silver on the upper surface, and they provide a good contrast to the deep pink flowers. The flowers have a purple blotch at the base of each lobe and open from late winter. Cyclamen coum grows best in moderately fertile, humus-rich, well-drained soil. Avoid excessive summer moisture and mulch well when the leaves wither.