December at Norfolk School of Gardening - Winter Mulching & Christmas Wreathing

December at Norfolk School of Gardening - Winter Mulching & Christmas Wreathing

Ruth and her expert gardening friends have advice on mulching your beds effectively and keeping colour in the garden over winter.

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The garden is continuing its retreat into winter and there have been several frosts this week. However, we do still have some colour in the beds, with the vibrant orange berries of Iris foetidissima (below) bursting from fat seedpods, Salvia Amistad still flowering, along with Geum Mrs Bradshaw and a gorgeous mahogany Rudbekia. There are gunmetal grey berries on the Viburnum tinus, and of course the stems of many shrubs in the dogwood and willow families are beginning to do their beautiful winter thing. All of this is a reminder that you really can have year-round colour as well as structure and other interest in the garden. We will be running our Planting for Year-Round Colour course again next year to help you plan interest for each month. Let us know if you would like to reserve a place.

It is a great time to be emptying leaf mould heaps or bags which have been rotting down for a couple of years to make space for this year’s leaves. We have been using leaf mould to mulch the beds on frost-free days (if you do it when the ground is really frosty you trap the cold in) and will save some to mix with compost for spring containers. Well-rotted compost from the main compost heap is being used as a mulch on the vegetable beds to add nutrients and structure to the soil. The frost and worms will do a lot to work it into the soil over the winter. And as we run out of homemade mulch we turn to the lovely Strulch mulch to cover the rest of the beds over the winter.

We have decided to plant a little orchard in the Walled Garden this winter. Some of the trees will be trained (espalier or fan) on the walls, using the Victorian fixings which are still there. We are even replacing an old pear for which the 1871 label is still attached to the wall. More on this project in the coming weeks.

Christmas arrived at Norfolk School of Gardening this week with our first Christmas Wreath workshops producing very beautiful wreaths. We still have one or two spaces next week on our Christmas Wreath and Table Decoration workshops so do get in touch if you would like to join us.


Upcoming courses with availability:

Christmas Table Decorations 10th December
Christmas Wreath Workshops 12th & 13th December
Introduction to Garden Design 16th January (6 week course starts)
Renovation Pruning 28th January
Certificate in Practical Horticulture 29th January (10 week course starts)
Introduction to Vegetable Growing 31st January


Plant of the Week

Iris foetidissima

Iris foetidissima

This is one of only two native irises (the other being Iris pseudacorus or flag Iris) and is an incredibly robust, evergreen plant which will grow almost anywhere. The flowers are rather understated but are a rather lovely purple grey and the bees love them. Commonly known as Stinking Iris, it comes into its own in autumn and winter when the seedpods dry and burst open to reveal bright orange berries. The birds and mice seem to ignore them, so they last for months, providing a splash of colour when much else in the garden is muted grey.


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