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The blustery and wet weather has continued to hamper gardening this week, although the mild temperatures are tempting plants into flower and blossom far earlier than usual. In the short sunny intervals we have spotted honey bees visiting the blossom, ladybirds amongst the dead leaves and even the odd hoverfly. No doubt the aphids are about to make an unwelcome appearance, but at least some of their prey are ready and waiting.
We have spent a lot of time in the shelter of the Rhino greenhouse again, potting up plants for the horticulture students. This week they will be learning how to feed and water correctly and they need dozens of plants to practice on. We have lifted and divided lots of perennial geraniums and Sysyrinchium which are now sitting in neat rows awaiting water. We have also planted lots of copper beech trees which will be dug up and replanted on the tree planting session in a few weeks’ time. In fact they will probably be dug up and replanted several more times over the coming months as we teach course participants how to plant, stake, tie, protect, feed and water trees.
We have been looking at old photos of Ketteringham Hall and the Walled Garden and there is a fascinating one from the 1960s, the last time the gardens were cultivated. At the time the Hall was the home of a prep school, Badingham College and the Walled Garden is neatly divided into fruit and vegetable beds with fruit trees trained against the walls and the Irish yews marking the central pathways. The yews still survive although they have had to be seriously reduced after decades of neglect and will take a few years before they look their best once more. This was probably the most intensively productive time in the Walled Garden’s history and we are the fortunate heirs of the wonderful soil which was clearly properly looked after for many years. The Walled Garden is unlikely ever to look as it did in the 1960s or earlier, but life has certainly returned in the shape of people, plants, pollinators (and a few pests). If you would like to see the photo it is on our Facebook and Instagram pages.
Upcoming courses with availability:
Gardening Under Glass 6th March
Border Renovation 10th March
Plants for Free: Propagation Workshop 13th March
What Needs Doing Now 14th March
Planting for Year-Round Colour 20th March
Dahlia Workshop 26th March
Basic Slab Laying 27th March
Certificate in Practical Horticulture- 10 week course courses starting 29th April & 2nd May
Plant of the Week
The snowdrop is one of the first flowers of the year. Native to Turkey, Greece and the Caucasus, it is believed to have been introduced to Britain by the Victorians. Galanthus is a dwarf bulbous perennial with linear or strap-shaped leaves, and solitary, often honey-scented, nodding white flowers which have a wide variety of different green or even yellow markings. They grow in humus-rich, moist but well-drained soil which does not dry out in summer and are best in semi-shade. The many snowdrop walks today have their origins in the nineteenth century when the mania for snowdrops prompted the creation of woodland gardens.