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It has been another incredibly busy week in the Walled Garden. Having done so much propagation over the last weeks and months we have accumulated a lot of plants, and with no prospect of face-to-face courses starting in the next month or so they will not now be used for teaching purposes. So we have taken the decision to sell some of them. In the space of a few days we have turned ourselves into a mini-nursery operation and having sent out a plant list to our mailing list we have been assembling and delivering orders locally (up to 20 miles away). We have left boxes of plants in gateways and on doormats, sometimes to people in shielded lockdown, so we have not met most of our customers, but it has been lovely to get lots of positive feedback afterwards and to know that our plants have been going to such appreciative new homes. We will produce an updated plant list most weeks over the next couple of months as more plants become ready, and it will include vegetables, herbaceous perennials, grasses and annual flowers.
It has been exciting to see cuttings that were taken only a few weeks ago take root and put on new growth. Germination of some seeds has been erratic, but others have been very successful. I don’t know if anyone else has had poor results with runner beans this spring, but if you are interested in growing cardoons we may be able to help you with a few dozen plants!
Interestingly there is still no sign of aphids in the Walled Garden. This time last year the lupins were infested and we actually started bringing ladybirds in from home. This year they are about to burst into flower with no aphid damage at all. We didn’t have a cold winter so that cannot be the explanation. Does anyone have a theory? If so do get in touch. Meanwhile we are trying to learn the names of the different bumblebee species which are already visiting the Walled Garden. There are definitely at least three different ones, though the only one we are confident about identifying so far is the red-tailed bumblebee.
We don’t know how long this crisis will last but we would love to hear from you if you are interested in joining us later in the year on any of our courses. We will add you to our mailing list and keep you posted when things begin to return to normal.
Plant of the Week
Magnolia sieboldii subsp. sinensis
This is a large, spreading, deciduous shrub with dark green, ovate leaves and cup-shaped fragrant white flowers which are 10cm across and have prominent crimson stamens. The flowers appear intermittently from May to August. The shrub is best in sun or semi shade and will tolerate a wide range of soils that are moist but well drained. It does best in neutral to acid soil but can be grown in alkaline soils if given an autumn mulch.
This Magnolia is native to China and Japan and is named after Philip Franz von Siebold, a German doctor who introduced plants from Japan to European gardens in the late 19th century.