Well the broad beans are finally over. It seems to have been a great summer for them but we harvested the last of these and the purple podded peas this week, and the plants have been pulled up and are now on the compost heap. This leaves a bare raised bed which will be full of weeds in a few weeks’ time if we don’t plant something else. So we are planning to sow some more carrots and beetroot as well as some spinach. The root vegetables will have just about enough time to grow over the coming months, and the spinach will keep going through the winter. Over in the potato bed the first and second earlies have been lifted, and again we are planning some succession crops. We have already planted some slender leek seedlings from a friend, and now we are sowing kale and cabbage. We hope to be more successful in protecting these from the cabbage white butterflies than we have been in the main brassica bed. We did net the bed and that proved successful in keeping the pigeons out, but the holes were too big to thwart the butterflies and we are now on constant caterpillar watch!

The first tomatoes have been picked this week in the Rhino Greenhouse and I think we will have a heavy crop over the next couple of months, with the outside grown tomatoes also beginning to show some colour. They got into the ground late, but the addition of local soil improver, plant-based fertiliser PlantGrow seems to have given them the boost they needed and they look very healthy. We are continuing to supply the Orangery Tearoom with salad leaves and have sown more seeds in both the polytunnel and an outdoor raised bed to keep the supply going. The Tearoom has beautiful wallpaper which includes some orange flowers, and they have chosen to extend this colour scheme to the flowers on the tables. We have been cutting English marigolds (Calendula) for them over the past weeks, but we now also have Cosmos sulphureous ‘Polidor’ which are a fabulous orange and which have, like the Calendula, edible petals. Look out for them on your table or in your salad when you next visit!

Having been to Sandringham Flower Show as visitors last Wednesday in the sweltering heat, we had a busy but cooler day on Sunday with a stand at the CPRE Summer Fair at Raveningham Hall. The Hall has the most beautiful gardens and it was a lovely place to spend the day chatting to people. We shared our stand with Sarah Hammond from English Peonies. Sarah teaches our cutting garden and floristry courses and was selling some of her stunning hand tied bouquets of flowers grown on her farm in Knapton. The colour combinations were wonderful and lots of visitors stopped to admire (and buy) them. Sarah will be back with us on 10th September for Planning a Winter Cutting Garden, and we are planning a six week floristry course this autumn. Do let us know if you are interested in joining us.

Courses with availability in the next few weeks:

Plants for Free - Propagation and Seed Saving 6th September
All You Need to Know about Composting 7th September
Planning a Winter Cutting Garden 10th September
Certificate in Horticulture starts 11th September (10 weeks)
Introduction to Garden Design starts 12th September (6 weeks)
Lawn Care & Maintenance 14th September
Planting for Winter Structure & Colour 16th September
Planting Pots & Containers 20th September
What You Need To Do In The Garden Now 21st September
Better Borders 23rd September

Plant of the Week

Verbena bonariensis

Verbena bonariensis

 This short-lived perennial is a native of South America, where it grows in wet fields and waste lands. The clusters of small purple flowers are carried on tall, upright, square stems in late summer to early autumn. Verbena bonariensis is often used in prairie planting schemes but looks good in most mixed borders where it provides height and movement while taking up very little space at ground level. It is best in full sun on moist but well drained soil.

It may be short-lived but it often self-seeds around the garden with seedlings appearing in spring. It can also be propagated from seed in spring or from a stem cutting in late summer to over winter.

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Written by Ruth Darrah of NSG