I spoke too soon last week. The winds had not finished, and we returned to the Walled Garden later in the week to find the runner beans had keeled over. It has been very difficult to anchor them again properly and I think we will lose some of them. Lesson learnt for next year on building really robust supports before planting climbing beans. We have also had to pull up the outside tomatoes. They had started to show signs of blight, and once it begins there is nothing to be done. We got rid of them all and probably saved only half of the green tomatoes which showed none of the tell-tale brown blotchiness at all. They will be turned into green tomato chutney. Happily inside the Rhino Greenhouse, where most of the tomatoes are, the vines are healthy and fruit is ripening daily. We are also getting lot of delicious mini Beit Alpha cucumbers now, although keeping up with watering them can be a challenge. They really do need a drink each day.

Earlier in the summer we made sure that the only gate into the Walled Garden which is not solid was rabbit proof, adding a sturdy wire mesh to the lower half in a bid to keep the bunnies out. So we are really not sure how they have broken in again. But they have. The outdoor salad bed has been nibbled, which is particularly frustrating as this was to be the next crop for the Orangery Tearoom. We are sowing more seed and covering this little raised bed (made from a pallet collar) with netting to thwart any more hungry rabbits while we also work out how they are getting in and then make sure they are banished for good. One of the key benefits of a Walled Garden is supposed to be the ease with which you can keep rabbits and deer out!

We had a visit this week from the Royal Botanical Garden in Edinburgh (RBGE). They came to assess the School’s facilities for the Certificate in Practical Horticulture (CPH) which we will be offering very soon. It was a nerve wracking day, but it looks like all our work over the previous few weeks (including all that tidying up) was worth it. It was confirmed that we have everything we need in order to run the CPH at Norfolk School of Gardening. All we need to do now is finalise the agreement. So if you are interested in this hugely practical 10 week course which leads to certification from the highly regarded RBGE do get in touch with us. It is equally useful for professional gardeners seeking a recognised qualification as for amateurs who would like to understand more about everything from soil health to propagation.  We hope to start the first course in late September or early October.

Courses with availability in the next few weeks:

Plants for Free - Propagation & Seed Saving 6th September
All You Need to Know about Composting 7th September
Planning a Winter Cutting Garden 10th September
Lawn Care & Maintenance 14th September
Planting for Winter Structure & Colour 16th September
Floristry Workshop 1 - Hand Tied Bouquets 17th 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

Ceratostigma willmottianum - Plant of the Week from Norfolk School of Gardening

Ceratostigma willmottianum

Ceratostigma is a small deciduous shrub which is unremarkable for most of the year, but then comes into its own around now. It has small cobalt blue flowers which appear from late summer through autumn. The leaves turn an amazing red in autumn. It grows best in sun or partial shade in well drained soil. This Chinese plumbago is native to western China and Tibet and was brought to Britain in the late nineteenth century by the great plant collector EH Wilson. He named the plant after Miss Ellen Ann Willmot, a horticulturist and plantswoman from Warley Place in Essex who was the first recipient of the Victoria Medal of Honour in 1897 awarded by the RHS.

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Written by Ruth Darrah of NSG