The winds of last weekend did not pass us by. In fact the effect of the high, impermeable walls probably makes the gusts stronger at times in the Walled Garden. Happily the polytunnel was not damaged, but the taller plants took a bit of a beating. The crop of runner beans has been very heavy over the past few weeks, but of course the accompanying leaf growth has been equally abundant, and this has made the supports somewhat top-heavy. We noticed the structure beginning to lean heavily and managed to rig up more supports with guy ropes ahead of the worst of the wind and the beans are still standing. The sunflowers were also a bit battered but they had passed their best already and look like they may give us a few more blooms regardless.

The summer tidy up in the Walled Garden has continued and we have laid gravel in and around the Rhino greenhouse with weed suppressing membrane underneath. In the autumn we will add cold frames and they can sit on the gravel along the side of the greenhouse to extend our growing season and enable us to overwinter plants and cuttings. Inside the greenhouse we have been potting on wallflower seedlings. We sowed these quite early and they grew strongly. However this year seems to have been a bad one for flea beetles (anyone else noticed them?). They not only eat rocket (peppering the leaves with tiny, unsightly holes) but they also like, among other things, wallflowers. A few weeks ago it looked like we might have to start again, but the flea beetles have now gone and healthy new leaves have grown. It now looks like we will have lots of healthy plants to overwinter and use out in the borders next year.

This week’s pest has been the caterpillar. Inevitably the brassicas which have not been fully protected from the Large White and Small White butterflies have been munched by armies of their caterpillars (the ones we haven’t spotted and removed). But these butterflies clearly also fancy Cleomes as a good place to lay their eggs and raise their caterpillars. We spotted this by chance last week and have been on caterpillar alert every day since. At the moment it looks like we are winning that battle, but there will be another one before long!

September is going to be a very busy month for us with lots of day courses and a couple of longer courses starting. Do have a look at the calendar now and let us know if you would like to join us on any of these courses. And don’t forget to book your place on one of the Christmas wreath workshops which are booking up.

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
Introduction to Garden Design starts 12th September (6 weeks)
Lawn Care & Maintenance 14th September
Planting for Winter Structure & Colour 16th September
Floristry Workshop 1 - Hand Tied Bouquets 17the September
Planting Pots & Containers 20th September
What You Need to Do in the Garden Now 21st September
Better Borders 23rd September
Floristry Workshop 2 - Foam Free Arrangements 24th September

Plant of the Week

Helianthus Lemon Queen - Sunflower Variety Plant of the Week from Norfolk School of Gardening, Greenhouses Direct

Helianthus Lemon Queen

Helianthus, the botanical name for sunflower, comes from the Greek word helios meaning sun, and anthus meaning flower. These perennial sunflowers are useful for their late summer and autumn flowers. Lemon Queen is a widely grown cultivar. It can reach 1.7m and has lots of pale soft yellow flowerheads.  It is a good plant for a larger border, grows vigorously but is not an aggressive spreader. Helianthus needs to grow in full sun in a sheltered position and benefits from staking early in the summer. It will come back year after year and provide wonderful colour at a time of year when many other flowers have finished. 

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Written by Ruth Darrah of NSG