I have to say that we are not the only ones finding the current heatwave a bit much. Some of the vegetables and flowers are definitely suffering a bit, but there is still lots of lovely colour, and the sweet peas look set to carry on for weeks. We are harvesting baby courgettes daily now, and the broad beans are still going strong. We have added a few more grasses and Echinacea to the prairie bed and plan to mulch that bed with Strulch too once there has been some rain. The most striking flowers at the moment are the Red Sun sunflowers which were planted by the children who came on our Family Activity days at Easter. They are towering above us and getting top heavy, with multiple flowers atop their thick stems. The bees love them and seem to spend hours on their huge russet heads. The only downside is that they were planted next to the maize and on the wrong side, so they are taking their sun. I suspect we won’t have many heads of corn this year.

Over in the Rhino greenhouse the last few days of very hot weather have shown how effective the Rhino sun blinds are. It was actually cooler INSIDE the greenhouse than out. These innovative shades are on the outside of the glass, preventing the sun from heating up the air inside. Very clever. The tomatoes are growing strongly and are showing the first signs of ripening. The cucumbers are in the smaller, partitioned section, and they too are very healthy. Cucumbers suffer easily from mildew, so it is best to keep them separate from the tomatoes (which benefit from the greenhouse floor being dampened down when it is really hot to keep humidity levels high).

Earlier in the week we made an exciting discovery in the Walled Garden. A young hedgehog was found hiding out under some comfrey behind an old fruit tree stump. We are thrilled it has made its way into the garden and really hope it stays. We can do with all the help we can get to protect our plants from slugs and snails! (Click here for more simple ways to help the wildlife in your garden.)

We spent a couple of days in the last week up in Edinburgh at the Royal Botanic Garden discussing their 10 week Certificate in Practical Horticulture course. It was wonderful to spend time in this beautiful garden and to meet the Education team. We are so excited about this well regarded, prestigious course and expect to start running it in late September. It will be great to be able to offer Norfolk and Suffolk gardeners an accredited course in the fundamentals of gardening, whether they are professionals or keen amateurs. Watch this space, but do email us if you are interested in joining the first course as spaces will be limited. We will run it again in January. 

Courses with availability in the next few weeks:

Plants for Free - Propagation & Seed Saving 6th September
All You Need to Know about Composting 7th July
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
Planting Pots & Containers 20th September
What You Need To Do in the Garden Now 21st September
Better Borders 23rd September

Plant of the Week

 Francoa Sonchifolia flower from Ketteringham Hall, Norfolk School of Gardening.

Francoa sonchifolia

A perennial native of Chile, where it grows in dry areas in rock crevices on the sides of gorges. Francoa forms mats of soft hairy leaves and the 60cm long stems bear wands of small pink or sometimes white flowers or shades in between. Francoa sonchifolia grows in sun or semi shade and prefers good fertile soil. It is as good in the centre of a bed as at the front, since the wands of flowers are dainty and tall enough to be see-through.

This plant is named in honour of Franciso Franco, a 16th century physician from Valencia, Spain. Its common name is Bridal Wreath or the Wedding Flower.

Contact us via www.norfolkschoolofgardening.co.uk or follow us on Instagram and Facebook.

Double rainbow over Ketteringham Hall, Norfolk School of Gardening

Written by Ruth Darrah of NSG