We seem to have had all the weather this week. The weekend was gloriously sunny and warm and in between picking flowers and harvesting vegetables we did have to do a lot of watering. Everything in pots still needs lots of water as the dry, relatively warm weather continues, and even the rain of the past few days has not penetrated far into any of the containers or raised beds. If you are beginning to plant bulbs in pots don’t forget to water them every now and then. We have also been deadheading to keep flowers going for a few more weeks. The tiny Viola, the Cosmos sulphureus and the Calendula, which we pick for Orangery Tearoom afternoon teas, should keep flowering for some time to come if we carry on picking and deadheading.

We are continuing to fill our propagation and pruning beds with shrubs such as Buddleia, Weigela, Fuchsia and Cornus. All of these will grow fast and are robust enough to withstand repeated haircuts by students! We will add more plants over the coming weeks as we build our stock for the practical courses in the months to come. Similarly, we are propagating lots of perennials in the Rhino greenhouse which will also be used on next year’s courses. We now have wallflowers, Verbena rigida, Alchemilla mollis and ox-eye daisies ready to plant out. We have been potting on some seed grown biennials too and each week there are more seeds ripening in the garden to collect and store. Propagating is so satisfying – we are producing hundreds of plants for practically nothing (and re-using plastic pots donated to us by friends and students). If you would like to join us on our next Plants for Free, course do get in touch. It is on 21st November.

This week saw the second of the new series of Floristry Workshops, focusing on individual arrangements and using the containers brought in by the students. Sarah Hammond only uses foam free methods, so we looked at and used a range of traditional ways to support the flowers, including glass flower frogs, pin holders, chicken wire scrunched into the container and floristry tape to create a grid over the container. Once again, the flowers and foliage Sarah had brought from her flower farm in Knapton were stunning and included flame coloured leaves from her peony plants as well as copper beech leaves, Cotoneaster berries, Fuchsia magellanica and endless Dahlias, Cosmos and Zinnias. The results were stunning. Next week’s workshop looks at large urn arrangements and we have a couple of spaces if you would like to join us for a relaxed and very enjoyable morning.

Don’t forget to book your place on one of our Christmas Wreath and Christmas Table Decoration workshops in early December. Some of the days are nearly full, but we do have spaces left.

Courses with availability in the next few weeks:

Basic Tree Survey  Inspection 4th October
Border Renovation 18th October
Pruning Shrubs  Roses 24th October
Renovation Pruning 1st November
Basic Bricklaying 2nd November
Planting Shrubs Trees 14th November
Plants for Free - Propagation & Seed Saving 21st November

Plant of the Week

 Rowan Ash Tree berries in autumn - Plant of the Week from Norfolk School of Gardening

Sorbus aucuparia

Commonly known as Rowan or Mountain Ash, the Sorbus aucuparia is a native, upright deciduous tree. Clusters of white flowers in spring are followed by bright orange-red berries in early autumn. Aucuparia means a bird-catcher, referring to the attractiveness of the berries to birds. This an excellent tree for the wildlife garden, can be grown in sun or shade, and on neutral or acid soil.

The rowan has a long history in English folklore as protection against witchcraft. The colour red has particular association with being powerful protection against enchantment. In Wales, Rowans were traditionally planted in graveyards to keep out negative forces and evil spirits.

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Written by Ruth Darrah of NSG