You may have seen some photos of our Walled Garden on social media (Facebook and Instagram) in the past week. The shadows are definitely lengthening earlier in the day and the light has changed, but there is still a lot going on in the garden and loads of colour in all of the beds, whether vegetables or flowers. As we move into September and our autumn courses get going, we have taken a brief moment to look back over the past few months and realise just how far we have come and how much the garden has changed. If you walked into the Walled Garden for the first time today, I think you would be surprised to learn that it was an empty field seven short months ago.
Back in February, there was just lots of grass plus the gorgeous nineteenth century potting shed in the corner. Well of course the potting shed is still there, but while it looks the same from the outside, inside it has been transformed into a well organised tool shed and occasional refuge from the weather. There is even a gas ‘wood burner’ to make it cosy when we really need to warm up. We have put up the Direct Plants polytunnel which currently doubles as a growing space for salad and an outdoor classroom cum potting shed. The Rhino greenhouse arrived in April and looks like it has always been there. It is currently full of ripening tomatoes and cucumbers as well as various seedlings for next year. There are raised vegetable beds and traditional perennial borders as well as the cut flower beds, still bursting with colourful sweet peas, Dahlias, Cosmos, sunflowers and Amaranthus. Our stock beds are filling up, and so are our recently created pruning beds. In fact, all in all the Walled Garden is full of life and growth.
We have attracted our fair share of pests over the last few months (rabbits, pigeons, aphids, slugs, caterpillars…) and we have managed to protect our plants from the worst of their ravages using only physical barriers such as netting, Strulch mulch and eggshells or natural sprays such as garlic water and fatty acids. Next year we plan to start using biological pest control in the greenhouse, including the tiny parasitic wasp to control white fly. But the best news is that in changing the monoculture which existed just months ago in the Walled Garden, we have attracted predatory insects such as ladybirds and lacewings which help control aphid populations. This week greenfly have returned to the sweet peas, but this time there are lots of ladybirds busily doing their bit to get rid of them. Other insects have appeared, and we have been delighted at the range of pollinators which have found their way in the Walled Garden, from several species of butterfly to honey bees, from several different bumble bees to hoverflies.
Our new term gets underway this week with propagation and composting courses, and there are lots of other options over the coming weeks. So do take a look at the Course Calendar on the website and see if you can find something you would like to do.
Courses with availability in the next few weeks:
Planning a Winter Cutting Garden 10th September
Introduction to Garden Design starts 12th September (8 weeks)
Lawn Care & Maintenance 14th September
Planting for Winter Structure & Colour 16th September
Floristry Workshop 1 - Hand-Tied Bouquets 16th September
What you Need To Do In The Garden Now 21st September
Better Borders 23rd July
Floristry Workshop 2 - Foam Free Arrangements 24th September
Floristry Workshop 3 - Large Urn Arrangements 1st October
Basic Tree Survey & Inspection 4th October
Plant of the Week
Clematis heracleifolia or Tube Clematis, is a deciduous sub-shrub scrambling plant discovered in China in 1837. It has herbaceous, slightly downy stems. It grows to 75cm and has tubular, fragrant blue flowers which appear mid-summer and are followed by fluffy seed heads. Like most Clematis, C. heracleifolia grows best in full sun in moist, well-drained soil. The roots should be kept cool by placing a stone at the base or it should be planted where the roots can be shaded by a shrub.