The frost has finally got to the dahlias. They have been hanging on in the Walled Garden, rising above the ground frosts of the past few weeks, but the hard frost early this week proved their undoing and they are over. We shall miss their vibrant, cheerful colours. We will not be digging them up for the winter as our soil is well-drained and frost is unlikely to penetrate too deeply, but we will now cut the frost-damaged stems down and mulch the plants well with Strulch to protect them from cold and damp over the coming months. There are other plants to tidy up after this week’s frost. The Cosmos and Nicotiana, which have also given their best over the past couple of months, are blackened and will be added to the compost heap. It does feel sad, this final passing of the late summer flowers, but it has made planting the final bulbs even more poignant: colour will return to the garden in the weeks and months to come and we will be waiting.

Over in our new winter border we are beginning to see the intended effect of our planting combinations. The Cornus alba have lost their leaves and the dark red stems are looking wonderful against the growing back drop of Osmanthus burkwoodii and Prunus lusitanica, the Portuguese laurel. This is also where the first flowers will appear, as we have underplanted with snowdrops and have recently added miniature Narcissi.

In the classroom we had the last week of our Botanical Printmaking Course. This new course has been a huge success and returns in January with a change in emphasis and materials. Do get in touch if you are interested in joining us. There are still several courses running over the coming weeks, with one or two spaces available, including Fruit Tree Care on 11th December and Basic Slab Laying on the 16th. Courses in January and February are also booking up, so if you would like something to look forward to in your diary do have a look at our calendar.

The Christmas Wreath workshops are underway and there are a couple of spaces left next week on two of these lovely festive occasions. If you would like to join us do get in touch quickly to book a place. And if you are looking for a Christmas present for the gardeners in your life don’t forget that we offer personalised gift vouchers.


Upcoming courses with availability:
  • Christmas Wreath Workshops –3rd (AM/PM)
  • Fruit Tree Care – 11th December
  • Basic Slab Laying – 16th December
  • Botanical Printmaking (6-week course) – 11th January
  • Planting Trees, shrubs, hedges – 13th January
  • Renovation Pruning – 22nd January
  • Border Renovation – 5th February


Plant of the Week

 Fatsia japonica or paper plant. Round seed heads with long spokes coming away from the stem. Large dark green leaves.

Fatsia japonica

Also known as the paper plant, the Fatsia japonica is a stunning, medium-sized evergreen shrub from brought to England from Japan in 1838. It has large, polished, dark green, palmate leaves which create a sub-tropical effect. It can be used as a house plant in a cool room. It flowers from October through to December, with panicles of milk-white flower heads followed by black berries in the spring. Fatsia japonica grows well in sun or semi-shade on all types of well-drained soil.


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Written by Ruth Darrah of NSG