Friday, 23 March 2012

March Miscellany

The perfect spot for soaking up the sun and writing garden notes
I’ve been out and about in the last seven days, as well as venturing into the garden. The square-metre plot moving forwards. This time last year, it was not even created, and now flourishes. Sitting on my favourite faux-French sea-blue chairs, under a canopy of sweet-scented golden mahonia, alive with honey-bees, I soak up the sun and make notes. The buzz if bees is everywhere. On the flowering box-balls, and the red-deadnettle weed, deliberately left to provide early pollen.

I am suddenly aware of the sweet violets purpling the shrubbery. They have spread and invaded the path – a happy accident, so I plan to crystalise some. The blue hyssop, which I had thought was dead, is sprouting new growth; good for bees come summer. This morning, the flower buds on my Redlove® Circe apple are about to open, so sheltered is this little courtyard garden, bordered by shrubbery.  A couple more trees would be perfect to aid pollination – maybe Redlove® Era which fruits slightly later than Circe. As Dobies currently have a special offer running, saving 79% on a second tree, now would seem to be a sensible time to purchase this delicious red-fleshed apple.

Double-click on this beautiful National Trust plan if you want to see it in more detail
Two weeks ago, I was blogging about the value of visiting gardens for inspiration and tips for our readers’ plots. I marveled at the restoration work occurring at Knighthayes Court in Devon. Yesterday was even more special: the discovery at Packwood House, near Solihull, Warwickshire, of another remarkable project: to reclaim the walled ‘gentleman farmer’s garden’ of the early 1700s. using historical documents, National Trust gardeners will recreate what was a vital part of one family’s self-sufficient home. 

Much is already emerging in here at Packwood House - progress will be reported in coming months
The documentation was fascinating – “the eighteenth century larder: kitchen gardens provided abundant resources, focusing on variety not quantity. Less familiar herbs and flowers grew amongst vegetables, with uses stretching far beyond cooking: from flavourings to dyes, sedatives to disinfectants, perfumes to poisons, and also medicines for people and animals alike.” Fruit in abundance, with step-over apples as bed edging; wide borders of flowers for cutting (some medicinal), herbs and vegetables already well-advanced, and quite a few quirky additions. Central to the garden is the ‘dipping pool’ which is currently being lovingly relined and will no doubt be returned to its traditional use of can-dipping for watering plants.

I came home full of enthusiasm for our own mini-plots – for we have gardened here in the north Cotswolds over the last 40-odd years very much along similar eco-friendly principles; and this year, despite increasing age (and health willing), will see further attempts at bio-diversity. I plan to make a Bug Barn from reclaimed materials, and will at some later stage provide readers with my notes.

Massed wild daffodils at Packwood (I rush home an pick an armful
of my own from within our orchard)
Tomorrow night (Sat 24th Match) the clocks go back: more time of an evening to enjoy the garden after work. And time I always think to reflect on the past winter and new beginnings for the months ahead. With this in mind, our forthcoming April e-newsletter will bring some exciting changes – same format, shift in topics. And of course, we hope you like our Blog posts – please spread the word! And to make your search on Dobies website for seeds (quick - special offer until mid-day Monday 26th March), plants, vegetables and flowers, fruit and herbs, plus sundries and equipment, that much easier, click on any of the highlighted links to speed you on your way to a productive garden.

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