Within the garden walls
The weeks seem to slip by so quickly at this time of year as blooms come and go. Fortunately there’s still plenty to keep the interest in the gardens else you could get depressed as we hurtle towards the longest day. While you’ll be seeing Rhododendrons in flower for at least another couple of months, perhaps it’s the gardens bounty that will start to take centre stage and something we’ve been working hard on improving this year more than any other.
I’m wise not to get too carried away with too much optimism when it comes to produce in the kitchen garden but after three years of practice I think we’re starting to get to grips with things within the walls. Perhaps what we’ve done differently this year compared to others past is grow much more under glass (and plastic). Space is always at a premium at Stoneywell and we certainly don’t have the luxury of a glasshouse but with a bit of a reshuffle and a generous offer of a temporary coldframe we’ve crammed as many propagators in as possible to get things going regardless of the weather and perhaps most importantly better protected from the slugs. Soon we will be installing a bespoke hand crafted cedar coldframe which should help us continue the good work.
Other lessons learnt include a lack of brassicas which have never coped well against all the wildlife, but then there are some things where perhaps we ought to have thrown in the towel long ago but refuse to do so! About 3 years ago I created a somewhat crude raised bed with all my dry stone walling know how which was limited, filled it with as much organic matter as possible and planted some Asparagus crowns, a month or so later a rather pathetic looking withered spear appeared, much to my excitement, to then vanish completely by the following week. Not put off we went again the following year and went backwards, but third time lucky when we should have got the hint, we have… something. To call it a spear may be a bit much, maybe it’s more of a pin but it’s a lot better than our past efforts and if you want me I’ll probably be sat on my wall guarding it.
All other members of the garden gang will continue with the hard work of the rest of the garden though, fear not, things can easily get away from you at this time of year and in many respects it’s now that we put in the hard work for next year’s Rhododendron display and the like with a big proportion of our pruning happening after Rhododendrons have flowered and just about anything else for that matter especially if the plant has no significant fruit.
On my agenda before the excitement of the Asparagus is, forever, grass paths and we’re finally making strides there (though not on them yet). Top soil was brought in, an appropriate seed mix has been chosen and sown and we’ve one or two areas with diversions in place… but now we wait. Recent rain is well timed so we should I hope be able to rest areas that are in desperate need of it in the not too distant future without any great inconvenience to visitors.
As for the bounty I mentioned, soon you will be able to pick your own alpine strawberries and bilberries just as long as you leave some for the birds and enough room for something more substantial in the tearoom!
See you soon?