With lots of propagation taking place throughout July, our stocks of plants for sale are starting to build up once again following our success with plant sales during lockdown.
August has arrived and we have found ourselves working with a new routine, one that is based almost totally outside, and taking advantage of all the facilities that the walled garden has to offer. Photography, painting and drawing have all been a part of our creative programme, and everyone has been fully involved in weeding, watering and harvesting the fruit and vegetables that are now ready for eating.
The recent heatwave has presented its challenges, however we have all managed to make small adjustments to work in the garden and managed to keep cool and hydrated, and have also managed to keep the plants all watered too.
Our lawns are finally getting back in shape, with lots of mowing, and edges being cut neatly. The apple tree beds have also been weeded a number of times, and the borders are now all looking tidy again. As yet we have to start working outside of the walls on the beds to the south of the garden, this will come in time, but for now we are concentrating on working in an environment away from the public, which we can all stay as safe as possible wiithin.
Produce, flowers and plants are now all on sale on the plant stand to the side of the garden, and so are now accessible to the public while out on walks around the estate.
Enter July, and along with it a number of days of rain. With the weeds in the garden being kept on top of the last three months, the warmth and rain has brought abut a sudden surge in growth, all beds through the garden have needed attention, in particular the apple tree beds and the two large vegetable beds.
With the garden reopening to our members on the 6th of July, work weeding and mowing started quickly and within just a few hours the garden was starting to look notably different, with barrows of weeds being pulled up and the lawns all getting a post lockdown haircut by our members.
Meantime in the greenhouses and marquee spaces work was started by our members on propagation, to produce new plant stock for sale, following our record plant sales in the last two months. Already lots of plant divisions and cuttings have been taken, and watered in, we are now waiting for the warm weather to help the process of rooting before we can pot up and restock our plant stand that is now up and running again in the car park area to the side of the walled garden.
As we move into the month of June, the weather has been really dry, and looks set to continue to be pretty good in the weeks ahead, so we are busy watering our plants at the garden to keep things growing well. The vegetable beds are now all planted, and with water and lots of weeding, we are hoping to have plenty of vegetable plants to tend when we reopen our doors to our members.
During the lockdown, staff and volunteers have been really busy with tending plants and transporting them safely to a number of plans sales stands around Norfolk and Suffolk. With everyones efforts, over £2300 has been raised through plant sales, all of which helps to support the activities that take place at Beyond the Wall. Our plants are all grown from seed or cuttings and are propagated by our members and volunteers, and so are always very well looked after.
With Thornham Walks now reopening their permissive paths to the public, people are able to walk past the garden on country walks once again (we are sorry, but we need to keep our garden closed to the public with he ongoing Corina Virus Pandemic). So with the estate now reopened to the public we have set up our usual plant sales stand to the side of the garden, and are now able to sell plants from the garden once more.
The team would like to extend their thanks to our volunteers who have all helped to make the plant sales so successful this year during a very difficult period, watering, transport, selling and tending the plants has all taken a lot of time and energy. We would also like to say a massive thank you to all the people who have bought a plant, flowers and rhubarb that we have grown and harvested from he garden during this time. We hope that your plants grow well and enhance your own garden this summer.
As we move into May, with the country still in lock down and Beyond the Wall still closed for a while yet, our greenhouses have still been pretty busy, with plants growing speedily a the weather has slowly gotten warmer and brighter.
Over the last 5 weeks or so Phill has been in three times a week to water the plants and to sow seeds, so that when we reopen we will have vegetables crops to tend and harvest. The rest of the garden is also being kept in check, with lawns being mown and the worst of the weeds being dealt with.
With Thornham, Walks closed, we have not been able to set up our usual plant sales stand to the side of the garden, but with the support of our volunteers and team, we have been able to get plants dropped off (being sure to wear gloves and disinfect while transporting) to a few villages and locations nearby, where they have been able to be sold to people out on their daily permitted walk/exercise routine.
If you live in Gisslingham, Diss, Westhorpe or Debenham, then our plants will be on sale for a very good price indeed, and with the passing of frosts we will be adding pelargoniums and tender houseplants to our range of stock for sale, so keep an eye out for a bargain.
Sadly, due to the Covid-19 outbreak, the decision had to be made to close the adult day care provision that we provide at Beyond the Wall, this came in to effect from Friday 20th March, and is initially for a one month period. With this closure the walled garden will also be closed to the public, as the walks on the estate are now also closed.
Mrs P is continuing to be looked after, as well as the plants in the greenhouse, so that when we reopen things can get back to usual as soon as possible.
The NGS open day on the 4th April has also had to be cancelled, however we are aiming to work with NGS to have another ‘pop up’ open day later in the year.
Meantime staff are busy using our social media platforms to be in contact with our members, volunteers and supporters during this unusual time. Keep an eye on our Facebook page for service and garden updates as well as an abundance of fun activities that we can still all share in together.
We have been fortunate to have been awarded funding for the garden during the early part of 2020. With having recently been awarded funding for a selection of new tools and servicing of mowers, we looked at the priority need of the garden, and have been able to now complete the gravelling of the paths that was started some two years ago. Funding at that point allowed for the front part of the garden to have its paths re-gravelled, so that they could be brought back to their former glory. With new bags of gravel arriving, many of the members, volunteers and staff have lent hands to make light of a heavy job with borrowing gravel onto the path to the rear of the walled gardens. We have also been able to take the opportunity to add gravel to refresh the marquee area and a couple fo patches on the front paths that needed attention. Beyond the Wall would like to thank everyone who has been able to assist in this funding bid, and in laying the gravel, so that our paths can be enjoyed by visitors as much as the plants within the walled garden.
While gardening in a walled garden set in the middle of a wood, its notable that many weeds are prolific, plants that grow around us in abundance. Obviously having weeds this does not fit well with the look of a formal walled garden, however this year we have chosen to celebrate a number of the weeds with which we are familiar with. With propagating underway we have amassed a modest amount of plant material, that as we come to the end of February will be planted out in a new bed created on the moving of old compost bins. This bed will be planted to contrast the usual seemingly random growing habit that weeds adopt, we hope that it will highlight these weeds as plants, and that they can be appreciated in a different way to usual, and of course with them being members of the local plant community, we hole that this planting will be good for the surrounding wildlife too.
Maintenance of our collection of apple trees is an ongoing job, spanning the year, but with trees being out of leaf over winter is the time when we step up the pruning work. Over the last three three winters pruning work has centred around pruning to get the trees back to a manageable size and attractive shape, pruning for fruit has not been our priority, that is until now.
As the trees started to go dormant, back in the autumn, a few larger branches were pruned out, to tweak previous years of shaping, and then in January trees that were not pruned last winter were hard pruned to get them more to the shape and formation that we are aiming for. With it now being February we have started work on pruning the water growth of last year, thinning the stems and also shortening them, which is hoped will encourage the formation of fruiting spurs. This has been a job that many people have lent time and energy towards, with a simple pruning guideline instruction given, this type of pruning has been relatively easy for pruning beginners to grasp and do to a good standard.
With all of our festive celebrations now a distant memory our focus has turned to preparation of the garden for the year ahead. While January is often a dark, wet and cold month, the weather is not stopping us from being busy and getting a number of the big jobs done.
So far this month we have been working of reorganising our fire pit, so that we can burn apple tree branches form our pruning. This area is now looking neat and tidy and is filling up with branches from the first set of apple trees that were not pruned last year. Work with pruning will continue next month when we start pruning the trees that were pruned last year (later pruning can encourage blossom, often referred to as pruning for fruit). The orchard has also had a general tidy, with lots of weeding and bed edges re-cut neatly.
We have also been busy with the greenhouses, with glass cleaning already started inside and out and giving them a general clean and tidy. Planting outside has also started, with plants being positioned in gaps that have appeared over the previous growing season. All good prep for our first National Garden Scheme (NGS) opening on the 4th of April, where the whole garden will be open to the public.