The double border is looking lush and is full of colour now, June really is the start of the summer season in the garden for a variety of colour, and while the double border is our central focal point the two rose borders are also a riot of colour, both from the bush roses and the rambling roses that are growing up the walls.
In the orchard the apples are starting to develop nicely, so far it’s looking promising for a good harvest of fruit after last years blossom catching frosts, leaving the trees bare.
The biggest change over the last month is in the vegetable beds in the kitchen garden, where with watering and weeding being completed, the vegetable plants that have been planted are all growing quickly, already we have courgettes coming on and onions are starting to bulk up. Potatoes have started to flower, which means that it will not be long till we are lifting them, expect lots of freshly harvested produce to be on sale in our garden sales area to the side of the garden, and on our stand in Eye Market every Wednesday morning.
Work has started on summer pruning, we have started work on our pear trees around the double border, we will progress soon to trees against walls and the apple tree cordons in the weeks ahead, before starting work on the annual hedge cutting.
We are of course open weekdays and on Sundays through the summer thanks to our volunteers, and with free entry, it’s a great garden to come to throughout the year to se how it changes with the seasons.
Following the success of our Blossom Day at the start of the month, we have reopened our cafe in the glasshouses on a Thursday, and are now selling hot and cold drinks as well as home made cakes and treats, all made within the garden.
Our plant sales area continues to grow, with the addition of two new stands by the cafe, all of which can be bought, and offer a flavour of the walled garden to take home and plant in your own green space.
Meantime in the garden we have all been very busy. lots of propagation and potting up of plants for plant sales, mowing of lawns, digging of beds, but with recent rain and now warmer days, weeds are one of our main focuses now that we have the vegetable beds and allotment projects all planted up.
We spend a lot of time through the summer weeding, but it can be a sociable job, with us working in teams on specific areas to make them look tidy, much chatter and enjoyment is had by all in the process. We hope that as people come to visit that the fruits of our labour is enjoyed and make a super backdrop to a walk or day out.
Our annual Blossom Day has not been able to go ahead over the last two years due to restrictions due to the pandemic, so this year it was especially nice to be able to open the gates of the walled garden to the public, to enjoy the garden and our hospitality.
Teas and home made cake as well as raffle and music were set alongside a BBQ and plant sales on one of our lawns, set among the apple trees and aside the double border, all maintained by the people who access our day service provision, many comments were heard about how well the garden was maintained, and that our cakes were delicious.
Our blossom day indeed had plenty of blossom, our apple trees are currently in full bloom, and look splendid, and with a day of sunshine and blue skies, were really set off to full effect.
Our new plant sales area and newly styled cafe, set within one of the glasshouses were also on show, and will be open through the summer (check our website for opening details),
The staff team would like to thank all those who helped to make the day a big success, and of course the many people who attended, making the event one of our busiest.
We look forward to seeing people through the summer, on return visits, and hope that you enjoy watching the seasonal changes that the walled garden has to offer.
The weather through April has been mainly dry, which has allowed us to get on with lots of work in the garden. Over the course of the month, our new plant sales area just inside the side gate has been put together and been filled with lots of plants that we have propagated over the last 3 or 4 months. After a period of being closed we are also looking at reopening the cafe, with its opening coinciding with the Blossom day that we will be hosting on May 8th. The cafe will have a new feel to it this year and be a shop from for yet more plants and creations from the walled garden, don’t forget to stop by, sit back and relax over a cuppa and piece of home made cake.
Meantime in the rest of the glass houses plants have started to burst into life, seeds have been sown and germination has started which is hugely exciting. Our vegetable beds have all been prepared and have a lattice of wood chip paths to make their access easier as we grow vegetables, lots of which we hope to sell in our plant sales area.
Apple blossom has also started to emerge, which is really lifting the look of the garden and making it feel most spring like. We hope that now we are open weekdays that we have a good number of visitors pop past and enjoy the fruits of everybody’s hard work in maintaining the garden, so that it is a jewel in the middle of the woods.
With a few warm days towards the end of March the garden has really started to wake up. The pruning of the apple trees has been completed and in good time as many have now started to show signs of buds swelling and a few have even started to break their buds which has made them glisten in the sunshine. Blossom is not far away, so fingers crossed that this year late frosts do not burn the blossom display and rob us of a harvest of a multitude of apple varieties.
Work elsewhere in the garden has continued with much enthusiasm, benches have been painted, propagation has taken place and we have now set up our plant sales stand at the side entrance of the walled garden. Happily we now are opening the front garden to the public, which has seen good number of visitors, all of who have been able to see the fruits of everyones hard work.
Weeds have started to appear with the warm weather, weeding duty has started early, but for every small weed pulled in March it means there is one less big weed to be pulled in April.
A big job has been underway in the back garden, with two old raised beds being dismantled, sleepers have been salvaged and a new raised bed built next to the poly tunnel, one that will became a salad bar, home to salad crops and a few herbs through the summer months.
With the old beds now removed the ground has been levelled and seeded to return it to lawn which will give us more space around the vegetable beds, these have also been forked over and are almost ready for laying out for this years allotment growing project.
March really is an exciting month, with the garden starting to burst into life, we cant wait for the warm weather, to grow lots of produce and welcome in lots of visitors to enjoy the space within the walls.
With the cold and frosty weather that we satin the first week of the year, it was a great opportunity to get out doing lots of walking in the woods on the Thornham Estate, to spot signs of winter and enjoy how different frost makes everything look, especially our double border, which was only recently chopped down to the ground, and now with a dusting of frost looks very different to how it did a month ago.
Along with walks work has continued in the garden, with the first big job of the year being the planting of new raspberry beds, extending the existing bed into where the old portacabin used to live until it was taken down last year. We lifted roots of raspberry canes from the existing bed and set about digging trenches to plant them in and back fill. Hopefully they will settle in by spring and start to grow, if not we have plenty more canes that can be lifted and moved.
We have also started work on chopping and tidying the glasshouse that is home to our collection of more exotic plants, with some plants being chopped, some removed and some being tidied up where leaves have died. A little more work is needed with the small succulent plants, but that won’t be till the frosts have passed and we can do some propagation of them at the same time. We are also about to start the winter prune of the apple trees, with this year everyone adopting their own tree to prune and then maintain throughout a year cycle, this will form the basis of a specialist tree care and pruning course, written by Lisa so there will be lots to learn and in the process our apple trees will be getting lots of love, care and attention.
In pre pandemic times we would open the walled garden to the public on weekdays for free, to allow people to enjoy the fruits of the labour that we all put into maintaining it. The pandemic came along and it has been closed for much of that time, with opening through this summer on Sundays and partial openings during the week for plant sales. With a planned estate open day we took the opportunity to open the Masters Gate once more for the public to see the garden, and showcase some of the other work that our clients do in the sessions we provide. We also took the opportunity to do a bit of fundraising.
In preparation we have had a big purge to get rid of things that are shabby, broken and old, the collapsing chicken coop has now gone, as has a rotting wooden store and rusting metal storage container. We have cleared old pots that we do not use, they were re-homed and will be gratefully used. old crumbling tables have also been replaced, the inside spaces are now clearer and more functional, the extra space has allowed us to clean through easier, so its all looking as neat inside the glass houses as it ever has.
The garden has had lots of attention too, with beds being forked over and weeded in recent weeks as well as leaves raked and beds tidied up and mulched. We have however left the double border and apple tree pruning till after our open event, as doing a chop and clear, makes the garden look very set for winter and removes quite a bit of its interest. The next couple of weeks and the winter months after Christmas will see this work completed, as well as revamping the raised bed with the plant collection in it inside the glasshouse. For now everything is still looking interesting and tidy, hopefully qualities that will be enjoyed by our visitors.
As we headed into November our themed activities naturally reflected the changing season and the celebrations that come with autumn. Bonfire night of course being a highlight in the calendar was a good excuse to get the fire pit operating and to learn about how we light fires safely. Our walks around the woodlands were an opportunity to collect sticks and then return to the garden to lay a fire, on which marshmallows were toasted and enjoyed. We also decided to have a big bonfire in the week leading up to November 5th, burning much of what has been chopped in the garden as we head to winter and start getting the garden ready for spring.
Leaf raking has started under the apple trees, and as has become our resourceful way, the leaves have been used to mulch the roses in the east and west borders, adding nutrition to the soil as they decompose, and helping to keep the weeds down over the winter months.
Leaves have also featured in our theme weeks, with their identification and threading as we made leaf wreathes in the woods, selecting leaves for their autumn colours to make seasonal decorations. Preparations are also under way, to get the garden in shape for the estate open day on the 4th December, when we will be welcoming in visitors to the garden to see it before we close for winter.
The misty mornings of October are now upon us, and the colour of the garden is starting to fade from the glorious summer months. The double border however still has lots to offer, with Sedum and Helianthus in full flower, and the Asters are still giving lots of colour too which is making for the double border still looking great. AS the month goes on and we progress to November the autumn chop will begin and the border will be ready for winter dormancy. Meantime we are busy weeding and getting the beds tidy and have even found time to give the Buxus hedge a tidy before the weather turns. Autumn will see much chopping and tidying, with many of the fruit trees getting attention as we head into and through winter. This time of the year is all about getting things into shape in preparation for spring when things burst back into life. Hopefully the weather will be kind to us for a good few weeks yet, so that we can get as much done under a clear blue sky.