The frantic pace of activity on the estate has continued throughout May – the month that traditionally marks the start of serious planting outside. The team has been planting, seed-sowing and pricking-out at a pace of knots – as fast as we empty the glasshouse and polytunnel of material, it fills back up almost immediately!
On top of all this frantic work, we have (like most gardeners in the South of England) been forced to spend an unseasonably large amount of time and effort on watering thanks to the continued dry spell. The yew trees in particular have been suffering, with a number going into unsightly transplant shock – still, their root systems remain healthy and there is the promise of new growth about to emerge….
The improvement of the soil in the walled garden was completed towards the end of the month, with the final tally of added material soaring to 80 tonnes of sharp sand and 70 cubic meters of organic material. The result is a much more workable soil structure – I can plant using a hand trowel now rather than a pick-axe! This huge job should not have to be repeated next year, so we are hoping to be further ahead of the game 12 months from now.
With the soil work complete, we were finally able plant out the box hedging within the walled garden. As the photograph shows, it completely changes the nature of the space, and it’s great to finally see the garden with its core infrastructure taking shape.
The rose garden has also erupted into its best display in years – testament to the careful and targeted formative pruning regime we employed during those cold days in February. Numb fingers, embedded thorns and blood offerings all seem worth it now! The first aphid infestations have been spotted, and duly sprayed with an organic soft-soap to reduce their numbers and impact on the plants.
So far we have planted out courgette, lettuce (Lollo Verde), broad beans, dwarf French beans, jerusalem artichokes, onion, swiss chard and potatoes. More will follow in the subsequent months as we successionally sow and increase the range of material we are growing in the walled garden.
Sadly, Maisie decided to leave the gardening team for pastures new. We will look for a replacement, but I’d like to thank her for all the effort she put into the garden during its formative months.
Happy gardening everyone!