We’ve had a busy couple of months since I last wrote a post at the beginning of August, keeping up with weeding, pruning, harvesting apples and ground preparation for next season. We had another good crop of apples and pears from the orchards in the Walled Kitchen Garden and these have been sent off for juicing. Our Ashburnham Apple Juice is delicious; you can still buy bottles from last year’s crop in the bookshop or at the Orangery.
We’re also selling Jim’s amazing onions and other produce including pumpkins at our Kitchen Garden Shop, all grown onsite. We will have winter bedding plants there soon, so if you’re looking to brighten up your garden pots or hanging baskets then pay us a visit. Jim and I led two garden workshops a couple of weeks ago, demonstrating how to plant up a winter hanging basket, about 18 people came over two days and enjoyed going away with lovely, planted up baskets. We’ll be leading two Wreath Making workshops on Wednesday 25th and Saturday 28th November so book in if you’d like to create a beautiful Christmas wreath for your front door. We will show you how to make the wreath base with wire and straw and then decorate it with greenery from the grounds and gardens.
The whole team has been busy doing some grass restoration work this week, following a big event earlier in the Autumn, areas have been filled in and levelled and we have re-turfed areas around the drive too, hoping to get the work done before the weather changes too much! The walks around the Lakes which so many enjoy are a bit muddier than usual this year, we will be improving them over the winter but do bear this in mind if you’re planning a visit.
As well as all the usual gardening duties, you will know that our team sometimes gets involved in slightly more unusual tasks. In September Jim created a prayer labyrinth in the West Garden for a weekend conference, it proved so popular that it was left out for a couple of weeks with lots of staff and guests making use of it. It was good to see people prayerfully walking round it and enjoying the West Garden in a new way.
As Autumn gets going, the leaves are just beginning to turn on the trees in the grounds, the colours should be really spectacular in a month or so; do come and see them if you can. Meanwhile in the gardens the autumn flowering plants are taking centre stage. These Sedum are growing at the base of the wall opposite the Orangery and Hydrangeas and Fuchsias are flowering in the West Garden as well. There are even some roses having a second, or even a third flush of flowers. There are lots of plants you can grow that flower in late summer or Autumn, giving you a longer season of loveliness in your garden. These include, Grasses, Pennisetum, Sedum, Aster, Dahlia and Kniphofia. Of course others just keep flowering, there are Geraniums and Erigeron karvanskianus on the wall near the Orangery which have been flowering all summer long as well as Salvia, Cosmos and Penstemon that are still going strong in other parts of the garden.
It is always interesting to meet the wildlife that we share our gardens with and this chap was happily munching away in a border I was clearing a few weeks ago. It’s an Elephant Hawk Moth caterpillar, they are quite a size, about the same as a middle finger and he got through a lot of leaves – fortunately he was on a Rose Bay Willow Herb so I wasn’t too bothered! I made another exciting discovery a few weeks ago when I was leading a night walk around Broadwater Lake, we saw several Glow Worms in a couple of different locations. I had been hoping to find some, having seen them often when I visited here as a child and had spotted one in the grass verge outside my house this summer. They are an unprepossessing black grub but when they light up the brightness is quite remarkable. The wingless female glows in order to attract a male flying past and the resulting grubs live in the soil for a couple of years before emerging to start the cycle all over again. We were delighted to find so many in our grounds and will be trying to manage the areas we found them so that they continue to thrive here.