Since the last Grounds & Garden blog post in August, we have enjoyed lots of sunshine & warm weather, endured some heavy rain and strong winds and are now experiencing some seasonal temperatures which are coming as a bit of a shock to the gardeners and the garden after such a mild start to Autumn this year. The Autumn colours are really coming into their own now, with glorious yellows and reds throughout the woodland. With the colder weather, the colours should get even more intense. This year is a good year for Fungus too, there are lots of different types coming up on the lawns in the West Garden and the Front Terrace as well as in the woodland.
The Kitchen Garden has been producing delicious food through the summer and into Autumn, we’re currently selling Beetroot, Fennel and Ornamental Gourds at the Orangery. We had a bumper apple and pear harvest this year from the trees in the Walled Garden. These have been grown as cordons and espaliers in order to maximise the crop we can get in the space available and to make them easier to manage. The whole team was involved in the picking, which took us about a week. We send all our apples to be juiced and we’re delighted with this year’s juice, why not try some next time you call into the Orangery?
The planting which we did back in the Spring has taken well, these Erigeron karvanskianus came from divisions taken from a friend’s garden – the best kind of plants, not only are they free but they come with memories of the garden they originated in. We also planted several varieties of herbaceous Geranium in this bed (adjacent to the Orangery steps) which have flowered well all summer.
We have added some Geranium Rozanne plants too, one of the ‘plants of the moment’, it has pretty purple/blue flowers from early summer to early Autumn – it is still flowering at the moment here and will trail prettily down the wall as it grows and spreads.
We have also managed to plant up the three beds near the Orangery steps which still have seasonal bedding displays. Over the summer we used a combination of Pelargonium, Petunias and Chlorphytum comosum – probably more familiar as the Spider Plant! Although more usually found inside the house, they make a good summer bedding display. They are also very easy to propagate and we have several hundred little plants coming on nicely in the greenhouse for use next year. For the winter and spring bedding display we’ve chosen a mix of Prince Tulips in yellow, pink and purple with Myosotis (Forget-Me-Not) and Bellis perennis. Trailing Violas have been planted in the large pots in the centre of each bed.
One of the more unusual projects that the team has taken on was the setting up of a large cross at the top of Lady Spring Meadow. The timber used was from the woodlands and Gordon made the metal ‘rope’ which holds the crossbeam in place. Everyone was involved in getting up but Gordon did the lion’s share of the work – especially digging a pit deep enough and Rafael worked hard backfilling the soil in around the cross. We hope it will become a place of pilgrimage and reflection for our guests. Some of the children onsite helped to plant daffodil bulbs (Tete a Tete) around the base of the cross which should provide a lovely show in the Spring and, we hope, will naturalise over time.
On the same evening as the bulb planting, we also got the kids onsite to plant up bulb pots that they could take home with them and watch grow. It was lovely to see them excited to be gardening and proud of their finished pots and we hope they have been inspired. None of these things would have been accomplished without our growing band of local volunteers who come out to Ashburnham once a week or once a fortnight to lend a hand with weeding, potting on, taking cuttings, pruning and harvesting. We are so grateful for all the work they do. If you are interested in finding out more about volunteering with us, do get in touch via the website, it would be great to hear from you. Jay.