Friday, 30 March 2012

The first Green-Winged Orchid of 2012

Yesterday I saw the first Green Winged Orchid of 2012 growing in the conservation meadow at the front of the New House.

These orchids are the main reason that the garden at Scotney is classed as a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) as the numbers of green-winged orchids were reduced dramatically during the mid twentieth century when modern farming techniques changed.

We will be doing a full blog next month on the Orchids giving you more detals about them but in the mean time see if you can spot any growing at the front of the house, but please don't walk on ther grass as you may stand on them and squash them!


Orchis morio - The Green-winged Orchid

Tuesday, 27 March 2012

A whiter shade of pale

This week we put shading up on the vine house. Last year we had problems with sun scorching our grapes. The glass on the vine house was acting like a giant magnifying glass and causing the grapes to turn all brown and wrinkly. As we are developing the vine house this year (check out our next blog) it was an issue that needed to be dealt with.

There are a variety of different methods of shading but the most appropriate for us was a roll-on liquid.
Using a roller that extended up to 5m Roger even managed to reach the very top of the vine house

The shading isn't permanent and will only last for one season, so next year we will have to paint it on again. It also has the advantage that on cloudy and wet days the shading will turn clear to allow more light into the vine house.
It wont drastically reduce the heat in the vine house but it will stop direct sunlight falling on the grapes and should stop them getting scorched.

Sunday, 25 March 2012

The Stream and Lions Mouth

The stream prior to being cleaned out
 The Stream in the West Glade

The stream at Scotney Castle is an integral part of the garden, it is not only a feature in itself but it also supplies the moat with water from the Sweetbourne River that runs along the west side of the garden.

Every year during the winter months we close the sluice gate that allows the water into the stream and we drain all of the water out. This allows us to get our waders on and climb into the bed of the stream to clean out all of the mud, weed, and silt that has built up over the past year. 

This can be quite a cold and smell job but is one which really makes a difference and helps to improve the flow of the stream, as well as making it look a lot better. 

Last week the gardeners got into the stream and spent a good few hours cleaning it out and spread some of the nutrient rich silt around the base of several Rhododendron shrubs in the West Glade which will rot down and give the shrubs a good feed.

Once the cleaning had been completed Richard opened the sluice gate and started to let the water back into the stream and it has filled up over the weekend and the water is flowing quite well. The water is cyrstal clear and the photograph below shows what it looks like all cleaned up and full of water. Over the coming months the marginal plants that grown along the banks of the stream will start to grow and complete this beautiful area of the garden.
The stream after clearing and flowing with water

The Lions Mouth Fountain 

The new grill being fitted
The Lions Head fountain is often hard to find and is missed by many of our visitors. It is tucked away at the top of the garden by the Rose Beds near the bastion and is a lovely little feature.

Over the winter months we have had the fountain turned off and like the stream we cleared it of debris such as leaves and sludge and we also had another grill made by our local blacksmith to stop rubbish falling into the bottom of the fountain.

The fountain being filled up

Once the grill had been painted and the walls of the fountain treated with a bonding solution to reduce any leaks, we filled it up and got it running again, only to be dogged with a leak which we struggled to find.

Eventually the leak was found to be where the hose goes under the wall and with a bit more sealant the problem was fixed and the fountain now holds the water.

The Lions Head running with water again!

A huge thanks to Rick our Handyman who perseveered and managed to find and fix the leak in the fountain, it was quite a frustrating job but well worth the effort in the end.

The next time you visit Scotney why not see if you can find the  Lions Head fountain, if you can't find it asy one of the Garden Guides or gardeners to show you where it is.

Quote from the weekend.....

"Absolutely stunning, thank you! Beautifully maintained and obviously tended with love"

Tuesday, 20 March 2012

Do you want fries with that?

After we planted the first flowers last week we thought we had better start on the vegetable beds. Having chitted the potatoes over the last couple of months we began planting them. We have ten varieties going in, two salad types, two earlies, two second earlies and four maincrop.
Our volunteer Ian digging the trench to plant the potatoes
Planting Charlotte potatoes
This should give us a good number of potatoes right throughout the season. However last year we did suffer from potato blight (a virus which is transported by mild and wet weather) and this is something we will need to keep an eye on later in the year. If it does strike then the potatoes will still be usable but we would have to cut down and destroy the foliage and lift the potatoes slightly earlier. Hopefully that wont happen and we will see how it goes.

Monday, 19 March 2012

Updated Plants of Interest List

Have you seen something in the garden and are not sure what it is?

Are you planning on visiting the garden at Scotney and are wondering what there is to see?

Then click on the 'Current Plants of Interest' section at the top of the page and you can find out more about what is flowering at the moment. This section will be updated regularly as more and more comes out into flower.

Saturday, 17 March 2012

Signs of Spring

Signs of Spring

“The colours of spring deserve the name of beauty in the truest sense of the word: they have every thing that can give us that idea, freshness, gaiety, and liveliness, with softness and delicacy. […] The tints of the flowers and blossoms, in all the nearer views, are clearly the most striking and attractive; the more general impression is made by the freshness of that vivid green with which the fields, the woods, and all vegetation begins to be adorned. Besides their freshness, the earlier trees have a remarkable lightness and transparency; their new foliage serves as a decoration, not a concealment; and through it the forms of their limbs are seen, as those of the human body under a thin drapery; while a thousand quivering lights play around and amidst their branches in every direction."

Uvedale Price, Essays on the Picturesque, Volume I, Chapter VIII.

The last couple of weeks have been marked by more and more signs of approaching spring, that trickle of seasonal milestones which soon swells to a flood as the trees burst into leaf  and, as Uvedale Price suggests, the landscape becomes ‘adorned’ with a ‘vivid green’. A couple of weeks ago driving to work I began to notice the bright white of Blackthorn (Prunus spinosa) coming into flower by the roadside, joined soon by the bright candy floss pink of cherry blossom. This week, literally overnight, the Great Sallow, otherwise known as the Goat or Pussy Willow (Salix caprea), have burst into flower. Though, of course, their colour is provided not by petals but by domed arrays of gold-tipped stamens. Below is an extremely poor photograph taken today of a Goat Willow at the top of the drive.

Goat Willow is so abundant that it is sometimes viewed as little more than a weed, which only goes to show that in nature a plant’s prevalence is no index to its beauty. So often, if we take the time to attend to it, the ordinary reveals itself as the extraordinary.

In the garden as well, the signs of spring are becoming more abundant. Below are a few photos of what struck me as I walked around this morning. A couple paragraphs after the section I have quoted above from Uvedale Price’s Essays on the Picturesque, he suggests that the beauties that ‘give to spring it’s peculiar character, are not those which are best adapted to painting […] the thousand quivering lights, beautiful as they are in nature, have a tendency to produce a meagre and spotty effect in a picture’. On the evidence of the images that follow I’m sure he would have extended this judgement to photography as well as painting, at least as practiced by my uninspired eye coupled with an even less inspired camera. I can only suggest you use your imagination or, even better, come and visit the garden to see the flowers and trees in the flesh.

Starting with Price’s nearer views, the wonderful Magnolia x loebneri ‘Leonard Messel’ that at this time of year dominates the entrance path has begun to flower.  On Tuesday we noticed that some of the furry buds had begin to split to reveal the crumpled cerise flower petals inside, and since then more and more flowers have burst out of their protective casings.

Below is one of the early Rhododenrons on the edge of the Quarry. I’m not sure of the name of this hybrid but I’ll update the blog when I find out.

 There are still great displays of daffodils on the Conservation Meadow in front or the terrace;

and on the Boathouse Flat.

Near the West Glade the Narcissus ‘Eystettensis’ or Queen Anne’s Double Daffodil are also in flower.

This pink Pieris japonica is in flower in a sheltered spot on the Top Walk

Finally, in terms of flowers, several Camellias are in flower including this one next to the Old Stable Block.

Moving on to Price’s ‘more general impression’, the tree that stands out in the garden at the moment is the large Golden Weeping Willow (Salix x sepulcralis Chrysocoma’) that dominates the far end of the moat. Just this week the fresh lance-shaped leaves have begun to sprout, producing a green shimmer around the drooping branches. This tree very much fulfils Price’s description of how the leaves of spring provide a decoration and not a concealment of the boughs and limbs.

I’ll end this blog entry with a further quotation from Uvedale Price’s Essays on the Picturesque.

“Such indeed are the charms of reviving nature, such the profusion of fresh, gay, and beautiful colours and of sweets, united with the idea of fruitfulness, that they absorb for the moment all other considerations: and on a genial day in spring, and in a place where all its charms are displayed, every man, whose mind is not insensible or depraved, must feel the full force of that exclamation of Adam, when he first awakened to the pleasure of existence;

With fragrance and with joy my heart o’erflow’d.

Friday, 16 March 2012

Happy birthday to…us

This week we celebrate the first anniversary of the restoration of the Walled Garden. I can't believe that it has already been twelve months since we started the project. As you can see in the picture bellow, when we started the area was mostly grass with a few borders around the far edge.
The Walled Garden in 2011

March 2012, showing the veg beds, chickens, main paths...

...herbaceous beds and cut flower beds
This first year was all about setting up the infrastructure. The main beds have been created, along with the paths in there original layout. We have removed the derelict Cedar House and built the chicken run. There has also been a lot happening that hasn't been seen by the public. Researching the history of the Walled Garden, then planning and designing the layouts and the building of a tool shed and greenhouse. Sourcing the original varieties of fruit trees and sowing flower and vegetable seeds for this year.

So how did we celebrate this momentous occasion? With our very first plantings in the new beds. We have put in three varieties of Gladiolus soon to be followed by many other varieties of flowers and vegetables over the next few months. It was great to see the first things going in. Having spent the last few months looking at bare earth while we were putting the wooden edging in, seeing those three plant labels sticking out from the ground really emphasised the beginning of the next chapter.

Our volunteer Roger planting Gladiolus bulbs
What does the next year have in store for us? All being well the beds will be planted and full of produce. We will then continue with the next stage of development. The Vinehouse will be developed with new vents, shading and chilli benches, fruit cages will be built, and a rose garden and education area designed and laid out. We will also prepare the old outer beds ready for the fruit trees which will go in over the autumn.

It's going to be another busy year...

Thursday, 15 March 2012

The team lend Charlotte a helping hand

Today the Garden team went over to Sprivers to lend Charlotte a hand to knock in "some" posts in the rose garden. By some I mean a lot! Charlotte had about 200 posts which needed to be knocked in. Charlotte began by explaining to us where she wanted the posts positioned and the team got going.
Charlotte explaining to Dave and Duncan what she wanted

Richard making a pilot
hole for the post
Dave and Duncan knocking
 in the post

We split up into smaller teams Dave and Duncan took one of the rose beds while Richard and I took another. Hillary and Charlotte we're giving us both a helping hand making sure we didn't get too scratched by the roses and removing the old posts. 

Hilary removing the old posts
We didn't quite manage to knock all of these in but we did manage to knock in over 50 before midday.... so we're quarter of the way through only another 150 to go (and that's before the new roses get planted in the  autumn!)


Saturday, 10 March 2012

New beds

After a few months of measuring, marking out and re-measuring the last of the main growing beds have been created and edged with wood. The four vegetable beds have been dug over, manure added, and levelled ready for our first crops.

On the opposite side of the garden the cut flower beds are also finished and these will be sown with annuals and perennials that we started growing last month. Although everything is still rather bare and empty at the moment, it is great to see the final layout of the Walled Garden taking shape. When we start planting over the next few weeks it exciting to think that within a few months they will be full of fresh produce.