Garden Diary - June 2015

Sweet Strawberries, delicious new potatoes, broad beans, peas, apricots, nectarines, gooseberries, courgettes, spring onions, salads, beetroot, onions, Florence fennel, rhubarb, elderflower and a variety of different herbs are all being harvested from the gardens now. After a cold start to the summer in May with those chilly easterly winds, June has brought more typical summer temperatures and with it an abundance of lush new growth in the gardens.

The Ornamental Fruit Garden

In the Ornamental Fruit Garden, trees are laden with young apples and peaches (Peach 'Peregrine') along with other top fruit and soft fruit beneath the canopy. Elderflower is being collected from this garden and cordial is being made in the school, a cool refreshing drink best served with ice and a sprig of mint. The gooseberries are being harvested and the currants will be ready for picking soon.

The poached egg plant (Limnanthes douglasii) is displaying its bright yellow and white blossoms acting as an excellent plant for attracting bees and hoverflies, which are essential in our organic growing environment for pollination and the control of aphids. Salsify (Tragopogon porrifolius) with its pretty purple daisy-like flower together with the alliums and foxgloves, provide a wonderful display here.

The Kitchen Garden

The Kitchen Garden is filled with delicious vegetables this year; since the trees were cut back, light levels have improved greatly, vegetables such as; ‘Crimson Flowered’ broad beans, Florence fennel, carrots, beetroot, red orach, welsh onions, chives, globe artichokes, salsify, Runner beans var. ‘Painted lady’, globe artichokes, and potatoes can be found here. Green manures, such as buckwheat, lupins, phacelia and clover continue to be grown here as a source of nutrients for the soil in areas that will not be planted until later in the summer.

The scarecrows in this garden have gained two new companions; two more Scarecrows have been added, which along with our Dragon in the Wild Flower meadow are the creative work of Cork-based weaver, Norbert Platz. Norbert gives courses here in the gardens from time to time, details can be found on our website.

The Handkerchief Tree (Davida. involucrata) is displaying its spectacular large creamy-white bracts; the flowers are small, in rounded heads 2cm in width, held within a pair of creamy-white, ovate bracts.

The Old Pleasure Garden

In the Old Pleasure Garden, Viburnum plicatum 'Mariesii' (tiered like a wedding cake) as always never fails to give pleasure with its masses of creamy-white blooms. In flower at this time of the year also is the Crinodendron hookerianum (Chile Lantern tree) and the Snakebark maple (Acer capillipes) with its drooping racemes and its attractive bark. The Medlar tree is covered in blossom, and the new season's fruit has already begun to form. At the pond, the crimson Primula candelabra make a welcome splash of colour. In another few days, the thousands of flower buds on the Mock Orange (Philadelphus) will burst into flower and provide the most amazing delicate scent.

The Herbaceous Borders

In the Herbaceous Borders, the perennials are coming into bloom. The borders, which lead up to the Shell House are a canvas of colour; the annuals raised indoors have been planted out. Perennials such as Bear's Breeches (Acanthus mollis), Jerusalem Sage (Phlomis russeliana), Giant Knotweed (Centaura macrophala), Yellow Loosestrife (Lysmachia vulgaris) and Geranium 'Johnson's Blue', a few of the plants in flower.  

The Vegetable Field & Glasshouses

Winter vegetables, sprouts, cabbages, kohl rabi and turnips have all been planted out under protection from the pigeons and the white cabbage butterfly in the Vegetable Field. A large area has been prepared with Mypex for the pumpkins; sunflowers will be grown in between which always makes for a spectacular display. An area has also been prepared for the leeks to be transplanted, from the leek bed in the glasshouse.

The ridge support structure has been erected this year once again; Borlotti and Runner beans divided by Sweet pea in the centre will make a great harvest and an even better display in a few weeks time. Strawberries, Asparagus, globe artichokes, beetroot, onions and leeks are all being harvested from this area.

In a separate area, flowers (Cornflower ‘Blackball’, Statice ‘New art shades’), which were raised indoors, have been planted out for use as cut flowers.

The Glasshouse is brimming with delicious fresh organic vegetables. At the moment we’re harvesting: Broad beans var.‘Witkiem manita’, Peas var. ‘Ambassador’, Carrots, courgettes, salad leaves, spinach,chard and beetroot.

Two bays are filled with tomato plants (but it will be a few weeks before they are ripe), many of them are Heritage varieties such as: ‘Green Prince’, ‘Black Prince’, ‘Green Zebra’ and ‘Dancing with Smurfs’ (Theses tomatoes are large cherry size and are a very deep purple (almost jet black) where the sun hits them. The undersides and the insides are bright crimson!). Another bay is filled with Tomato ‘Pitenza’ and ‘Bocati’. A full bay of Basil (e.g. thai, lemon) has been planted close by.

Other bays have been planted with; Aubergines, Sweet Peppers var.‘Marconi rosso’ and ‘Bendigo’, Chilli peppers var.‘Ring of Fire’ and ‘habenero’, young cucumber plants and Corn on the Cob.

The vines and kiwi plants are laden with fruit; so too are the Nectarines, Apricots, Peaches and Figs!  

The first indoor potatoes have long been harvested and enjoyed! However, there are a few potato plants from this bay still in the ground, and that’s because there’s a blackbird’s nest with a number of young blackbirds, sitting on top of them! Whilst harvesting the potatoes, the gardeners came across the nest of eggs; well it’s a happy story for these little blackbirds, as the eggs have hatched and parent birds carry on feeding them and don’t seem to mind the gardener’s comings and goings!

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