Rambling Gardener

From the Garden: by Adam Quayle, Garden Manager

‚ÄčAUGUST

In the garden this month we have had the pleasure of watching the peregrine falcons glide through the skies whilst hearing their distinctive shrieks above. The cormorant and heron have been regularly perched on the mill pond’s edge waiting to catch their prey. The soft squawks of ducklings have also been heard whilst walking by the mill wheel on route to the woodland.

This month we have been busy removing a large group of Rhododendron ponticum at the front of the house, this has enabled a view of the house that has most likely not been seen in over twenty years. For all those who don’t know, Rhododendron ponticum is a bit of a thug, introduced in the late 18th century it spread throughout Britain at an incredible rate. It grows into a large bush and layers itself, spreading easily. This then stops most other plants growing by blocking the light and it is also toxic to wildlife, from the humble earthworm to the garden bird. The Rhododendron ponticum is also extremely susceptible to Phytophora ramorum (also known as ‘sudden oak death’) and once caught, promotes its spread. Although, I do have to add, there are many wondrous specimen rhododendrons that are a joy to behold and which flower throughout the year. In the gardens our Rhododendron ‘polar bear’ is currently laden with the heavy fragrance from the large blowsy white flowers.  The concept now the Rhododendron ponticum has been removed is to place several benches in the new lawn area for you all to enjoy the view of the house and its beautiful backdrop. We have added several plants of interest for their scent and colour that will continue to enhance this new area as time goes by.  

The pupils of the local primary schools have been in and released butterflies in to the Walled garden that they reared themselves through their first three lifecycles, ready for the final cycle (the reproductive and mobile stage) in the gardens. 

This month we picked the remainder of the gooseberries, redcurrants and blackcurrants and the chefs have been busy making them into an array of desserts to be sold in the cafe.

In the old kitchen garden the espalier apple trees along the leat are now brimming with apples which will be ready for harvest by late August through until October.

Jobs to be getting on with this month are pruning the wisteria. The pruning of trained fruits, pears in mid-July and apples late in august. Pruning cherry trees in summer minimises silver leaf disease and bacterial canker. You can also continue to take cuttings and seed for next year’s plants.

Happy gardening all and we hope to see you soon.