The Week That Was: 23rd – 27th September

Go behind the scenes, meet the team and get some great tips for your own garden at home. Join us as we look back at the week that was…

Monday 23rd

Spring bulbs being potted in our Nursery Area, photograph by Tony Bucknall, The Week That Was, Digging for Dirt, Winterbourne House and Garden

Spring bulbs being potted in our Nursery Area, photograph by Tony Bucknall

We have been busy potting spring bulbs ready for Plant Sales next year. You can expect to see tulips, daffodils, crocus and snakes head fritillaries bursting from pots ready to make a splash. Spring bulbs should always be potted in autumn and kept just moist until they come into growth when they can be watered freely and planted out.

Can’t wait for spring? You can buy your own ‘ready to plant’ bulbs from our Gift Shop now. These loose bagged bulbs are perfect for layering in pots and creating spectacular spring displays. Plant large, late flowering bulbs at the bottom of a large pot, cover with compost and then plant a smaller sized, earlier flowering bulb on top.

Mixing different bulbs in a single pot like this is great for small gardens with limited space. You can get creative and make all sorts of different brilliant colour combinations all in one pot. Don’t forget to top your finished pot with some chicken wire if you share your garden with hungry squirrels – they love a bulb lasagne!

Chillies drying in the boiler house, photograph by Leighanne Gee

Tuesday 24th

On Tuesday, Horticultural Supervisor Leighanne was hard at work harvesting chillies from the Lean-to Glasshouse. We’ve been harvesting chillies for some weeks now and most have made their way into the Gift Shop for visitors to buy and try for themselves.

However, Leighanne is going to save the remainder of the harvest now and dry them in a nearby boiler house where they’ll be kept nice and warm. Once dried, she will thread them onto cotton and hang them for decoration in the Old Kitchen where we’ll be hosting special festive Christmas lunches this winter.

“We’ve grown a chilli forest! Well, not quite – but I’m thrilled with how well they’ve grown & with very little ‘special treatment’. The hottest chilli in the display is a Ghanaian variety called Devil’s Rib, that is an eye-watering 415,000 SHU – which is insanely hot – and no, I haven’t tried it!” Leighanne Gee, Horticultural Supervisor

Wednesday 25th

Cyclamen hederifolium, photograph by Tony Bucknall

Wednesday saw Garden Volunteer Steve busy selecting the best of our Cyclamen hederifolium to be transferred from the Nursery Area onto display in the Alpine House where visitors can get up close to the delicate pink and white flowers as they emerge from large underground corms.

Cyclamen hederifolium flowers arrive before the leaves which look a lot like the leaves of ivy when they finally appear. In fact, Cyclamen herderifolium is commonly referred to as the ivy-leaved cyclamen. They have arrow shaped green leaves that are often marked with silver and grey not unlike their namesake.

Perfect for planting beneath deciduous trees, Cyclamen hederifolium can be grown outdoors just as successfully as they can under glass. They like plenty of moisture in the autumn through to spring when they are in full growth and drier conditions when they go dormant in the summer. Plant corms about 5 cm deep and mulch with plenty of humus rich leaf mould whenever you can.

Thursday 26th

New planting in the Oak Border, photograph by Tony Bucknall

Now that the new borders on the Arboretum Lawn have settled in attention has turned to the nearby Oak Border and on Thursday, Head Gardener Dan set about lifting and re-planting congested perennials in the area. Large pieces of dead wood have been incorporated into the scheme to help create interesting planting pockets and replicate the conditions found in a natural woodland understory.

Unfortunately, the eponymous oak tree after which the border is named failed to recover after it was pollarded in an attempt to relieve pressure on a huge crack that had appeared in the main trunk several years ago. Now, the famous old oak tree will provide a spectacular climbing frame for a vigorous rambling rose instead. We have chosen R. ‘Wedding Day’, a tough rambler with masses of single white flowers that will be planted in the next couple of weeks.

“The Oak Border is really a spring border crammed full with daffodils and hellebores. It will always look best in spring but I have chosen to incorporate some autumn flowering plants like Liriope muscari and plants with interesting foliage like the purple-leaved Heuchera ‘Chocolate Ruffles’, so there is always something to admire right throughout the year.” Daniel Cartwright, Head Gardener

Friday 27th

Labelling herbs, photograph by Leighanne Gee

The week ended with Horticultural Supervisor Leighanne preparing plant labels for lots of different herbs that have been planted in the vegetable beds in the Walled Garden. Leighanne was busy earlier in the week removing some old and tired plants that were no longer productive and replacing them with fresh plants ready for our Tea Room chefs to pick next summer.

Lemon balm, chamomile and oregano were all lifted and replanted from different areas of the garden, some chives that were there already were split to help keep them vigorous,  and rosemary plants grown from cuttings earlier in the year were finally planted in their new home.

The planting will continue apace next spring when tender parsley, coriander and basil will be sown and some old barrels will be utilised for growing mint. Although a useful addition, mint is an extremely vigorous perennial that can often overwhelm other plants in the vicinity, so these half-barrels will be perfect for containing the overenthusiastic herb.

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