Parts of the lockdown seemed to be easing and there had been suggestions that we could resume having our indoor meetings. So we asked the members what they thought about it. The responses, and other considerations were discussed at a committee meeting. We had decided that our first get-together would probably be in April and would probably be an outside meeting. We are also constitutionally required to have an AGM. We thought we might be able to go ahead if we could overcome social distancing problems: it could be in our garden. We scheduled it for Monday 14th. I wrote the email last thing Tuesday intending to send it the next morning. The next morning on the radio? No more than six people to meet socially. Back to square one.
Like it or not we do seem to be entering the season of mists and mellow fruitfulness. Fruitfulness? For the first time ever one of the varieties of potato we grow is virtually a total loss with blight. But another variety in the adjacent rows is untouched. If that wasn’t bad enough, if I said the sweet corn was a disaster that would be a compliment. What can you do? Others have had better luck.
Sue Thomas writes:
Well, we are well and truly up to our knees in beans. The load in the poly tunnel that looked on their last legs have now come out in a blast of new flowers. The outside beans have again decided on a new flourish of flowers and the dwarf beans planted in error almost, are also flowering. The freezer is awash with beans. The latest alert has been plums. The two plum trees have been laden with the fruit. 36 jars of jam so far, 12 plum crumbles, 2 pies and masses of stewed fruit now in the freezer. Neighbours won't open the door to me any more!! On the flower front I made a new bed this year for cutting flowers, mainly dahlias and asters and at last they have bloomed and look splendid. They look so good I really don't want to cut them!! My 2 pear trees are about to ripen, so that will be my next project. Need a bigger freezer!!!
Keep safe everyone.
Annette Ridley writes:
Hi Ed, With the country slowly coming out of lockdown my husband, Mike, and I decided to venture out on a little field trip of our own across the border into Suffolk. We discovered Wyken Vineyards a few years ago-enjoying meals at their cafe and restaurant but had never visited the gardens.
So on a gorgeous sunny day we drove over, enjoyed brunch then we were ready to see the gardens which beautifully wrap around the stunning Elizabethan house in its traditional Suffolk pink.
The gardens did not disappoint - the sunflowers, dahlias and heleniums were delightful as were the roses.
The hidden pond filled with water lilies was such a calming space.
The gardens were created forty years ago by owners Kenneth and Carla Carlisle and is now an RHS partner garden. I loved the touches by American Carla such as the US mail boxes.
A pumpkin patch has been planted so hopefully lots of squashes for autumn.
Just a beautiful garden to visit year round! Will definitely return.
The garden details are on the Wyken website.
Keep well, Annette.
Jane Dalton writes:
Well, we are into September and it is really feeling like autumn. Our Pumpkins are ready, kids are back at school, well some of them. We are about to have a Committee meeting to decide how we move forward or if indeed we can. Interesting and sad how much this year has changed everything.
The allotment has produced well but is drawing to a close and much work is needed to put it to bed for the winter. Rest? Chance would be a fine thing!! The hot sunny weather is all but gone and I am painting again and have had several sketching groups from Wymondham Art Society spread out all over the garden and allotment busily painting away, a real distraction from the worries of Covid.
Holidays are a thing of the past but during August I have attended small group tuition sessions with artists in Wacton. Finding the place was a problem at first but the car can find its own way now! I was pleased with the results and they must have been ok, as I have sold two oil paintings already! I am going to run a short course (3 hrs. a week for about 6 weeks) for ‘Watercolour Techniques’ for just a few people at a time. If anyone is interested please get in touch 01953 498694 for details.
Hello Ed, Where did August go? The dahlias are in Liz's garden. Having spent a couple of days weeding the plot, planting the pots stood in trays of water and covering the whole bed with bark, it is now looking a great. Next year it will be a picture, I will get you one! Liz always keeps things close to her chest. I for one am pleased that this bed is complete. We have spent many an afternoon weeding it, but no more. Much work has taken place repairing and repainting the blue chicken coup and run. The 3 chickens, 'the girls' as I call them, have been relegated to the bottom if the garden. The large grey chicken coup with 2 runs is being scrubbed up and re-painting for the new ladies, 6 lovely copper and black Marans. The girls will be my favourites, they have had their beaks put out of joint, I will have to sneak them treats.
We have spent much time at Liz's son Michael's front garden. Lawn taken up and a mat of tangled ivy has been removed. A pond is planned. Each time we see him it has grown by a foot and is now up to about 2 meters across. We shall see when the digging out begins.
Still not much happening at No. 1, just one or two choice blooms and no projects, spending much time in other people's garden and the village hall. Fortunately Laura and Nige are helping with that. Overhanging branches and fast growing hedges to be dealt with and dreaded weeding, and then in the wet and windy weather, a fallen branch.
Quite pleased with my busy Lizzy tower, hope to keep some seed. Planted 10 green gladioli, got 2 flowers. Our Mum would love those. Planted 10 purple too, got no flowers, will have to hope for more next year. The white aster I grew on from a supermarket plant: so pleased with that as it is quite big in my new bed which needs filling. Nige gave me the Zinnia, which is a beauty and has multi heads and flowers to come. Both Liz and I have been successful in growing on the chrysanthemum that you buy at the supermarkets. Liz's is huge and pink in a pot still at her kitchen door along with an osteospermum grown from a seed, apparently a revelation. My chrysanthemum brown/bronze in the garden, not quite so big, am I right to be chuffed or is everyone doing this?
I ended up with 3 cucumber plants. Only having a small green house I had to hang batons from the roof to tie in the plant hand loop the plant back and forth. At least the fruits were able to hang down without obstruction and I could see where they were. Is it likely that my tomato truss on a Rosella will ripen on the plant? I think I might manage to ripen the sungold as the trusses are single, not like this one. I think 8 plants were too many along with my 3 cucumbers in my 6 x 8 ft. greenhouse. 'Im indoors thinks my new perfume is 'eau de tomato' as I'm always in there eating the toms straight from the plant, not many get indoors. Looking forward to September everyone.
Enjoy your gardens, Julie.
My advice on buying a greenhouse is what my old dad told me: carefully consider the absolute largest size you could possibly need; then double it. In a very short time you’ll discover that even that size will be about half of what you need.
Apart from potatoes and sweet corn the garden has been fruitful. We have had bumper crops of plumbs, damsons, cucumbers, tomatoes, basil and foxgloves. All very nice, but then you must not waste anything. After a blood test the doctor suggested I stop making cider, so now we try to store them. The Bramleys store well and last well into the New Year, as do the Wosters and Russets. We have another eater of unknown variety. Straight from the tree the crispness and flavor are unrivaled, but that only lasts two or three weeks, then it’s gone. It will keep but there’s little point, it quickly becomes a spongy shadow of it’s former self.
Then there are the damsons, so we’re hard at work making jam. I counted 19 jars, no two the same size, but She Who Must has told me to say, 20 pounds. It is now safely stored next to the 9.07185 kilograms left over from last year. We might not have removed all the stones, so eating toast and jam takes on the additional thrill of Russian roulette.
Over time, shrubs that were planted years ago have become somewhat large. Some of them tend to get a little ragged and so regular trimming is needed. Each time this is done, unless you are content to see the branches through the leaves, the bush slowly becomes larger and larger. You can see where this is going.
As time passes ever more elaborate climbing apparatus is employed in reaching not just the higher parts, but far harder, reaching over to get to the middle. So: I am far from the ground, holding onto the steps with one hand, leaning over away from the steps, trying to keep balance by sticking one leg out, and using the hedge trimmer at arms length.
Enough! All shrubs and hedges are now trimmed with my feet on the ground; anything higher than I can reach from a ground position is history. The evergreen bush is now looking decidedly deciduous.
I have to end on a very sad note by informing you of the death of Jill DeRuijter. In 1966, together with her husband Cees, Jill was one of the founder members of Great Hockham Gardening Club. She was an active supporter for many years. She was a keen, knowledgeable and very artistic gardener. The garden she designed and built with Cees is very distinctive with much hard landscaping and creative planting. She always helped out at our social and funding events with her excellent cakes and other goodies. She had not been well for a while and although at the time of her death her membership has lapsed, she seemed to maintain a presence within the club. Several members were privileged to attend her funeral, which was a very personal experience.
Best Wishes, Ed.