November 2020

Great Hockham Gardening Club Corona Diary - November


We do seem to be having some rain lately, not so much the quantity, but the duration of it. It wouldn’t be so bad were it not for the inaccuracy of the forecast. I know that they are the only profession expected to predict the future but getting it so wrong, and sometimes just a couple of hours ahead, regularly, does make you wonder. Others are having a similar experience.


Nigel Lincoln laments: ‘Rain Stops Play’ is the order of the day again. I can’t remember the last time we had three dry days in a row, or 17C in November! As I write, it is blowing a gale and raining, again! I have given up standing the pots backs up on the patio, and have decided to transition all the plastic pots into heavier terracotta. 


The weeds are taking over the lawn and the borders, but I keep finding other things to do indoors that are far more urgent than scrabbling around outside. In fact, the borders are looking good for this time of year, and on the plus side, no frost so far means the cannas, dahlias, bananas, and other non-hardy plants are still going strong. I usually leave all of these in the ground over winter, but this year I will be digging up the dahlias as I want to move them to a different bed. I bought two Abyssinian bananas recently, so they will stay in their pots and spend Xmas in the greenhouse, or indoors if we have a bad winter. 


I also got 3 sacks of daff bulbs for £10, and spent an afternoon on my knees putting them in – a long handled bulb planter is definitely on the Christmas wish list. Mulching is now top of the to-do list, along with re-filling the compost bins with horse manure and leaves – even lockdown doesn’t stop horses doing what they do. But everything is behind schedule, and very soggy. I need to have a bonfire, but everything is just too wet to burn at the mo.


The greenhouse has been given an Autumn clean, and all the accumulated rubbish cleared out. It now has several trays of seeds for biennials, including some hollyhocks from Ed and Prue. It also has some fuchsias, salvias etc. that might need extra protection over winter. 


Making a walk-in fruit cage is one of my winter projects and I have had a load of eight-foot posts and roof batons delivered – but no actual progress so far. We have also ordered a shed, and building a base has been the priority. Although whether the latest restrictions will delay the shed delivery, I have no idea. 


Leeks (not very big), winter cabbages (eaten by cabbage whites), beetroot and swedes (small) are still struggling on. Onion sets have gone in and are just poking their heads up. Garlics and broad beans have yet to appear. Until last week, some of the Autumn raspberries still had fruit on them. Lots to do, Nige.


Julie Brown is trying to look on the bright side: Hello Everyone. Here we are again Lockdown in the Garden, how lucky we are to have the garden. Gosh the time flies, over here at Wretham the village hall committee had managed to get the hall open with Covid-19 secure guidance and the Tai Chi class had resumed. A Poppy Appeal coffee morning took place and people were able to catch up with each other, social distancing in place. Will have to get my act together and start clearing up leaves at the hall, good that I know someone, Nige, who will take as many bags that can be filled.


Have been transporting more stones from No1 Wretham to No1 Feltwell to complete Michael's pond and bog garden. The pyracantha are covered with berries in red, orange and yellow, the blackbird will be gorged.


Have started on the raised vegetable garden made from sleepers, Michael and Liz were able to come and help dig out lleylandii tree stumps, one or two were monsters and took an age to get out, Liz and I doggedly dig out the soil from around the roots while Michael will go in with brute force. Both methods achieve the ultimate aim. Whilst digging we found an inspection cover, lived here 29 years didn't know it was there buried under a foot and more of soil. Having got a Mr. Jackson in, we now know where all the drains run to and from and up and down the row, good information to store for future reference. Well, having to leave the inspection cover accessible, the design of the veg bed has had to be changed slightly. Nearly there and I will soon be able plant something. Still got to dig another hole to put in the last tub as a pond into the bog garden, then cover it with bark.


Hoping to move one or two plants and put a few more plants in and get the rest of the bulbs in, I had cut the grass but wonder if it might need another cut with this spell of sunny weather and now I have gathered up the leaves into the leaf bin, hopefully be leaf mold to use next year.


Did have a nice meet for coffee with a friend at Peter Beales Roses, bought more bulbs and picked up a few presents but it was lovely to catch up with her again, and I know she will read this, I will put the plants we talked of in the front garden, they can be picked up whenever you might drive by. Really ought to get the beech hedge at the bottom of the garden cut into shape for the winter and finish the cutting of the box hedge at the front.



Still lots to do but there will be time. For some reason I'm waking really early in the morning, 3am? However, I set myself a challenge to read 52 books this year so having much time in the mornings and I am up to 45, lots of thrillers but some lighter subjects too, I like the Scandinavian writers as their books always mention about how cold it is and all the snow around, both of which I love but from the comfort of an armchair in a cosy warm room. Take care everyone, Julie


Annette Ridley remembers times past: Hi Ed- As we are well into the autumn, I always think back to my childhood growing up in New England. What comes to mind are the glorious colours, apple picking, carving pumpkins and eating anything made with pumpkin!


Even though I have lived in the UK for the past 24 years, I try to continue some of my favourite childhood traditions, one being pumpkin picking and the other baking a pumpkin treat.


We don’t have a garden large enough to grow our own pumpkins but we were lucky enough to discover a fabulous pumpkin patch at Undley Farm near Lakenheath, Suffolk a few years ago. Each year we collect a wheelbarrow full of various pumpkins and gourds; some are used for my Halloween display and many of the gourds are used to decorate for our Thanksgiving holiday later in November.


Some pumpkins are roasted, mashed and used to make pumpkin muffins. During these difficult times I find comfort in the little traditions of one’s life so I’ve included my favourite pumpkin muffin recipe here. They are delicious!! Hope everyone is staying safe. Take care Ed. Regards, Annette


Jane Dalton returns us to the theme of weather: Well we are really into autumn now, all the beautiful colours emerging and our pumpkins are ready! I can’t believe that before we know it Christmas will be here. Don’t know about you but I can’t summon up one iota of enthusiasm… after all it is all about family and it looks like we won’t be able to see them – our son lives ‘Up North’ and has already cancelled coming to see us in two weeks time - for the first time since Lockdown - due to Covid restrictions up there… so disappointing! We have only seen our grandson twice since he has been two and he will be 3 on 1st Nov… Don’t expect we will be seeing them at Christmas either…

I will be 70 on 27th Dec and had planned to have a big party to celebrate – or is that the word??? Anyway all that is off & our Claire has booked to take me to a Spa at Wyboston Lakes with an overnight stay and dinner so that is something to look forward to – except that I will be so embarrassed to strip off with all the Lockdown weight I have put on – really must try harder!


My twice a week Watercolour Techniques class is going well – they are loving it. Nice to get such brilliant responses – spurs me on. I will start a new group off in January for 6 weeks – I already have a few names on the list so if you are interested let me know a.s.a.p.


Covid allowing I will also be having an OPEN STUDIO on Saturday 5th December between 10 – 4 pm. This will be at Overton House, Great Hockham, IP24 1NT, 01953 498694 for private viewing. Plenty of arty bargains/cards etc. for Christmas. In the garage – doors open – 5 max at a time in masks. You will be very welcome… Look up my Facebook Page – Art by Jane Dalton. I will be selling paintings, cards and many gifts. Proceeds to Hockham Village ‘In Touch’ funds.


This weekend we are due to go to Bath; a long awaited gift to Chris from his brother for his 70th in June. Cancelled several times so we are looking forward to it. Praying it will actually happen this time.

The wet weather continues – our chickens have stopped laying and look properly bedraggled. Chris is on a Mission: to outwit extremely clever and audacious rats that break into their run every night after he has spent copious hours fitting chicken wire to prevent them. A war, I suspect, he will never win.


Our garden looks a right old mess! I have started to hack everything down, but really I don’t know where to start!! The brown bin is full and we can’t get rid of stuff till it gets emptied so the bonfire heap on the allotment just keeps getting bigger!! I have bags of bulbs to plant and goodness knows when they will go in – if at all!! I have been busy making chutney from all the red/green tomatoes so the house pongs of vinegar and pickling. Well that’s enough on the home front You must be asleep by now… Jane x.


Sue Thomas is stocking up for the winter: Hi Ed. The last of the pears have been gathered in, and on finding half a bottle of red wine sitting on the worktop, (not a great fan of drinking it, but goes well in a stroganoff!!).


I poached my pears in red wine before putting them in the freezer. Something to look forward to in the not too distant future! The conker tree at the bottom of the garden has exceeded all expectations: we have raked up 4 trailer loads and have had to put them in the bottom of a new composter. Where else can you put them. The next biggest job was trying to prize those conkers that had been run over by the tractor and trailer out of the lawn. No mean feat I can tell you. Now got arms like a chimp!! Still, have some lovely flowers in bloom, especially a couple of fuchsias that flower late every year and are hardy. Will cut them back probably in late January.


My cutting garden is still in flower with lots of dahlias still in full bloom. Still can't seem to want to cut them and bring them inside as they look so beautiful. Have raked the leaves from the conker tree into a massive pile in the bottom corner of the garden and we have had a couple of large hedgehogs lurking in the garden. They seem very tame and not at all frightened. Hope they survive the winter in their new abode. The oddest thing to happen is for a cactus, which I have had for over 20 years, to develop a long shoot and eventually coming into flower. Took 4 weeks to arrive, and last only a few days.


Now back in lock down, so keep safe everyone and see you after the 'C' thing about to happen. Cheers, Sue Thomas.


I have also been doing things cactus. After several years worrying about them I finally managed to get them down without serious damage to either the conservatory or myself. There are times when the contemplation of a task is worse than the execution of it. By this time next month we may have things under sufficient control to come out of lockdown. Here’s hoping, Ed.



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