Great Hockham Gardening Club Corona Diary - January 2021

Our first diary for the New Year – hoping for one happier than the last one. I never thought we would still be writing it for this long. And then I think, even if things get back to something like the way they were, might it not be good to keep the diary going anyway?


Hazel Dunn is member of my anti mole club (membership free) and also has weather problems: Thanks Ed, Garden wise it is all still bleak. Our back garden has been under water since September, the only upside is that the moles have probably drowned! Even the greyhound doesn't get up much speed round the lawn - going is very heavy and he's not too happy wearing the snorkel. Run off from the field behind us comes straight through us, so my vegetable garden will no longer be organic. I've even had to dig up the dahlias before they rot, having got away with leaving them in for the last few years. As I watch yet more rain falling it is hard to imagine when I'll do gardening again, though I did receive an inspirational book for Christmas: 'In Bloom' by Claire Nolan which combines cutting borders with flower arranging.


Lets hope that 2021 will be better for us all. Mike is waiting for his vaccination call up - hopefully at the Thetford Centre where several neighbors have already been. Best wishes, Hazel. 


Jane Dalton seems to have survived Christmas: HAPPY NEW YEAR EVERYONE! Can’t really believe this but it must be true as the decs are down and this morning the last glimpse of elusive glitter has been sucked up the vacuum cleaner. And what a New Year it is, an even worse Covid situation, more of a lockdown. More time to eat those chocolates and catch up with recorded TV programmes and box sets. My New Year resolution to lose weight has already bitten the dust!


Time to tell you that our Christmas was not as lonely as I expected. The couple (who were in our ‘bubble’ and we had seen most weeks before this latest lockdown) had their plans scotched as their family live in Kent and could not come. So we invited them and we all had a lovely relaxed day. Lunch lasted from 2pm till 7pm with lots of gift opening and clearing up as we went along to make room for it all!


My 70th was not the damp squib I thought it would be either – in fact it was my BEST birthday ever!! Just Chris and I here, but I had phone calls, (sometimes all 3 phones going at once!) texts, messages and doorbell ringing. 40 cards, gifts and flowers from breakfast to bedtime from all over the country and the world! I was truly touched and humbled by all the love sent my way and I can’t thank everyone enough!

As a Committee I know we had hoped to be planning and thinking hard about how to re-start Gardening Club by now. Who ever imagined it would be a year before we could ‘meet up again’. It will have to be a very different format when we do, probably more like we were when we originally started up. A less formal, more of a ‘friends with similar interests’, a DIY open-air version where we see one another’s gardens and go on visits to places like Anglesey Abbey by pre arrangement. Speakers and enclosed meetings will be hard to arrange. Let us know your ideas…

The nights are already drawing out, the sun is emerging and I hope sending all this wet weather on its way. Still too cold for me to think about gardening though – so I am off to my Studio; painting beckons.

It has been lovely to keep in touch with you all over the last year; I really do value it and love to read your contributions. Thank you to all who sent me messages over the Festive season. Take care and remember, we have seen this thing through once and we can do it again. The Vaccine is just around the corner – hope is on its way. With love, Jane Dalton.

Sue Thomas is enjoying the wildlife: Hi Ed, The Moorhens arrived at 'Beeches' (next door), again last year, and took up residence on one of the islands in the very large pond. Each year they come about April/May and leave usually by the end of October. No one knows where they go!! They duly arrived in early May 2020 and settled down on the island. At the end of July we were aware that there were several fluffy black bundles on legs running around on the lawn and rushing under the big blue fir tree or protection. We counted 3 to start with, then 4 then 5 then 6; making a total of 8 with the proud parents. Now they are all the same size, they regularly troop onto our fence, along our 5 bar gate, and down onto the drive and head under the bird table for the seeds spilled by the birds above. Having got an infinitive supply of food, they have not departed! They even take on the two doves, which inhabit our bird table on a frequent basis. Last year having been the most peculiar times, my Christmas cactus has actually flowered at Christmas, usually not appearing in flower until at least February. In my top garden we have polished off the last of the carrots and parsnips, with only a few beetroot left to deal with. Have already had 4 seed and plant catalogues land on the mat, so must have a clear out of all the old seed I have been hoarding and start the new year with fresh seed. The field adjoining our top garden has just had two horses deposited in it, and after talking to the lady who owns them we now have a ready supply of manure for our composters. Looks like a win, win situation at last!! Keep Safe. Cheers, Sue.

Nigel and Laura Lincoln do not seem to have had much of a winter break: Hi Ed & Prue, Happy New Year to you and everyone. Gardening has started again after a couple of weeks of hibernating and over-eating. I like to leave all the old herbaceous seed heads and foliage alone until at least January because I think it provides some food and shelter for wildlife and birds, and it looks great with frost and rime on it. But by January the garden is starting to emerge again and I start cutting down and composting all the dead herbaceous material, so I minimise the chance of tramping over emerging shoots later on. The borders look a bit bare for a few weeks, but on the plus side it is easier to see plants and bulbs springing back into life. We planted a couple of new areas of daffs in the autumn, but none of our bulbs seems to appear very early. No sign of any snowdrops yet, and the hellebores are disappointing (or just plain absent), but crocus are just starting to push through. We also bought a range of different named hyacinths from a place in Waterbeach that holds the national collection. These are in pots at the moment, so we can see what each one looks like, before deciding where to put them in the garden. Some are just poking their heads above the parapet. We have several Camellias (one of my favourites) in pots, and one is just about to open its first pink bloom – hurrah! One Daphne has flowers for the first time, and they smell divine, if you can take the strain of bending down to sniff them. We bought a small Edgeworthia from Diss auctions and, fingers crossed, it will also produce a bloom or two soon. On the allotment the autumn raspberries have been cut back to ground level, fruit trees are being pruned, and the over-wintered broad beans are clinging on. Putting short sections of plastic pipe over the leeks has been a success, with longer stems and less grit in between the leaves (photo attached). By the end of the month the borders should be tidied up, and then the fun begins as walking round the garden reveals something new every day. I particularly love seeing those plants emerge that you had forgotten you had. A whole growing year to look forward to. Nige & Lor. 


Julie Brown is troubled by the weather and moles: Hello Ed, Sorry I didn't produce anything for January, I took some pictures a few days ago, which I have attached. I enjoyed reading the write-ups provided by other garden members, I have been able to do a little in the garden but the freezing weather put paid to being outdoors. I will endeavour to produce something for February, I have plans for the garden which I am working toward. I'm seeing lots of bulbs showing, the promise of spring


I have a mole in the garden, it’s running around my new bed, I hope it's not eating my bulbs. I've found a bag of 5 alliums that I have put in the garden, tidied the edge of grass around the bed under the tree where my hundreds of spring bulbs are. I have used the molehills to re-pot my garden mint that I split, I need the pot for something that must happen by February end before tree buds start to burst. Mr Archer is going to help me with that. I have already complimented Nige on his 'nice leeks'


Chilly this morning must feed the birds and break the ice on their water. Best wishes Julie


My pruning efforts have come to naught: A bush I severely reduced last summer, a bush that was predicted to be not worth the trouble, has now been judged by a superior authority to be not worth the trouble. It is not only unsightly, but blocking the view of … something or other. Having a main trunk of something like a foot in diameter this proved to be something of an undertaking, but in the end, fairly doable. By going round it with a spade, cutting the smaller roots and merely locating the larger, a trowel was quite enough to expose the two larger ones enough to get access with a pruning saw. And up it came. The grass path at the side will now be enlarged to form a continuous area of grass next to the drive – which will need an edging. Hard as I try I am unable to convince myself that a few blocks or flints along the edge will do. I am going to have to match the edging the other side, the other side, the construction of which I swore I would never repeat. But, if there is one thing that life has taught me is that to try and get away with a make-do job will just jar every time I look at it for years to come. So it will be a similar task as to the edging I put in last year, the arduous installation of which I said, never again.


Finishing as we started: I should have kept quiet about the rain: we have a little rain gauge to give us an idea as to whether the weather has supplied enough wet stuff for the garden. Overall there didn’t seem to be that much, but another indication of rainfall is the state of the river. There is a tree half way up the bank I use as a measure. If the water reaches the base of the trunk, then it’s high. The water was at least a foot above that. Some footpaths in Hockham woods have places a foot deep, others a quagmire of mud, parts of fields are lakes. Have we had enough water? No! In the village the sewer overflowed and just down the road there was a burst water main. The repair of the latter revisited the recovering carnage wrought by the installation to the fibre broadband. So around here it’s, “Follow me, follow / down to the hollow…


Better be shut up: I’ll be moaning about the drought in a few months. Best, Ed.


PS. There will not be a Wayland News this month, so our diary will not hit the news stands.


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