Great Hockham Gardening Club Corona Diary - March


Although the rain seems to have eased a little its effects remain with us.  There are fields everywhere containing persistent patches of water. One forlorn sight we saw was a heron standing hopefully beside one of them.

But Julie Brown is finding no impediment to spring:


Hello Ed

My broad beans and garlic are both growing well. I was killing a little time at the garden centre, waiting to be picked up, spent too much money on a few packet of seeds, but we'll see what I can produce from them; carrots and tomatoes, I thought cucumbers, but had put them back and as it happens has turned out OK as Michael will grow from seed and give me some plants to grow on.

My joy this month has come from all the bulbs I have planted under a silver birch tree, first to show were the iris, then snowdrops and funny little daffs.

Then the crocus started to appear, masses of golden and purple. They have been glorious and in the sunshine we enjoyed as they opened their petals to enjoy it too, lots of bees enjoying themselves.

The aconites have appeared one by one then more purple and white crocus, I have planted hundreds. There is a clump of pure white waiting for the sunshine to encourage them to open.

Purple anemones are appearing and the leaves and buds of Thalia daffodil, scilla too.

Around the garden I have planted all the hyacinths I have ever had in pots, there are over 100.

I am seeing bulbs appearing in the new bed I made when I emptied and filled in the pond. Most of the bulbs I put in are white hyacinth, grape hyacinth are also showing flower buds. I did put in some black tulips to contrast; I must seem obsessed with bulbs, as this is the time of year that I love in the garden.

There are elephants ears showing pink flower buds and lots of Tête-à-tête' daffodils in flower.

I have sent photos of iris bulbs I planted in pots in the autumn, the white are the painted lady, yellow are Katherine gold and the purple iris reticulata, looking lovely, they may go into the garden.

I have pots of Royal Navy, pink elephant and gypsy queen hyacinth in pots close to flowering and 4 pots of tulips so I could see what they looked like before they went into the garden and I could decide where.

A friend bought me a mixed bag of bulbs for Christmas which I planted in a pot, the grape hyacinth are showing flowers ready to strike up.

I have tried to plant my new beds in one or two colours together; I wonder how long that will last.

The good weather in the afternoons had allowed me to work on the bed which will be Japanese themed, it is emptied of plants, I salvaged lots of snowdrops and lovely aconites, I had to wait for them to finish flowering.

Derek Archer very kindly came by early one morning and re-potted my mum's bonsai horse chestnut, he was able to get it out of the pot without breaking it, so once the tap root had been cut back and all the lovely fibrous root all went back into the pot, so it looks just the same but will be ok for 5 years at least.

I will soon need the help of a couple of really strong men to move the 3 lovely stones I have for the Japanese garden. Lets hope Boris doesn't hold up that bit of gardening.

I had edged the bed back in 1997 with individual foot long 4" half rounds, most of them have had to come out and be re-set enlarging the bed and replacing any that have rotten away, fortunately not many.

I have seen the female Sparrowhawk in the garden a couple of times this week caught a blackbird, also saw the Sparrowhawk herself being hunted by a big black bird, would that be a Kite?

I need to get up to the village hall to finish clearing the leaves, they have been wet so long and have not blown away. It will be a job soon to start preventing the grass from growing in the gravel of the carpark.

Had my covid jab on Thursday so have relaxed the last few days nursing a headache.

I have enjoyed Matt & Sue's Zoom quiz on a Wednesday evening even Tony has joined in.

I had no bread a few days ago so I made cheese scones from a school recipe. I still have the recipe book and the cooking apron I made in year one back in 1971/72.

Best wishes to everyone, Julie


Jane Dalton is reminissing: 

This month marks a year since the first Lockdown on March 23rd 2020, therefore 12 months since we last met in reality- seems a lifetime ago, doesn't it?

Our thanks over the last month to Matt & Sue Cunningham who have been hosting virtual get-togethers with a Quiz each Wed evening at 7.30pm. It has been very enjoyable and lovely to see those who are taking part – this takes quite a bit of sorting out so "thank you" Matt!

February seemed to disappear a bit more quickly but then it is a shorter month. I have managed to get out in the garden over the last week since the weather has improved: a joy! The allotment is looking quite ship-shape already. Even though gardening cripples my right hand, the effects of the injection I paid for so dearly in December only lasted about 4 weeks and I await X rays - this time on the NHS.

It is so nice to see colour in the garden again and be able to pick a few daffodils for the house. The birds tell me spring is in the air. The first seed potatoes are now in the Polytunnel. I am still doing exercises most mornings and trying to cycle round the block when I can. Still haven't even lost a pound but I'm losing a few inches! Since writing last the Govt. has laid out their Returning from Covid Plan - so all being well we could be meeting up before too long. But who knows!!? Take care and hope you all get your 2nd injections soon. All the best, Jane Dalton.


The weather has not helped Nigel Lincoln’s little friends:

After months of hibernation I am always caught out by the speed at which the garden changes in the Spring, so this year I am determined to be ahead of the game. The brief spell of warm(ish) weather at the end of Feb gave me the opportunity to have a quick look inside the bee hives. One is queenless and will therefore die out (they can’t make a new queen until the weather is much warmer); two are small but clinging on; and two are looking quite strong. Last year’s honey is nearly all gone, and probably just as well because I have not been able to pick up any new jars from my usual supplier in Kent.


All the Spring bulbs are now appearing, including a selection of rare hyacinths that we got from a specialist grower in Cambridge. I ordered a dozen alstroemeria roots from a gardening magazine in the autumn and potted them up – all but one have started to appear and I am really looking forward to a great show this summer. I have also made a start on splitting perennials, such as a yellow geum and purple heucheras, and taking cuttings from old favourites such as a ruby penstemon. The dahlia bulbs have survived pretty much intact in the garage and a few will be potted up soon to generate cuttings to increase my stash. The grass is looking sorry for itself and needs a good rake over, weeding and feeding – not my favourite job. We won’t mention the lumps and bumps caused by the moles. 


On the veg plot, the netting has arrived for my homemade fruit cage, peas have been germinated, onion sets planted and potatoes are chitting. Enough writing, lots to do outside.




I don’t know why, but Prue and I seem to be constantly busy. Just because there have been a couple of days of reasonable weather we feel we must get out in the garden. One big job was the bonfire: I know, put a match to it and get on with something else. If only. As always with these things at my age, the world seems to conspire against me. We always seem to be having bonfires, so we thought we would save up the stuff and just have the one big one. But now we have to be rid of it if we want to plant up the vegetable beds whereon it resides. Tried to get it going but it just would not stay alight (did I mention the rain?. Then we had the snow. When we had had about a couple of ‘dry’ days we thought we had to go for it. Talk about an effort, I needed to be in constant attendance and it still would not get going, in fact on several occasions it looked as though it was going to go out. As luck would have it, I had a rare attack of inspiration: the only way to keep it going turned out to be by dumping about 5 feet of 6 inch RSJ on the top. This compressed it enough to get the loose twigs to make contact with the fire bed. Then more stuff on top, return the RSJ on top of that and so on. But at least the whole lot was out of the way in one go – NO! The inevitable replacement bonfire is steadily rising Phoenix like from the ashes of the aforementioned inferno.


The other big job is the second bit of lawn edging on the opposite side of the drive. Big because to obtain maximum strength of the thing it’s a one-mix job - when I start I have to keep going until the job is finished. I have grown tied of the times I have sworn never to do this kind of job again. Will the mixer start? It now uses more Quick Start than petrol. Well, my trusty 41 year-old mixer did fire up and off we went - whereupon it started to rain. Carried on anyway, got it done.


Then there are our fish, sorry, were our fish: getting too big for the pond; bloke next door took them into his lake; give the pond the mother and father of all cleanouts; then found I needed to replace the old flexible pipes which had become about as brittle as a Brexiteer.


Onwards, ever downwards, Ed and Prue.


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