Wednesday, 12 December 2012

November and December 2012

November and December has seen us bracing ourselves against further rain and wind and now we have definitely got to colder climes with impressive haw frosts and even some snow and ice.
We have been tackling a variety of jobs:
We have worked to cut back, sort and weed the herbaceous perennial borders around the garden. We do leave a few plants over the winter for seed for birds and for frost foliage effect. However, the majority of the borders are cut back and sorted for the winter and readiness for mulching with manure or garden/ mushroom compost. Due to the rambling nature of the borders it is important they have a good weed and sort out at the end of the season.

Here in the Kitchen Garden you can see where we cut back some herbaceous perennial border plants and have left others.

Leaf clearance is an ongoing project in the garden over the autumn and winter months. My volunteers and I have spent many hours out with the leaf blower clearing fallen leave and putting them on the leaf compost pile to rot down as leaf litter for re-use in the garden.

We have busily composted - these photos show this years cuttings and then below the lovely compost they turn into over a period of months.

Some of the leaves have looked beautiful - both on the ground and on the trees, as seen in these two photos of the Acer griseum and the ancient beech trees.

The peach tree cover was put up in Nov to protect the tree from rain that can carry and distribute the peach leaf curl disease. Alex, John and Roger S did a wonderful job putting up the structure and also doing some running repairs a week later after very strong winds caught under some of the sheeting.

Here is some of the turfing work that has gone on all around the garden. There were considerable repairs to be done after the lawns suffered from footfall from visitors on water-logged lawns. There was also turfing done in The West Garden as part of the development project in that area of the garden.

Snow and ice and frost have arrived and leading up to the shortest day on 21st Dec winter has started stretching out her cold fingers.
Other jobs worked on this month-
-Drawning up Kitchen Garden plans and designs,
-Tree survey and Ash tree survey in light of Ash Die Back Disease.
-Clearing and mulching borders,
-re-gravelling paths,
-leaf collecting
-ordering seeds and plants for the garden for next year,
-preparing the border for new apple cordons,
-ordering and collecting new apple cordons,
-tidying and clearing up the plant and produce stall,
-hedge cutting,
-sorting and turning compost bins,
-pruning shrubs,
-propagating strawberry runners,
-cutting back ivy,
-inducting new volunteers,
-pruning vines,
-collected plants from Hanbury Hall,
-machinery maintenance,
-wormery care,
-care of house plant collection

This is a pic of me - well wrapped up and covered in mud while looking at sorting and pruning in The Forecourt.
I would like to welcome two new volunteers Laura Evans who is working on the house plant collection with Patty and in the garden and Roger Gray who is working as a gardener and handyman.
I would like to say a massive thank you to all staff, volunteers and supporters who have help with Chastleton Garden this year and wish everyone a Happy Christmas and New Year. 

Thursday, 1 November 2012

October at Chastleton 2012

Autumn at Chastleton Garden.

October has seen a few beautiful frosty and sunny days that has shown off some lovely autumn colour in the garden. However, the general trend for mild, wet and cloudy days has continued and the poor garden is pretty waterlogged at the end of the month. We are having to re-route visitors around the garden at the moment to try and avoid some very slippery areas and very muddy grass areas.

The Forecourt in early morning autumn sun.

The lovely red foliage of a Prunus tree in the sun by the church gate.

The red foliage and berries of a Cotoneaster at the front gates.
The Acer griseum in The Best Garden is turning from green to yellow to red.

The wet weather and footfall in the garden continues to take its toll.

We are in leaf clearing season. Alex and Richard are seen leaf clearing in The Best Garden. We store the leaves for leaf mulch.

John and Mary have been doing great work taking out the inappropriate, modern vine eyes and putting in historic vine eyes around the garden. We are putting apple cordons on this wall on the top terrace this year.

Jane C has been working with Alice taking off strawberry runners and potting them on for use in the Kitchen Garden next year.

Hedge cutting continues and as part of that we can now start sumping back the other side of the West Garden yew hedge.

This is the growth on the side of the yew hedge that was stumped back in The West Garden about 11 months ago. It is regenerating nicely, having been fed.

Jane H picking the last of the root crops and weeding in the Kitchen Garden.

Graham chatting to visitors at the beginning of one of our 'taster' tours of the garden.

I have been busy aerating the turf around the garden. I attempted to use a motorised aerator, but the lawns were too wet and I have resorted to using a push along aerator. Here I am tackling the croquet lawns. This will hopefully improve drainage and problems with compaction.

We have been manuring some of the Kitchen Garden beds.

Clearing and weeding in the Kitchen Garden.

I have been busy planting hundreds of autumn bulbs for spring flowers. They will make a lovely display in the Kitchen garden and be used as cut flowers for the house. They include tulips, narcissi and hyacinths.

The next phase of the new Kitchen garden restoration continues. I strimmed down the green manure and then Joe did a fab job helping to rotavate the crop in to break down over the winter and will aid nitrogen fixing in the soil.

Karl has been busy edging the new Kitchen Garden beds.

John has been getting our fruit ready for the winter. He has done a wonderful job pruning and tying in the logan berry and putting hazel supports in for the new apricot tree.

Patty has been doing wonderful work with me and the house staff working to maintain and improve the house plant collection at Chastleton. She also happens to be my Mum - so we are keeping the horticultural theme in the family. Thanks for all your work in the house with the plants.

Other jobs this month are:
Clearing and tidying
Cleaning and sorting the greenhouse
Beekeeper session with local primary school
Wormery management
Hedge cutting
Planting autumn bulbs in the orchard
Garden tours

Thursday, 4 October 2012

Work Experience at Chastleton

Sam Halling is spending a week doing work experince with the team at Chastleton this week. As part of his week he has worked in the garden helping tidy up after Apple Day, pick fruit and veg, set up the produce stall and do some weeding, digging and clearing in the Kitchen Garden. Thanks for all your help, Sam.

Tuesday, 2 October 2012

Apple Day at Chastleton 2012

Apple Day was a wonderful day this year. We were blessed with fantastic, sunny weather - which is always good. The staff, volunteers and I worked hard in the weeks leading up to the day and on the day itself to make it a success.
We had a challenge on our hands this year as it has been a very poor year for top fruit and we have had a very small crop compared to last year's bumper crop. We had a late frost in the garden which damaged the fruit blossom on the trees in early spring. The blooms that were left struggled to be pollinated by pollinating insects due to the wet and stormy weather over spring and summer. However, with some imagination we made the day fun and informative for all. We had:
-Marcus making apple juice from Chastleton apples and selling apple trees and advising on fruit,
-Michael talking about bee keeping and displaying the observation hive,
-John talking about fruit and cropping with our apple information display,
-a fruit tour with John,
-Taster tours of the garden were given by Julie and Jane C,
- a childrens trail and family activities designed and run by Dawn, Linda and Anneflore,
-a cake baking demonstration using apples and pears was given by Jean,
-Crudges cheeses for sale,
-produce and flowers from the garden, jams and chutneys for sale - Heather, Jane C and Julie manned the stall,
-garden stewarding to meet, greet and direct the visitors was covered by Jane H, Julie, Jane C and Anna,
-croquet engagement with croquet team volunteers and visitors.

The Forecourt hosted bees, an apple exhibition and produce, flower and cheese stalls.
Jane H did an excellent job of welcoming visitors to the garden.
Chastleton Garden produce and flowers for sale.
Chastleton chutneys and jams for sale. Many thanks to Amanda who put a lot of hard work into making and providing a delicious selection.
Some of the garden apples and pears for sale.
Michael (our garden volunteer bee keeper) with his stand and the observation hive and honey.
John (below) is our resident volunteer fruit expert and was busy manning the apple information exhibition, chatting to visitors and leading his fruit tour of the garden.
These lovely ladies are two of our croquet volunteers from our volunteer croquet team at Chastleton. They did great work playing with visitors on the croquet lawns and encouraging people to pick up a mallet and have a go.
Heather manned the produce and flower stall, while Jane C and Julie did a wonderful job of leading the garden taster tours.
Jean bravely took up the challenge of doing 2 cake baking demonstrations (with me assisting). Jean was absolutely fantastic. She went through baking an apple and almond cake (that was gluten and diary free) and then a sumptuous pear and chocolate cake. She provided lovely cakes for the audience to sample. At the end of the session the recipes were available for visitors to take home and try for themselves.
The audience were very keen to sample Jean's wonderful apple and pear cakes.
Dawn and Anneflore took on doing the family activities in the garden with great success.
All in all a brilliant day was had by all. We had lots of happy visitors and made a good profit on the produce and flowers sold from the garden. A huge thank you to all those involved and look forward to Apple Day 2013. Anna.