Saturday, 16 June 2012

Chastleton Village Fete

Fun at the fete

Chastleton garden was transformed last Sunday when the village held its fete in our grounds with the primary aim of raising funds for repairs to the church roof.

Test your strength at Chastleton!
Photo by John Hackston

After a week of appalling weather, the rain luckily stayed away for most of the day and we had a constant stream of visitors buying from the stalls, doing house and garden tours and generally enjoying the relaxed atmosphere, wonderful refreshments, games and entertainment.
Stalls in the Forecourt

Relaxing on the Terrace

Garden volunteers, Julie and Jane, kept busy manning the plant stall and doing tours of the garden

Seeing the stalls in the Forecourt, Best Garden and North Terrace reminded us of the nostalgic photos in our archives from earlier times when fetes and parties were held in the grounds.

1920/30s party/fete on the North Terrace

Well done to all the organisers, stall holders, staff and volunteers who helped make the day so successful. Below is the ancient Chastleton church which benefits from the proceeds.

Tuesday, 5 June 2012

May 2012 at Chastleton Garden

May has been an eventful and busy month. The early part of the month saw the end of the heavy April rains and storms, but not until a few trees in the park and car park had fallen from the windy weather.

This large Ash tree fell casulty to a storm early in the month.

The green house has been crowded with vegetable and annual cut flower seedlings being brought on ready to plant out in the Kitchen Garden and to sell on the plant and produce stall. Myself and the volunteers have worked hard potting on with peat free compost and keeping the plants watered, happy and healthy in the glass house and cold frame. Plants are hardened off in the cold frame before being planted out in the garden.

Green House/Glass House.

Cold frame with plants getting ready for planting out and sales.

The spell of rain and then warm, sunny weather has done wonders for the lawns and the growth of the plants around the garden. We have all been working hard to try and keep on top of the weeds as well, as they have put on a vigorous rush of growth with the good growing weather.
The Kitchen Garden is nearly fully planted with vegetables and cut flowers. The perennial herbaceous borders are also looking lovely as the plants start to bloom.
Here are the root crops and some annual cut flower seedlings in the Kitchen Garden. The root crops are mainly sown direct 'in situ'.

Potatoes - main crop. These are earthed up and growing well.

Brassicas - red and green cabbage and calabrese are in place and netted against pigeons and butterflies.

The onion sets are growing on nicely.

The hazel wigwams are set up and planted out with a variety of sweet peas, climbing french beans and runner beans. The wire helps protect from any rabbit visitors and the cats and is soon covered up by plant growth.

The currant bushes, gooseberries, raspberries and strawberries are all coming on well.

The four new fruit and veg beds have the red clover green manure growing on and now it is getting well established we will tackle some of the weeds that are competing with it. The beds are all beautifully edged by volunteers to keep them neat. The green manure will be mown off after flowering and then ploughed in later in the year.

The flowers are looking lovely in the garden too. Some of the gorgeous blooms are peonies, irises, Wisteria sinensis 'Alba', Clematis montana and Rosa banksiae 'Lutea'.

Peonie in The Kitchen Garden.

Iris in The Forecourt.
We divided the Irises around the garden last year and it has certainly increased their vigour and flowering capacity this year.

Wisteria sinensis 'Alba'. This filled The Forecourt with its sweet candy smell from the blossom.

Clematis montana rambling through the ancient Box tree in The West Garden.

The glorious, thornless Rosa banksiae 'Lutea' romping through a Holly tree in The Wilderness area.

We had some interesting insights into the history of the paths in The Forecourt from Jacobean times this month. The Direct Labour Team from Coleshill dug a trench across The Forecourt to put in a water pipe and we had Gary, the archeologist, out to look at what was revealed. As you can see below, the very neatly preserved paths are easy to find beneath about a metre of soil and gravel. We hope to go on and geophys The Forecourt at some point and maybe put in a couple more careful trenches to find out more about the layout of pathing and grass in the 1600s.

Jacobean surface in The Forecourt.

Members of the team continue to work hard on shaping the topiary and improving its health. After its spring feed it is greening up well. Alex, Mary and Roger have been particularly industrious with their shears. While I am working to reshape 'The Horse'. Julie attended a useful course on topiary at Langley Boxwood Nursery and we hope to run some workshops on 'Topiary and Chastleton' for volunteers this year and the public next year.
The topiary in The Best Garden being trimmed and shaped.

Kenny and Terry came and mended the end of the garden wall in The Wilderness - much to my delight, as it has been in major disrepair for years. Now it is reconstructed it should also help keep the deer out of the garden.

Terry and Kenny having repaired the garden wall.

So another busy month. Here are a few other things we have been up to in the garden. Many thanks, as always, to my fantastic volunteer team who are a great support and so hard working.
-Clearing debris from storm damage.
-Rangers cutting up and chipping fallen trees in storm damage.
-Green house and cold frame care.
-Tours of garden.
-Engagement with visitors.
-Compost workshop for the public.
-Earthing up potatoes.
-Sowing root crops and green manures.
-Planning the next stage of development for The West Garden in June and July.
-Elevating the laterals on the pear espalier trees to increase their vigour.
-Pruning fruit trees.
-Feeding the Yew hedges in The West Garden.
-Dead heading.
-Tying in and pruning roses.
-Planting out vegetable seedlings and annual cut flower seedlings.
-Putting up wigwam supports.
-Planting a new nectarine tree.
-Pruning topiary.
-Running plant and produce stall.
-Picking rhubarb.
-Watering with watering cans.
-Potting on.
-Continuing to launch and run the new garden exhibition.