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.

September at Chastleton Garden 2012

The sun shone on Chastleton Garden in September and we have had an autumn blush of flowers, vegetables and fruit. The volunteers and I have had a lovely month working in the garden and lots of enthusiastic visitors.
The Countryfile programme featuring Chastleton aired at the beginning of the month with great success. We have had lots of interested visitors to the property and even visitors from the New York Botanical Gardens who were keen to build links with the garden and send volunteers.
A big thanks to the garden tour guides who stepped up and helped out with extra taster tours of the garden when our numbers and demand for tours increased.

The Forecourt has looked beautiful dappled in afternoon autumn sun. We have widened and regravelled the two side paths to The Stableyard and The Best Garden this month.
The Agapanthus aficanus 'Blue Giant' in the ceramic pots at the front steps have finally come out in flower and look glorious. They have been grown for many years in The Forecourt.
The Pinus sylvestris takes a dramatic stance over The Best Garden. We have just finished cutting the Yew hedges in The Best Garden. We mow-in raised grass areas to give a 'ghost' of the large, glamorous herbaceous and rose borders that surrounded the circular Yew hedge in the garden in the Richardsons era in the early 1900s.
The Acer griseum in The Best Garden has amazing, patterned bark and its foliage is just starting to turn scarlet.
The Kitchen Garden has continued to put on a lovely display of flowers, fruit and vegetables. We have worked hard harvesting peaches, apples, pears, raspberries, mulberries, plums, climbing and runner beans, root crops and cutting flowers. The area has had a lovely pink and purple hue with the planting.
Peaches were hand pollinated by John and therefore we have had a good crop and have been harvested and sold to the visitors on the produce stall.
The Sweet Peas and Crysanthemums have flowered well and been picked by the volunteers to decorate the house and sold in small boquets to the public.
Our pumpkin crop - both large and small varieties- has been plentiful and romped across the top end of the Kitchen Garden borders amongst the flowers, squashes and beans.
The green manure - Red Clover - has flowered and created a carpet of pink and green which has attracted bees and other pollinating insects.
The rose border has looked at its best this month and has had lots of fresh blooms. These have been deadheaded by volunteers once they have gone over and this helps perpetuate further flowering.
The croquet lawns have had their autumn weed and feed and look in good condition. We have had the mallets and balls out for the visitors to play on open days in good weather and there has been the regular sound of play on the lawns and merriment from visitors.
Julie, Jane, Roger and I put the new high picker to good use and harvested the apples in the upper branches of the trees around the garden.
Other jobs done in the garden this month are:
-pruning shrubs and climbers
-planning events for 2013
-ordering spring bulbs
-hedge cutting
-leaf raking
-feeding pots
-planning, sorting and organising Apple Day
-dead heading
-spraying weeds
-catching moles
-managing the wormery
-sweeping steps
-Apple Day.