If you’ve been lucky enough to enjoy dinner in the conservatory of our potager restaurant, not only would you have been looking over a wonderful fledgling display of tulips and anemones, you may also have been enjoying purple sprouting broccoli or cabbage fresh from the potager garden.
Our harvest of both vegetables has exceeded all expectations – however, the broccoli has had its time, so we’ll just have to wait until next year to sample it again.
The fledgling tulip/anemone display is less than five months old, and by this time next year plenty more bulbs will have been planted – promising an even more vibrant display.
The dogwoods, senecio cineraria, camellias, buddleja, achillea and callicarpia will also have had more time to bed in.
Something else that is a work in progress is our herbaceous border located by the patio on the right of the entrance to reception.
First started this time last year, it now includes lupins, Echinacea, hellebores, roses, asters, lamb’s ear, chrysanthemum, leucanthemum, trollius, nepata, achillea and osteospermums – and I’ve still got to put in last year’s dahlia tubers, agapanthus and nerine bulbs as well as the gladioli and crocosmia.
There will be space for one of my favourite summer annuals – cosmos. I have a soft spot for cosmos, not just because of its delicate flowers and feathery foliage, but because it is the first plant I ever grew from seed – all together now…. ahhh.
Anyway, down at the potager garden, the first early potatoes are in – I’ve gone for Pentland Javelin. My Maris Peer second earlies will go in the ground in a week or two, and the King Edward maincrop start at the end of this month.
The greenhouse and polytunnel are full of seedlings – from tomatoes to chillis, from marigolds to this wonderful cosmos.
In the raised beds I’ve so far sown carrots, shallots and radishes – however, I have only done this having used cloches to warm the soil beforehand.
Using cloches can help to extend the growing season, and is particularly handy when there is a flux in warm and colder weather – such as we have been experiencing of late.
It’s around now that some evergreen shrubs can be pruned – for precise methods relating to individual plants, it’s best to rely on a handy guide from, for example, the RHS.
However, there are some general rules that I stick to when pruning any plant. Firstly, the three Ds – remove any diseased, dying or dead material.
Then it’s the SSA – work to mould the plant’s overall Shape, work on the plant’s Skeleton (or framework) and open the center to the Air to help avoid fungal diseases getting hold.
Finally, you should always cut just above a bud, and I like to choose that bud depending on where I want the plant’s new growth to go – eg: if I want to balloon the plant’s overall shape, then I’ll concentrating mostly on outward-facing buds.
To bring this blog entry to a close, April will mark one year since I picked up the secateurs in the name of Crouchers Hotel & Restaurant.
It’s been a great year, and when I look back at the photos of what we started with compared to where we are now, I only feel excitement about where we will be this time next year.
Happy gardening everyone! – Tim