The weather has changed and it seems that the end of the growing season is almost upon us, and what a season its been, I can’t remember a hotter summer with highs of 28C! The garden has been its most beautiful to date, attracting visits from The English Garden Magazine, Gardens Illustrated and Scottish Field.
It’s also been our most productive year yet in the Walled Garden. We’ve had bumper crops of potatoes, beans, peas and carrots, not to mention the hundreds of pumpkins and squashes sprawling out of the beds and onto the paths around our pear arches. The fine weather has been a mixed blessing, we’ve had about enough of watering and moving sprinklers around the garden, higher temperatures have brought more pests and diseases into the garden and our leafy crops such as spinach and swiss chard have been more prone to bolting.
Well, it all came to an end this week with driving rain and gales, bringing down our runner bean wigwams and flattening many of our poor sweet peas. By the end of September I always start itching to get on and clear the beds ready for winter cultivation, the damage caused by storm ‘Ali’ gives me an excuse to start early.
It’s been a good year for fruit as well as vegetables. Whilst our apricot crop was slightly down on last year, we had a bumper crop of plums and apples. Of the 600 kilos of plums we picked this year most went direct to garden visitors but we always save a couple of hundred kilos for our delicious plum gin, and a batch always goes off to Baxter’s for bottling. So far we’ve picked and stored about 1500kg of apples, the bulk of which go into our cider but look out for warming pies and crumbles in the café this winter.
There’s still plenty to see in the garden, most of our cut flowers, especially the dahlias will go on blooming until the first proper frosts and the vegetable beds are still very productive. Very soon the fruit trees will start to show some autumn colour, starting with the apricots on the south wall. We’re hoping the new cherry orchard will give us a great display of fiery red leaves and the huge old beech trees surrounding the garden always look golden and magnificent in the low autumn sun.
If you’ve not managed to get to the garden this summer it’ll be well worth coming to our Garden Market event on Saturday the 29th of September. With music, street food, market stalls and plenty of entertainment it should be a great day and a chance to see the Walled Garden for just £3 per person and it’s free from kids under 16.