Saturday, July 14, 2012

A lush July...

As I walked into the garden this morning, I was amused to see the doves making the most of the puddles on the path to the house and having a good communial bath. This rain ain't all bad it seems!

Harvesting has kicked off in our kitchen garden, picking broad beans, sugar snap peas, spinach and beetroot for the restaurant to use in their menu.

And, if any of you are Gardener's Question Time listeners, I was at Hampton Court Flower Show last week and asked Bob a question about aphids should you wish to catch the programme on 'iplayer'.
We're also busy deadheading our herbaceous plants in the hope of another florish before the 'summer' (ish) is through, working our way through the Hesperis, Campanula and Aconitum at the moment.

Finally, for those of you who have been following my blog, this is sadly my last one for Snowshill as I will be leaving the gardens at the end of this week. Thanks to those of you who have left comments and I hope what I have written has been of interest....who knows, maybe you'll find me amongst a row of beetroot in another garden one day.

Right, sun's out...I'm off!

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Boxes, birds, beans and borage

This week I've returned to one of the first jobs I carried out when I started at Snowshill a year ago - box hedge cutting! From catching a tan earlier this week to then chopping away at the hedge in heavy downpours, the weather has certainly been unpredictable. Still, best to look on the bright side - box cuts better when wet. And yes, I can't help starting my blog with a weather comment; I'm English and a gardener so would you expect otherwise?

Since my last blog's mention of the Blackcap in the orchard, we've had a number of unexpected visitors in the garden including a woodpecker (which I often hear but not actually flew a metre or so by me!), a duck laying by the pond in Wolf's Cove, frogs and new fish in both ponds.

We're nearly on top with the planting now - Orlaya and Borage went in the herb border today and extra pots (inc. also White Foxgloves and Monardas) are selling well on the trolley. I harvested the first of the Broad Beans yesterday which were snapped up quickly by visitors and the restaurant will be using the next picking for their menu next week.

This rain has meant the garden is looking so lush (irises, poppies and cardoons all towering above me)...unfortunately the wind hasn't helped which has meant that plants are needing additional support. I have to catch myself sometimes here at Snowshill, as it feels like I am Alice exploring the gardens in Wonderland rather than an NT gardener.

Until next month, here's some photos of how the garden's looking today...

The subtle scent of Hesperis matronalis (Sweet Rocket) is abundant throughout the garden at the moment

Our boss 'Tinker' is clearly keeping us all in check in the greenhouse

Our 'No Dig' bed is starting to come to life with Spring Onions and three varieties of lettuce doing well (I planted the Spring Onion round the edge in hope that the scent may deter slugs...any ideas?)

Volunteers Mike and Cliff have done a fantastic job with the veg garden

Had to join the queue of visitors who were busy taking pictures of the Long Border this afternoon

Thursday, June 7, 2012

The wild sides of Snowshill

Ah, the delights of the unpredictable English weather! We've replaced our sun hats for waterproofs and made a quick dash to plant up summer bedding in between down pours. In keeping with Charles Wade's love of blues and purples, today we've been planting Perovskias, Agastache, Phlox, Clematis and Lavenders in the Manor wall border. This should provide a brilliant backdrop to the house later this summer (and they'll be pictures to show for it).
 Around five years ago, wildflowers were introduced in the main orchard to attract benefical wildlife into the garden. With the daffodils and cow slip now over, the orchard is now blooming with Yellow Rattle, Night Flowering Catchfly, Red Campions and Early Spotted Orchids - with Ox-eye Daisies and Geraniums to flower soon. 
Yellow Rattle (Rhinanthus minor)

Red Campion (Silene dioica)

Night Flowering Flycatcher (Silene noctiflora)

To top it off, we've also spotted a Black Cap which Linda, who's been Gardener-in-Charge here at Snowshill for 23 years, has never seen or heard in the garden until yesterday...and it was a new sight for me too! The bird's made an epic journey from South Africa and makes a sound like two pebbles hitting together (which I witnessed today). If, like myself, you thought a Black Cap was a type of mushroom, here's a picture below to clear up any confusion.

Black Cap

Sunday, May 20, 2012


Veggie Mike. Our wonderful volunteer who has spent many years at Snowshill keeping the kitchen garden happy and productive

Our new No dig bed. Full of homemade compost (thanks to many barrels carted about - in all weathers - by our volunteers). Spring Onion seeds have been planted round the edge and I'll be sowing all sorts of weird and wonderful varieties of salad leaves in the greenhouse this afternoon to go in the middle of the watch this space!

Young doves. Sussing out the outside world...more next month

Friday, May 11, 2012

Wake up!

The garden is waking up with all this rain - though some sunshine would also be appreciated now.  Anyway, pictures speak louder than words.

And they'll be news and pictures of our new 'No Dig' bed to follow shortly.

    Ferns starting to unfurl

   Fantastic red flowering Tree Peony (Paeonia suffruticosa)

    Our wonderful Quince is in blossom...Yum! 

Friday, May 4, 2012

A stroll in the rain is good for the soul

As the seemingly bottomless rain clouds continue to drop upon the gardens here at Snowshill, I thought it was time to update the blog with some news of what we've been doing outside...that is, in between our moments of drying out!

With the rain comes rapidly growing shoots, so we've been tying in Clematis and staking other perennials (predominantly Phlox, Aster and Thalictrum) with hazel branches. Hazel is brillant for several reasons. One; it is grown on the property and is therefore a natural, cost effective resource. Two; by bending the branches, you can easily weave it into the shape you want without the need for string or ties. And finally (though I'm sure there's plenty more reasons), it blends well into the garden setting - much more pleasing to the eye than garden canes!

I remember my garden history teacher saying that the best time to explore a garden is in the rain. I think I agree; it is the time you get the true colours and scents of what surrounds you. And this week we've started the garden storytelling talks; not only do they bring the garden to life, they also help to make sense of the place, to understandwhy it looks, feels, smells and sounds the way it does. Whether it is in the rain or sunshine, come listen, learn, enjoy and explore our gardens soon.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Blooming April

All's happening in the garden now the growing season's kicked off and we've finally had some rain...buds are unfolding, seedlings are shooting up in the glasshouse, the new soft fruit bushes are in full leaf and we've a NEW 'no dig' bed soon to be filled with salad crops (more photos coming soon)

In the rather crowded glasshouse...French beans ready for transplanting and celeriac seedlings soon to be potted on...

...And blossom's out on our pear trees...worth a sniff if you're visiting anytime soon!

Friday, April 6, 2012

A bird's eye view

Thanks to some handy scaffolding which was in place last week, I scrambled up and took some photos of the garden as the doves see it...

...Shame it's not a permenant feature - I'd happily spend my lunch breaks up there!

Friday, March 30, 2012

A fox with a fetish

It is the day before opening! And the garden is about there; paths cleaned, grass re-turfed and mowed, (most) beds mulched with rich, homegrown compost, seeds sown for the veg garden, busy, busy, busy. As the trees and shrubs bud up, delight is had watching them open towards the sun. And what sunshine it has been...lugging wheelbarrows of compost up the Long Border in the midday sun, I'm quickly reminded that it is still March as I see all the wonderful daffs out in the orchard.

And we've a new challenge in the garden...Whereas last month it was pheasants digging up bulbs, now it seems to be (a rather stinky) Mr Fox munching away at our tulip bulbs! Fortunately, he missed a few (or was full up!) so there are still some to admire.

Let the drawbridge rise....

Friday, March 2, 2012

Want to get involved in the garden?

Snowshill is now advertising for volunteers to help us in the garden. Roles include harvesting, story telling/guides and general gardening. For more information, visit the Do-It website here or email me:

Friday, February 24, 2012

Up close and prunable

With the opening date fast approaching, we're busy tidying and preparing the garden for the new season. Following a fantastic fruit tree pruning course by the Gloucestershire Orchard Group earlier this week (thank you again Dave!), we've been pruning our nut trees (battling the cold wind earlier this week - well done Lynda and Pete!) and we're now keen to get started on the rest of the orchard. The new soft fruit bushes are in - pruned and fed but ready for a good mulch - so the restaurant is looking forward to including home grown currants and gooseberries into their menu for the years ahead.

Meanwhile our snowdrops are looking fantastic - a magnificent sea of white covering all the wooded areas with further scatterings across the orchard and borders. Getting on all fours to take a closer look this morning, I praise the fine skill of the specialist; each variety displays such subtle diffferences that only close observation (and time) can appreciate. As a gardener, such experiences remind me of the importance in taking time; so you can get up close to nature, find value and learn about what it has to offer.   

And it isn't just us who have been enjoying the warmer weather in the garden this week - the bees were out yesterday and the Crocuses were wide open lapping up the sun's rays. Good to see... but I'm certainly not putting my thermals away just yet!

Friday, February 3, 2012

Snowshill Hellebores
 Taking a welcome break from the hard frosts here at Snowshill, us gardeners are beginning to compile a regular blog to keep everyone updated with what's happening outside, in preparation for our opening next month.

Since Christmas, we've been combating the cold by carrying out a range of warming tasks around the garden from coppicing to preparing a new soft fruit ground behind the veg garden...more on this (includes photos) soon!

But, whilst we struggle with the cold, Snowdrops, Hellebores and Aconites are proudly raising their heads and being winter colour to the garden.

More news soon...keep warm all!