Friday, 25 May 2012

'Some garden of broken stones and aquilegias...'

Not many stones of any description here, apart from some broken slabs of Bethersden Marble, but we have aquilegias coming out of our boots.Over the years, we've bought packets and packets of seeds of scented cultivars for the nursery, only to find in most cases that the resultant plants weren't scented or of much interest at all. Some of those that we didn't sell were planted out in the front garden, and now we have an infinite variety of form and colour. We plan to mark and save some of the more interesting ones-yes, some are smelly, but we know that what flowers in a couple of years will be different again, with a tendency to turn a rather insipid pink.

The recent hot weather, a real treat after what seemed to be weeks of cold and damp,has made things jump.Each day is greener and bluer: I heard a distant turtle dove the other day.I'll be meeting our Natural England advisor next month regarding our Higher Level Stewardship application , and plan to see if we can support this scarce but iconic summer visitor. We already have high hedges and the odd plant of fumitory, which is a major food source.


Thursday, 17 May 2012

Lunaria rediviva

Lunaria annua, Honesty, is an old favourite in the flower beds and growing in hedge bottoms about the farm. The perennial species, L rediviva seems equally accommodating, growing with us in an east facing bed just in front of the house wall-not the easiest position. To date, it hasn't seeded itself around, and in fact the seeds that we sowed this year are still to germinate, despite spells in the refrigerator. Perhaps when we  have commissioned our new propagation  arrangements we will be able to take cuttings.

The plant has a good cabbage solidity with a pronounced scent on the lilac spectrum:later in the season the lozenge shaped seed pods provide  further interest. Our bought it, mail order, from Cally Gardens.

We've attended plenty of plant sales this month, but a combination of unseasonably cold and wet weather and the recession has depressed demand. Mind you, to stand in the sun (when shining!) in a beautiful garden is a good way to pass a Sunday.

The cattle are making an awful mess of the gateways,so we will have to roll the ruts when things finally dry up:some of the worst areas will probably need harrowing and reseeding later in the year.

Wednesday, 2 May 2012

How fearful and dizzy 'tis to cast one's eyes so low!

I’ve never had a good head for heights, but the contractors who were repairing the barn roof took me up in their cherry picker so I could take a few photos o.f the farm and nursery.This was a few days ago:now the fields are stodged up by the cattle, who are most disconsolate. We’ll have to start feeding hay for a while until the grass gets ahead of them-what’s needed are warm nights!

The famous nursery
A view of distant kine
 The nightingale has been singing for a week now: I think that I’ve heard about four individuals either on the farm or on neighbouring ground. We do hear the cuckoo, but rarely; a couple of swallows were about the yard today. April and May are busy months for plant sales, unfortunately the grim weather and financial uncertainty mean that fewer people are in a spending frame of mind. Today we were at a Gardening for the Disabled Trust event up the road in Woodchurch, and at the weekend we will be at Horsmonden Farmers Market on Friday, at the wonderful Saltwood Castle, (in aid of the NSPCC), on Saturday, at Denbies near Dorking on Sunday, and at Belmont spring fair near Faversham on Bank Holiday Monday.In between at that, we’ll be hard at it pricking out and potting on, and keeping the farm running smoothly.