Growing Awareness - building walls and staying sharp at Sharpham

1st March, 2020
by Julian | 3 Min Read
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Welcome to the latest news-post with our Head Gardener Bryony Middleton

Busy building walls and staying sharp at Sharpham

Spring is upon us, and the garden is awash with trails of bright flowers and blossom: daffodils, snowdrops, primroses, hellebores, magnolia and camellias.

While our salad and greens are still going strong, we have harvested our last leeks, purple sprouting broccoli and the vegetable beds are waiting their new seedlings. Luckily the wild garlic and fresh nettles are poking through and can be added to our harvest for the kitchen delicacies. 

Meanwhile we are trying to finish everything on our long ‘winter’ jobs list and embrace the new season. We have achieved a lot in the last dormant season in the Sharpham gardens, despite what feels like continuous rain since last October!

The sowing plan has been explored and reinvigorated with new seeds, sowing schedules and ideas for an ever-bounteous harvest for the year, while pruning is underway in our orchards and we are honing new skills to ready ourselves for the year ahead. Here’s a little recap of some of the training we’ve had in the last few weeks:

Dry Stone Walling

Along the Ladies Walk into the Woodland gardens is a low wall, damaged by a fallen Eucalyptus tree over 5 years ago and covered in ivy (you wouldn’t even have known it was there).

But come this Spring we organised a session with local stone waller Martin Stallard to rebuild it with our volunteers. A lot of the work is in the preparation, as often is the case.

We cleared the wall of plant matter, moved soil and stones from the broken sections of the wall and piled it all up. Martin then taught us how to lay the keystones to create a firm base for the wall, how to fit and overlap stone and the importance of structure and the artistic eye!

Then it was up to us to finish it. The volunteers learnt really quickly and within a week it was finished. The stone here is quite bouldery and quite challenging to fit, but the wall is lovely and really tells the tale of the journey we all went through to complete it. We’ll finish the bank when it is drier and we'll put in a nice bench.

Tree Care Day

We spent a beautiful sunny and haily Sunday on March 1 looking after some of the tree guards on the Great Run parkland opposite Sharpham House. We had a great crew of volunteers who excelled in the group work cutting batons and fencing wire, post-banging and a healthy dose of gazing at the most spectacular rainbows (or hailbows!) that graced the grounds in the afternoon. Thanks to everyone who came, and if you want to know more about our Volunteering opportunities, you can sign up to our Volunteering mailing list here

Tool sharpening and fixing

Hot off the press this week: we had a session with Melissa Milne, who taught the garden crew to sharpen secateurs, shears and loppers and fix new handles to broken spades and forks that see us through many a tonne of soil and hard graft over the season.

We learnt some great skills and feel ready to implement them on the rest of the tools. Gotta keep sharp at Sharpham!

What to sow now: Finally the propagation bench is already nearly full. There are many things to start sowing this month, ideally in a warm greenhouse or heated propagator: peppers, chillis, aubergines, tomatoes, artichokes, kale, brussels sprouts, cabbage, broad beans, beetroot, celeriac, endive, lettuce and oriental leaves, chard, spring onions, onions, leeks, spinach and radishes.

Find out more about Sharpham's gardens here

Find out how to volunteer in Sharpham's gardens and on the wider Estate here