Growing Awareness - the land is blossoming!
Welcome to the latest news-post with our Head Gardener Bryony Middleton
The gardens here are full of Spring energy and such a joy to walk around and work in, noticing new blossom and flowers each day.
Bluebells are springing up between the wild garden flowers, the Wisteria on the coachyard wall is coming into flower and looking and smelling so beautiful, which will be followed shortly by our second Wisteria on the (new) pergola by the swimming pool, recently renovated by our Thursday conservation group.
Bright yellow Tree Peonies (below) adorn the woodlands, alongside Solomon Seal, Rhododendrons and the special Hanky tree (Dividia involucrata - pictured left) also just beginning to flower.
The orchards are awash with soft pinks, cream and white with Plum, Cherry, Pear and Apple blossom, having escaped the Spring frost (fingers crossed), unlike last year, and perhaps that's a nod towards a bumper harvest...
Blossom brings such a joy and lightness to the heart, lifting us out of Winter slumber towards warmer months with renewed optimism!
Meanwhile the production gardens have been a hive of activity returning covered beds to their former vibrancy with the first succession of peas, beetroot, lettuces, chard, spinach, radishes and herbs planted outside.
The propagation bench in the glasshouse is a continual juggling act to find space for everything. We are growing some really exciting heritage tomatoes this year rather than relying on the old classics and we hope to save some of the seed too.
Varieties include cherry tomatoes such as Ruthje, Goldiana, Yellow Submarine and Chocolate Cherry, the plumlike Orange Banana, and maincrops such as Quadro, Ruby, and the stripey Green Zebra, Skykomis, Tigrella, topped off with some Brandywine/Galina beefsteak.
The beefsteak came from saved seed from a friend in the South West Seed Savers Co-operative: an initiative to skill up growers and farmers to take back control of the seed system, developing skills and knowledge to save their own seed which is adapted to their local area.
I'll report back in the Summer, but in the next few weeks we’ll be turning over the greenhouse from Winter salads (which are really on their last legs but providing rather beautiful flowers) to mulching and planting the tomatoes and cucumbers.
Top garden tips for May
Early May is a great time to sow your French beans. It’s tempting to do this earlier, but they do really like the heat. My favourite are flat varieties such as yellow Golden Gate and green Helda as they are sweet and succulent, but we will sow some round purple and green ones too.
You can also sow all sorts of wonderful lettuces and endive, salad leaves such as Summer Purslane, Red Orach, peashoots, Agretti, Goosefoot Magenta Spreen. Mustard Salads tend to get flea beetle making tiny holes in the leaves during the summer, so I tend to avoid these in favour of softer greens, but are also a quick crop if you don’t mind the cosmetic intrusion.
There’s also still time to sow Summer and Winter squash and courgettes, alongside Basil, the queen of summer herbs and edible flowers Borage, Calendula and Viola.
Aside from this, we cannot forget the many hours of weeding, cutting back and mulching in the ornamental beds and that sweet smell of freshly mown grass! So you can see we have our hands full, and if you are local and would like to be part of tending these beautiful gardens then do sign up to our Tuesday volunteer sessions
Find out more about Sharpham's gardens here