29 Sep 2015

Beyond the Walls

Last weekend hosted our annual plant fair, we used our recently planted events room to perfectly frame the 30+ exhibitors stalls.  The range of plants on offer was fantastic with some real inspiration for providing colour in those tricky early autumn months.  The weather was fantastic and no doubt contributed to the record number of visitors since the plant fair started four years ago.

We are very proud to have hosted our first ever PGG meeting this year, the event was very well attendended and involved tours of the Walled Garden, the William Nestfield Parterres and the Arboretum, it was a little nervy inviting a group of fellow professional gardeners round to scrutinse our work but they were very pleasent, encouraging and excited for our project. I hope they can visit again in a few years to see the fruits of our labour and cast their expert eye once more.

Fueled by the passion of our excellent volunteer team and dedicated staff we are gradualy continuing to improve standards and lift the quality of the walled garden from its previously neglected state.  To this end we have reviewed our Volunteer program and hope to make their role even more valuable and rewarding by adding informal horticultural workshops, plant identification and extra social events such as our Halloween themed 'Bake off' set for the end of October.  If you would like to join our friendly committed team please contact Dene Wood d.wood@holkham.co.uk 07557200311 for details.

In the garden we have been very busy deadheading to wring out the last possible splash of colour for our visitors to enjoy and to continue provision of cut flowers for decorating the hall - something we are very proud to do.  Our 2nd room is largely planted with herbaceous perennials which have just had their third full growing season, this tertiary term has promted us to start looking at editing our borders a little, taking the plants that have made a good clump of growth (from their humble 1 litre pot beginnings) and we have been lifting and dividing them to help full gaps and increase in size our drifts of planting.  In the main, we have been dividing plants that flowered early in the season and are now beginning to die back, we will repeat this exercise in late winter / early spring for the late flowering perennials such as Rudbeckia and Asters.

Mulching has been a regular theme in the walled garden, we recognised that our soil was inert, structureless and devoid of life in general this combined with a need to reduce man hours spent weeding spurred us on to a large mulching commitment.  NASA may not have found life on mars yet but our own small scale terraforming seems to be working.

The veg patch is beginning to run out of steam a little but we are still harvesting Beans, Squash, Carrots, Beets, Greens and Celery. Over the coming months we have Leeks, Parsnips, Kale, Broccoli and Cabbage to look forward to.

Our Heritage Lottery bid is also gathering pace since the appointment of our Project Manager Helen Giles. Helen is currently working very hard to ensure we have everything covered to create a successful bid which will be submitted next summer.  This includes organising ecology, historical, access and audience surveys as well as looking for architects and lots of fundraising,
although I'm sure Helen could do a better job explaining this (the next blog post is yours Helen).

We have a new website in development which will give lots of information about the project (named "Beyond the Walls") and new Facebook and Twitter pages which we invite you to like/follow.

At this time of the year the gardens definately take on a new persona with warm bright clear days filling the air with moisture which condenses during the increasingly colder nights, this dew picked up by the lower light levels really adds a strata of romance and drama, this is something noted by our visitors when surveyed over the weekend.  As light levels drop and the nights grow colder we start to say goodbye to the green Chlorophyl painted foliage as it receeds to reveal its lesser known friends Caratene and Anthocyanin which are responisble for the typical autumn colours we see around us offering crimsons and oranges.

Still plenty to do for the team this season with our thoughts now turning to lawn care, bulb planting, sowing half hardy annuals to overwinter, clearing herbaceous material to allow access for mulching and much more so I'd better get back to it!.

Dene Wood
Head of Park and Gardens

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