The love of gardening is a seed once sown that never dies. Gertrude Jekyll

Annie's Little Plot

Annie's Little Plot

Wednesday 30 May 2012

Apprentice House in Styal

I'm a bit late in describing this garden visit but I'm trying to catch up with posts this week and its definitely worth a visit. Martin and I visited in April on a schizophrenic weather day of mad blustery sunshine and heavy showers, first to one of the iconic sights in the Cheshire countryside, Jodrell Bank near Holmes Chapel.

This is a predominant landmark of the Cheshire countryside, the site has  a number of radio telescopes but the biggest seen here is the Lovell telescope, which is the 3rd largest steerable telescope in the world. You realise how big it is when you stand underneath it. It forms the Jodrell Bank Centre for Astrophysics which is part of the University of Manchester. There is a small information centre, but not as big as I remember from visiting when I was little! There are some gardens but at the time it was too wet to walk round.
After a lovely lunch in Alderley Edge, home to the football players of Manchester, we went to visit the Apprentice House garden which is in the grounds of Quarry Bank Mill in Styal. This is one of the best preserved cotton mill and has the most powerful working waterwheel in Europe and is owned by the National Trust. The Apprentice house was where all the children lived who worked in the mill, you can have a tour around the house and hear stories of the conditions for the children, that they were taught lessons in a small classroom and all slept in tiny, straw mattress filled beds. Its a fascinating tour.
But there is a vegetable garden attached to the house which was my real reason for the visit. In it they have tried to limit it to vegetables that were grown in early 1800s, plus herbs, medicinal plants and dye plants. Its a delightful little garden with small raised beds and paths in between.
There was a whole row of fruit bushes edging the garden and some very substantial rhubarb plants.
Some interesting scarecrows, spot the imposter!
The blossom was just coming out.

The garden also grows medicinal herbs, including plants to repel insects, and also plants grown for their natural dye, such as woad and madder. The young apprentices would have helped in the garden but now I'm sure its reliant on a number of NT volunteer gardeners but it would be a lovely place to work.

This is a garden to visit through the year to follow the progress of the vegetables. At the time of my visit it was still mostly just the winter and early spring crops like garlic, kale and leeks but I'm sure now it will be really coming into its own.
I also recommend, if you have time, to visit a small but lovely nursery in the main village called Croftland nursery.

Sunday 27 May 2012

A blissful week

What lovely weather we are having, all the more welcome because it has been so cold recently. Its lovely to at last be able to enjoy the light evenings and to feel some warmth. The plants are responding too and romping away now, I'm sure everything will soon catch up. Not sure how long this weather will last but you've just got to make the most of it.

I've had a lovely week this week, just two days in work and then on Wednesday I went to the Chelsea Flower Show. I caught the train to London mid morning, I normally go with my friend Tracy but she couldn't make it this year so I just went on my own. But it was actually quite nice to get some time to myself to think and read and I did some garden and allotment planning on the train journey. That was when I was not distracted by the views of the beautiful English countryside out of the window. I just love this time of year, the trees are finally getting round to fully opening their leaves and are showing off their bright green foliage. There were fields of buttercups and hedgerows full of cow parsley. Part of the journey is through the Cheshire and Staffordshire countryside in which you go past lots of canals filled with the brightly coloured boats. I also love spotting allotments which you often see by the rail side. There was the occasional field of oilseed rape which you need sunglasses to look at when the sun is shining so strongly. I saw the odd fleeting glimpses of wildlife, two hares in a field, lapwings and a buzzard coasting on the thermals. Then as you get nearer London I like to peek into the gardens. Finally off the train and then you join the throngs of people on the tube. I had a couple of hours to fill as I had a half day ticket for Chelsea so I went to the Chelsea Physic Garden, one of my favourite places in London. They were opening a new section of the garden (The garden of edible plants) on that day so I thought I would go and have a look. I'll write a separate blog about that at a later date.

The Chelsea Flower show was great, gorgeous and warm. 
Heaven for me to spend time looking at beautiful gardens and drooling over the plants in the Great Pavilion. It was a bit busy when I first got there but got quieter later, again I will write a couple of separate blogs about the show so that I can include some of the many pictures that I took of the gardens. There were some beautiful gardens this year and I think I might struggle to choose my favourite. I left the show about 7.30 and caught the train back to Huddersfield getting home about midnight. A long day but a lovely one and I had the rest of the week off work too. 
So I spent the day in the garden on Thursday potting on plants and doing some of the jobs from that extensive job list I wrote on the train.
My garden is starting to get going and there are some lovely blooms.
I also spent some time at the allotment, planting things out and trying to make some space in my greenhouses.
I've been up there to water this morning and its looking lovely, even the buttercups at the end of the plot!

My globe artichokes are growing huge, one flowerbud is getting big. I'm not sure when it will be ready to pick?

Saturday 12 May 2012

On the right path

Well its been a gorgeous day today and I've been making the most of it, who knows how long this will last. I got to my allotment at just after 12 and left at 5 o'clock and it feels like I've had a really useful day. Since my last post I have been up there a couple of times but again we have had some rain this week. It seems like it is never ending and still cold.
So this is what I've been doing, I managed to acquire a load of bits of wood and I've been making some more permanent paths on the plot. This will hopefully save me lots of time weeding and just make it a bit more organised. I wasn't really sure quite what I was doing at first but the way I have done it is to put two wood stakes in either side of the plank of wood to hold it in place. The pieces of wood were all different widths but never mind. Its got a rustic look! I dragged my other half up to help me last weekend, though not really much help apart from with the wheelbarrow, bringing the bark chippings that I'm putting on the path!
This is the second path that I made, the one I did today.
I've got one more to do but they just divide the main part of the plot into three.

You can see that they are not perfect but functional!
Just need to do the path which is edging my fruit bed.
Which I have to say is looking great at the moment, my redcurrant is flourishing this year, as is my gooseberry bush.
My alpine strawberries are completely covered in flowers.
But most exciting of all at the plot is the first flowerbuds appearing on my globe artichokes.
Its also a relief that my potatoes are starting to come through now. Just starting to peep out.
I also planted some sweet peas, some gladioli and some peas to replace the ones that the slugs had eaten. I just generally tidied up the plot and did some strimming of the edges which are getting a bit overgrown.
I came back home glowing, its just great to feel the warmth of the sun for the first time in a while.
By the way the two ducks that I showed a picture of, in my last post, that were making a home in my local park last week have been joined by another male duck so now a little threesome. They seem like a permanent fixture there now.