The Turning Of The Year

Janus, the Roman two headed god, looks forward and back at the turning of the year. We are doing the same. It is still dark and cold but the seed catalogues are arriving and I start with the vegetable seeds. I rely on Paolo Arrigo at Franchi for our main tender crops and use wholesalers for seed we want in quantity. The unusual crops tend to stick in my mind. The purple kohl rabi that makes good coleslaw, the tomato ‘Cuor di bue’ with its massive heart shaped fruits for salads and, for my children, lemon or French sorrel.

Flower seeds, particularly the annuals are a tricky game. Every catalogue promises fantastic flowers from new varieties. The problem is, I can’t resist their sales pitch. The new pictures are exciting and I want them all but I mustn’t forget to order seeds that were new to us five years ago and have become old favourites. This requires a fair amount of self discipline and an inpenetrable spreadsheet to prevent over ordering. On the whole I ignore dwarf varieties but then again they can be excellent for infill bedding. Alyssum is naturally small but punches high above its weight for floriferousness and scent. Rudbeckia ‘dwarf mix’ isn’t really dwarf at all and sometimes I just can’t resist a new cultivar however stunted its breeding. It’s this head messing stuff that drives me outside.

When temperatures reach 6C and the ground thaws then plant growth can start. The longer days have a major impact on emerging snowdrops, aconites, early irises and hellebores. Leaf litter, slowly rotting under the horse chestnut and black walnut is punctuated by pale green shoots (snowdrops) and fat buds (hellebores). Galanthophiles are also stirring. Christopher Lloyd used to call these snowdrop enthusiasts, ‘Galanthobores’ which is very ungallant. (Enough puns). This breed of men and women are making plans to visit the other end of the country from where they live for the chance to see and collect snowdrops slightly different from their own. It sounds daft and it probably is, but it doesn’t stop me from joining them.

In the meantime, the best colour in the gardens comes from the birds perched on the twigs of trees and shrubs. On a dreak January day nothing lifts the heart like the birds. We may still be watching for a break in the weather for signs of spring but they know that now is the time. The pheasant cockbird is a glorious sight in his full winter regalia. He is attended by blue tits (now looking properly blue), long tailed and marsh tits streaming through the trees behind his royal progress. In the Spring, he’ll ruin it all by flapping his wings and calling raucously like mad king George, but for the time being we believe in his dignity. He is matched in colour by glimpses of the kingfisher, and unsually this year, the bullfinch.

First published (2011)

Happy Gardening New Year!

What would you like to see in your garden next year? 
August is, in some ways, the New Year of gardening. Bulbs and seeds are dormant and won’t start to put out roots underground until the Autumn. Many plants, once they have set seed, are withdrawing nutrients from their leaves.

Like January, it is a good time to reassess your garden for the following year.

While you are on holiday, if you have the time in amongst family commitments, start to think about how you would like to see your garden next year.

There is time to buy seeds, bulbs, take cuttings and buy perennials and shrubs for Autumn planting. You could even plant some potatoes in a pot for potatoes on Christmas Day – nothing is too late!

This is what we are doing in the gardens.We’re busy harvesting seed, the bulbs are ordered and we are going to have a session taking cuttings from tender perennials to store over winter in the greenhouse.

In the garden now, in order to be sure of a continuous succession of interest into Autumn, the long borders and greenhouses are bursting with ripening produce and flowers.

Many of these are annuals or late perennials, which are important to consider if you want a long season.

Yellow and bronze become key colours in the garden, complementing the grasses and foliage beautifully. We particularly like the zinnias amongst the annual barley (Hordeum Jubatum) in the cut flower garden.


Autumn Workshops Week

Why not give our Rug Ragging Workshop a go this October? On this full day course, you will produce a beautiful panel of your own design using various fabrics from our large selection.

You will also be given your own wood turned proddy to take home to enable you to create your own works of art. For more information on all our courses, click here or email for a brochure.


Seeds for sale

We have a fabulous selection of our annual seeds available on the online shop for planting in your garden at home.
You can also purchase from our lovely range of sweet pea seeds.


‘Inspired by Easton’ art exhibition

Between 21st and 26th August a group of local artists headed by Val Littlewood will be exhibiting their works in the Coach House.
The ‘Inspired by Easton’ exhibition will be open from 11am – 4pm every day (except Saturday) and is free to enter. You must purchase an entry ticket for the gardens.


Autumn Country Market

Our wonderful Autumn Country Market is back for 2013 on September 8th with Lincolnshire’s finest crafts, plants and foods on show in our Courtyard.
Entry is included within your garden ticket, so make sure to come along and enjoy what is sure to be a fabulous event.