A season at Easton Walled Gardens

Thank you for your support this season! 

The gardens close for the season this Sunday in a flurry of half term activities including pumpkin rolling and bats.

To celebrate a successful season at Easton Walled Gardens and to thank you for your support we thought you might like see a selection of photographs from the season and read a bit more about what we have been up to.

Your continued support is deeply appreciated and here’s to another fantastic season in 2014, so we hope you enjoy our collection of photographs.

hellebore season at easton walled gardens
February: Snowdrops of course!More than 3,000 people visited the gardens during Snowdrop Week, enjoying Jackie’s expert talks and the fabulous drifts of colour.A mild year meant the winter flowering cherries and iris reticulata brought additional colour at just the right time.
March: The osmanthus hedge flowered uninterrupted by frost covering the pickery in a beautiful scent. Crocuses, little blue bulbs and anemones mingled with the last of the snowdrops too.It rained a lot! Steve took advantage of the time undercover, sowing and pricking out thousands of seedlings.
April: More rain but no late frosts allowed for plants to go out in good time and the mini meadows were packed with little bulbs.We saw very few queen bees buzzing around, providing cause for concern but fortunately with the improvements in weather into the year we saw plenty.Val’s intrepid artists also started their monthly visits to record and paint their own interpretations of the gardens through the seasons.
May: Our first ever series of courses included ridiculously over subscribed workshops on willow weaving.We were delighted with how many people came along to enjoy our arts and crafts workshops.In the gardens, the big show of bulbs was spectacularly good this year and hundreds of cowslips on the terraces looked elegant and understated. The swallows returned, with an extra pair nesting this year.
June: The fresh green shoots on the leaves and in the meadows promised great things while the horse chestnuts, hawthorn and laburnum were in full flower in a late season.The Cottage Garden and woodland walk looked wonderful and the first green salads were picked for the tearoom.Ursula was working hard on articles about containers for The English Garden and sweet peas for RHS The Garden.
July: Sweet Pea WeekWe grew more sweet peas than ever this year and the rain and sunshine made for perfect growing weather. Their scent filled the air around the tearoom beautifully.The roses in the Rose Meadows enjoyed a truly stunning year. Work begun on the big walls in the gardens, the first proper repairs for 100 years.The Cedar Meadow was cut but the Summer Meadows were reaching their peak, filled with insects on scabious, knapweed, clovers and trefoils.
August: The Environment Agency and Wild Trout Trust started the long-awaited work to the river, which now has a neat edge of hazel hurdles, pools and rills to encourage wildlife.The Vegetable Garden was packed and even supported basil this year, and the new homemade runner beans arches have been of great interest to our visitors while The Pickery was bursting with colourful cutflowers.
September: Landy, who organises our fantastic Autumn Country Market, made a really wonderful job of this year’s event. More than artisan craft and food 30 stalls – double last year’s market – along with great weather, llamas, owls and much more made for a great family day out.In the White Space Garden, Nicotiana sylvestris exploded into flower and Dahlias lined the paths in the Pickery.
October: Our second round of craft courses was extremely popular, and we are already planning for next Spring.Rob’s brilliant rose pruning course, which was packed full of information, proved a highlight, whilst other workshops provided a relaxing, stimulating day out.A mild October means that the Long Borders continue to look amazing thanks to Tim’s careful management. Podding sweet peas for sale online and in the shop has begun in earnest too!
Children’s Week marks the end of what has been a very busy open season here at the gardens.November will be quieter, though we look forward to our popular Christmas shopping event for the Friends of Easton Walled Gardens and their families.Thank you for visiting and we look forward to seeing you in the Spring!With best wishes,from everyone at Easton Walled Gardens

October Update

For gardeners, October marks the end of a season and the beginning of new plans. The daffodils now have their roots well established in the ground, the autumn crocuses are saying their final farewells and there is a chance to catch up with maintenance. For us this means indoor painting, washing plastic pots and clearing down the greenhouse again.

It is also an excellent time of year to sow sweet peas.

At Easton, we grow over 75 varieties of sweet peas every year and we sow them in succession. In October, the first batch goes into the longest pots we can find. Sweet peas love a good deep soil so any pots that can encourage the roots to point firmly downwards and not curled up like a sleeping cat is good. Then, we treat them rough. The best flowering sweet peas like a hard life over the winter. Put them in a cold frame and they will stay focussed on root production rather than masses of green topgrowth. If they do get carried away during a warm spell we pinch the stems back to a pair of leaves to stop them wandering off.

While we are sowing seed we still need to think about the position of other autumn sown hardy annuals like Ammi majus. Sown before winter they will make six foot of frothy white flowers next year. Depending on the number of plants that make it through to spring we may use it alone or mix it with Consolia regalis ‘Blue Cloud’. They are both tall airy plants that look good in any part of the border. Like the sweet peas we can sow more in the spring for a later crop.

The weeding doesn’t let up while it’s still mild and damp. Late germinating weeds are enjoying having bare patches of ground all to themselves. Weeding in the rain on a calm day is very satisfying. The ground is so damp that the weeds slide out if you put a fork under them. If you are very organised you could put crocus or tulip bulbs in the hole and get two jobs done in one.

Originally published on www.alantitchmarsh.com (01.10.10)

Sweet Peas – six of the best

Six of the Best.

Our favourite sweet peas (this week anyway)

Linda Carole 2012

Lathyrus odoratus  ‘Linda Carole’  launched by Derek Heathcote who has produced some fine varieties since he started his business in 1992. This striking flower is similar to ‘Mars’ but seems to come better from seed. It has a carmine stripe and a delicate line outlining the white background (called a ‘picotee’ in sweet pea speak). Very good scent for a new variety.

Matucana

Lathyrus odoratus ‘Matucana’ an old fashioned variety that has been around for 100s of years. The flower is smaller than the modern varieties but what it lacks in size it makes up for with an amazing scent. 10/10 on the smellometer!

Our Harry 1

Lathyrus odoratus ‘Our Harry.’ When we started growing sweet peas, we raised well known blue varieties such as ‘Noel Sutton’. One year at Chelsea I saw this pea across a crowded floral marquee and was immediately smitten. A very reliable, scented form with big flowers, this is the very beautiful ‘Our Harry’

Sweet Pea Evening Glow (6)

Sweet Pea ‘Evening Glow’ is a notable addition to any sweet pea collection as it has a peachy tone in its soft pink flowers that is absent from most other peas. This is a connoisseurs sweet pea, it has some scent and grows vigorously. Sweet Pea ‘Valerie Harrod’ is similar in colour. This is looking very healthy and full of flower on our sweet pea canes.

EWG 5.7.12 (170)

Grandiflora Sweet Peas are sometimes called Antique or Heritage Sweet Peas. This picture shows ‘The Major’ in the foreground with red ‘Queen Alexandra’ behind. They are smaller than their newer cousins but make very gardenworthy plants because of they produce masses of flowers and have a very strong scent.

75 varieties of sweet pea are on show in the gardens now and you can find seed available for sale in the gardens or through our online shop.

(Please note all photographs are Copyright Fred Cholmeley.)