Here is an update on what Jason and the Gardenauts have been getting up to in the gardens since my last post. Apologies it’s rather long, we’ve been doing lots!
December turned the gardens into a winter wonderland, and caused us to miss a few days volunteering, but gave some great photo opportunities. The prolonged cold period hit a few of the more tender shrubs quite hard and we lost some big favourites like the Teucrium.
January was about cutting back, the ivy in particular. The old walls cannot take the weight of the ivy so we are taking it off in stages and being careful of wildlife. Our efforts revealed the top of the doorway for the first time in some years!
We have removed the palms from the front lawn beds and the beds will be re-designed this summer. The Palms were planted as part of an annual bedding scheme years ago and never envisaged to get as tall as they have. The Tete-a Tete daffodils have all been lifted and will go in the woodland glade next year. The Summerhouse has had a good weed and tidy-up, as has the Mulberry. Snowdrops and Hellebores popped up in the OPG woodland side.
In February, we discovered our regular feline visitor is called Casper and he lives in Canberra Road but clearly considers the gardens his playground.
In a previous life when I worked for garden charity Thrive*, I was involved in replanting the Old English Garden in Battersea Park and last week I and a former colleague went back to see how it is looking now, some 10 years later.
Although it has a similar feel and look to the Old Pond Garden, it is only walled on one side, but it does still have a large pond in the middle, which is full of water lilies in the summer – spot the heron !
Much of the funding was provided by Jo Malone London (JML) and many of the plants are those used in their fragrances including lilies, rhubarb, pomegranate, jasmine and, of course, roses. Some replanting has been done in the intervening period and it continues to be well maintained and supported by JML, volunteers and Thrive gardeners.
Our previous post was all about how well the garden was growing – and it really was – except it then just stopped raining, for ever! At the beginning of July, everything was looking nice and green:
But as the Summer heatwave went on, and ever hotter, the volunteers spent more time working in the shade..
And pretty soon all we were doing was watering. It has been heart-warming to see the volunteers arriving every Tuesday or Thursday, picking up their watering cans and setting off to save many of the plants we planted in to the Old Pond Garden just last year. We have lost remarkably few in the end, and as long as we don’t have a repeat heatwave/drought next year, most should get their roots down and become more resilient for the future. There have been a few casualties, and a few that clearly don’t like where they are. So as soon as Autumn comes, Jason will be directing some tweaks. As August came around, the garden’s colours and textures changed to become Autumnal.
It’s been a while since there was an update on the walled gardens, it’s been busy! The Volunteers are going strong, and the Old Pond Garden is looking particularly wonderful.
The Long Border started to run away with us, but is getting under control and looking incredibly full and interesting, even if it doesn’t quite have that “designer” look yet! We are waiting for the quote for works to the vandalised iron gates and hoping to create step-free access to the gardens.
We are continuing to point out a “Star Plant” each week. The latest is Silene armeria ‘Electra’, or Garden Catchfly. The Catchfly group of plants exude a sticky brown substance on their stems, just below the flowerhead, where insects get stuck. Have a closer look next time you pass by!
New ideas: we have started a “What’s in Flower” display in Frilly’s café, to entice visitors to come into the garden and see the flowers in situ. Also an Information table in the gardens (when we are there) showing a bit of the background and pointing out the plants coming into flower that week. Looking for more volunteers to do this, if anyone is interested? It’s a sitting-down job!
Kathy was very pleased to be awarded a Certificate of Recognition from the Volunteer Centre Greenwich/ RBG, although she considers that the recognition is for all the volunteers, not just her! Terry accepted the award on her behalf from the Mayor of Greenwich. Thank you to the Trust for nominating us, we do feel appreciated.
And here are some more recent photos from the gardens this month:
Thank you to everyone who came to last Sunday’s ‘Bunnies in the Beds’ and open garden at Charlton House. The ‘Follow the Carrots’ signs worked out a treat, and lots of small people arrived at the Peace Garden ready to find the Easter Bunnies and claim their prize. We gave it an International twist this year, after finding out how other countries celebrate Easter. So as well as Bunnies, the children had to find eg a Bilby from Australia, a Witch from Sweden, and some Willow sticks & feathers from Finland. No-one could really miss the kites (Bermuda) and we had a set of beautiful eggs from Ukraine to find too.
Here they come! Queues for the trail, and let the Hunt begin..
The day included a successful plant sale too, and Blackheath Flower Arranging Club joined us for a bit of promotion. Not to mention the Producers Market and Frilly’s cafe open all day.
Thank you everyone, these are wonderful gardens in which to hold an event!
The blocks of Epimedium look stunning at the moment, the flowers show up beautifully – it was worth cutting back the old leaves at the beginning of the month. New green leaves are just coming through, with lovely red markings.
Lots of the existing shrubs are coming into flower now, especially in the Peace Garden.
All Hail to the Volunteers! (Literally in this case, as our session was abandoned due to hail!)
Winter is over, swing in to Spring! The garden is waking up slowly, with Euphorbia amygdaloides robbiae showing signs of becoming a Star Plant. It’s rosettes of zingy lime green are unfurling and it really shines out in the sun.
These simple, unsophisticated plants, which rarely receive the recognition they deserve for all their efforts in growing and flowering, year in, year out, without asking for any help from anyone or anything, are among many unsung heroes of the gardening world.
Also showing off, Cornus mas or Cornelian Cherry in the Peace Garden, and lungwort, borage, rosemary, to name just a few.
All these are in flower in the Old Pond Garden and Peace Garden, they just take a bit of hunting for at this time of year! Come and visit and see what else you can find – the gardens are open from 4 January 2022. 10am-4pm Monday to Friday.