Garden Journal 2.5.21

RHS National Gardening Week
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Now, I know that in many cases I’m either preaching to the converted, or that I’m trying to convince a none-gardener that you ought to give gardens a thought – when you’d much prefer doing something else. But remember, you don’t have to be a gardener or practise gardening to get your dose of vitamin G, it can be as much about experiencing gardens, as opposed to the actual task of gardening – that could lead to vitamin G making a difference to your life.

To prove my point, simply look to the re-establishment of garden spaces within hospital situations. Patients in recovery in many cases aren’t able to wield a hoe or sow seeds, yet having access to a garden is proven to make a difference – boosting moral, calming nerves and shortening recovery times in some situations. Nature fills hospital gardens with activity and sound, plants move in the breeze and flowers follow the sun, carrying out as only they can a restorative role whilst people receive treatment or convalesce.

I’m not going to labour my point and I certainly don’t want to appear as if on a crusade, I just want if I possibly can, to encourage anyone reading to think about the importance of gardens to their health, of how they get their dose of vitamin green, their dose of nature or gardening. I’d like to ask you directly, if you don’t already, to sit awhile in a garden space, any garden space, and listen.

A bumblebee caught in the moment…

There may be car sounds, trains and airplanes or neighbours doing DIY, but listen beyond this and tune into nature. Listen and watch birds and bees as they freely appear, study a plant as it moves in the breeze and feel, if you’re lucky, the sun’s warmth on your face. It’s all there for us and it can make a difference to our wellbeing, even if it is hard to quantify. Furthermore, given free access to parks and many green spaces, you don’t necessarily have to spend a penny – although I’d recommend getting this out of the way first, so you can properly relax!

Being serious, let’s not make it a single, fleeting week of vitamin G, let’s carry it on. Let’s take the last few weeks of spring as an opportunity to recalibrate and tune into the simple pleasures that gardens and nature provide. Try it now, if you haven’t already of course, and set yourself up for a year, if not a lifetime of soul nourishing garden moments – do let me know if and how you manage to find your vitamin G. (Link to more info & resources at foot of post).

In my home garden

As the spring season marches on and due to having an eye on a possible change of garden in the summer, my usual gardening activities at home have been somewhat curtailed. I’ve held back from seed sowing, at least for the time being, and have made the most of all that is currently planted or potted in the garden; and the activity it creates such as border tidying and the rearranging to make the best of a display.

A favourite home container of the moment…

My crown imperials are nearly over and the hyacinths either dead-headed already or are nearing the chop – a beneficial exercise to encourage better flowering next year. Crocuses are but a distant memory, snowdrop foliage has turned into withering laces draped over the sides of each pot, and the tall Viburnum’s pink flowers continue to gradually fade away.

The wallflowers though have found their moment, particularly a ‘Bowles Mauve’ and another unnamed vivid yellow specimen, matched in intensity by a table-top pot of Tulip tarda. A golden Euonymus hedge, probably E. Fortunei ‘Emerald ‘n’ Gold’ is growing for it, along with the beech hedge and birch tree just over the wall, and grasses trimmed last month are now shooting, whilst alliums throw up their flowering stems.

Bright yellow flowered tulip tarda in a garden planterA splash of yellow with Tulip tarda

With relatively little therefore to do in my own garden this spring I’m enjoying, as often as possible, the opportunity to observe more peacefully the plants as they flower and go-over. It’s worth saying though that it’s not with sadness that I mention plants fading away, but enjoyment of being able, in moments of leisure, to observe the steady flow of plants coming and growing through the season, and I love it!

Heritage Open Days

Outside of my own garden, I was delighted recently to be asked to write a guest post for the Heritage Open Days website about growing heritage produce.

I will do little more here than add a link at the foot of this segment with a note that, as you can imagine, its subject matter brought along with it a rapid refreshing, along with some fascinating discoveries. I hope you find it as entertaining to read as I did to write! Heritage Plants – on the origin of species.

Some garden produce from long ago…

Sulgrave Manor Garden

Two weeks of activity I shall not attempt to cover, as so much has happened. If though I was pushed to write one word that comes to the fore when I think about the garden at Sulgrave Manor, it would be TULIPS!

Now it’s not Keukenhof, don’t get me wrong, but following a larger than usual investment in bulbs back in the autumn of last year, I was tasked with providing a spring display that would enhance the garden for the now postponed centenary celebrations of the Manor’s restoration and establishment.

It has been so dry I even had to irrigate!

A short explanatory quote from Sulgrave’s website explains “Sulgrave Manor opened to the public in 1921. In the same year, Sulgrave Manor Board (now Sulgrave Manor Trust) was established to preserve Sulgrave Manor for the public benefit and promote its historic and symbolic role in Anglo-American relations”.

To that end, groups of tulips and irises and much more were selected and planted with a big volunteer effort in late autumn and early winter last year, and all this is now coming to fruition. Although there’s a particularly colourful show along the ‘hot’ border near the old walnut tree, numerous other areas are singing along too, with a mixture of grouped plantings in all sorts of places including a good few containers. It’s all looking fabulous I can assure you!

Oh the colour contrast! 😎

There’s a couple of images included here, but if you’d like to see more of the garden at Sulgrave, a good starting point is the Sulgrave Manor Garden Instagram account that I regularly post to, and maybe even the latest ‘Springtime’ post that is up on the website too.

Although there’s a fair bit I haven’t yet mentioned, due to space and time I shall bring this week’s journal entry to an end there, as I really do have to get some gardening done – at least after a brew and a few moments contemplation. Until next time, thanks for reading and do spread the word about greening!

Regards, Gary

RHS Wellbeing Hub

My little National Gardening Week video

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