The Old Rectory


Isle of Wight

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An occasional (depending on how busy I am gardening!) comment on beautiful plants or moments as they happen in our garden.

By roses382, Oct 5 2017 07:44PM

Berberis are not generally one of my favourite things; far too prickly to weed under comfortably, and although I have a large specimen of Berberis thunbergii atropurpurea, it remains purely because it was a present from my daughter, and not because I like it much (sorry Eleanor, if you are reading this!).

But there is one Berberis that I love unconditionally, Berberis Georgei, despite it being thorny, with non-descript yellow flowers. Most of the year it sits on it's sunny bank, quietly waiting for it's moment of glory, which comes in autumn in the form of glistening red berries.

It is currently laden; it's spindly branches pendulous with the weight of all those berries, like little ruby beads, which last for ages as the birds don't seem to be bothered - too many other tempting things in the hedgerows at this time of year.

The matt green foliage is a perfect foil for the berries, which look as though they should be adorning a Christmas tree. It will eventually make a shrub up to 12ft, mine is about 4ft and I look forward to the time when it has achieved full glory.

For such a beautiful thing, it is not easy to find. RHS Plant finder currently only lists 2 suppliers nationwide.

Mine came from 'The Place for Plants' in Suffolk although I was on a waiting list for a year or so, it was worth waiting for. I will be trying some hardwood cuttings shortly, so I can use it in other places that need a bit of autumn cheer.

By roses382, Sep 23 2017 08:01PM

Today was one of those delicious September days to be cherished. The sun was warm, the apples were shiny and heavy on the trees, and the garden was full of butterflies making the most of the late flowers.Today was the much anticipated Cider Making day. The Orchard has never been as abundant as it is this year. We planted it 14 years ago on vigorous rootstocks, to make large trees, in keeping with the age of the house. There are apples, pears, medlars, cherries and plums, but today the apples were the stars.

Two daughters were at home to help with picking; we borrowed an apple press from Digby, and were excited to use the new 'Apple Scratter' to pulp the apples. After a morning's work picking, scratting and pressing, we had about 30 litres of beautiful juice, some for the fridge, some for the freezer, and the rest to make cider. My better half being a Chemist, is well placed to fiddle around with PH, specific gravity and the like. Me, well I am happy picking the apples with the daughters and dogs. In fact I have to say, it was the most perfect day.

By roses382, Sep 20 2017 04:12PM

This year I have planted a number of Delphiniums in the borders to the rear of the Potting Shed. These four equal size plots are open to the ravages of rabbits, but Dahlias and Bearded Irisis do very well here in the open sunny position and remain largely untouched. With a bit of space in one of the beds I thought I would try Delphiniums as I had read that they are rabbit-proof. This does not always prove to be true and I have lost many so-called rabbit-proof plants, so I was sceptical. I can now report that Delphiniums are, here anyway, also untouched by rabbits.

One of the cultivars planted was from the 'Highlander' series, a range of double Delphiniums bred by a Scottish couple, Tony and Maureen Coakley. These are extremely hardy, sturdier than the average Delphinium, and come in the most exquisite colours. I have planted Highlander 'Moonlight', and it lives up to it's name, being the most beautiful mix of palest opal, lime green, sky blue, and lavender, with an unlikely hint of chocolate. Using it as a cut flower means it is at eye-level on the patio table and I can fully appreciate this wonderful colour mix.

Also in the vase are; Dahlia 'Emory Paul', the most edible shade of raspberry red imaginable, Symphiotrichum novi-belgii 'Marie Ballard' (commonly known as Aster - how I wish the powers that be would leave names alone!) with Eucalyptus gunnii 'Azura, and a solitary stem of Dahlia 'Hillcrest Royal'.

By roses382, Sep 2 2017 07:35PM

The polytunnel has never been so productive as it has been this year. We have had plenty of sunshine, and I have been more diligent about watering, feeding regularly with a stinky mix of Comfrey and Burdock leaves. The Padron peppers have been prolific, and the freezer is already full with Tomatoes and Tomato sauce. Aubergines have also done better than previous years, despite being smothered in Red Spider Mite. I have used the biological control here, Phytoseiulus, and this has visibly reduced the Mites, although I would have achieved better results if I had been organised and ordered a little earlier. I will also have enough Chilli Peppers to keep me going for about 10 years! These will shortly be strung above the Aga to dry; the strings resembling colourful Chinese Lanterns which will be cheery in the depths of Winter.

This year I have grown 'Vampire', 'Zimbabwe Black', and the pretty yellow 'Trinidad perfume'. An annual batch of Chilli Jam will also be heading onto the Pantry shelf shortly.

By roses382, Sep 2 2017 07:14PM

The sun shone for our last opening of 2017. In fact it was sweltering, just as it had been in June for our NGS day. Of all the groups that came this summer, there was only one afternoon where it rained a little. So we have been very lucky.

Over a 100 turned out on Monday, and the total raised was £967. The Red Cross volunteers did a wonderful job of teas and cakes, and everybody said lovely things about the garden, which was a relief, as things are definitely a little on the straggly side by now. The money will be used to buy 7 wheelchairs for the Island, which is fantastic. Many thanks to all who helped on the day, and to everyone who came and made it a success. We are looking forward to a bit of a rest now!

The photo below was taken the following day, the Stipa Gigantea really beautiful at the moment, and the Eucalyptus Gunnii 'Azura' making lovely fountains of steely blue.

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