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 10 2018 08:46AM

Last year we made a large, rectangular Squash/Pumpkin Bed, constructed from Sleepers joined together with metal rods to hold them in place. We wanted to make use of the clippings from the Wildflower Meadows and thought it would be perfect for growing Pumpkins in, as in the past they have self seeded into the Compost Heaps where they seem perfectly at home. We made this next to the Polytunnel where the plants could wander where they wanted. Using the tractor to load the composting grass in to the bed, it was left to rot down over the winter, with a topping of green waste compost. Last year was extremely successful, but I never quite got around to a blog! This year, despite being so dry, has also been fantastic, and at the weekend I harvested 73 Squash of 5 varieties, these being Red Kuri, Crown Prince, Festival, Barbara and Little Dumpling. I concentrated on the slightly smaller varieties as the bigger ones are so difficult to cut and prepare. Even so, some of the Barbara Butternuts grew so big that I could barely lift them! This is a lovely stripey variety with a long neck and few seeds that has become my 'go to' Butternut.

I think everybody I know will be getting gifts of Squashes over the coming weeks as, much as I love eating them, I will never get through so many, and with 2 daughters away at Uni, the household is sadly diminished. Middle daughter has complained that she had to buy some frozen, prepared Squash, and it 'tasted nothing like yours, Muv'! I can't quite work out how to send some to Edinburgh, short of a very long drive!

Anyway, I am rambling, so here are the photos, one taken in July, and the second, last weekend.

By roses382, Jun 17 2018 08:07PM

Last week I was very excited to find 4 wild Orchids growing in the first of the perennial Wildflower Meadows that we sowed 5 or 6 years ago. The Orchids arrived by themselves, which is fantastic as it means that after several years of lowering the soil fertlity to check the rampant growth of the vigorous grasses, and with the spreading of the Yellow Rattle, which is doing very nicely, the habitat is now right for the Orchids to grow.

I am not sure on the identification. There are no spots on the leaves, and they are flowering later than the Early Purple's on the verge up the road. So I don't think they are Early Purple's or Common Spotted. The flowers have no veining on them so they are not Green Winged, and not stubby enough for Pyramidal.

My best guess is Southern Marsh Orchid, although the soil here is generally very dry we do have a few wetter patches, and I have read that they can grow in drier soils. But the more I read about hybridisation between the species and variations of flower colour and shape of lobing within the species, the harder it seems to make any identification without an expert on hand. So any help/comments very gratefully received!

By roses382, Jun 17 2018 07:17PM

Here is the poster for the forthcoming fund-raising event in aid of

The Motor Neurone Disease Association.

Please come along and support this very worthy cause.

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.

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