The Old Rectory


Isle of Wight


 It is almost October, and although the year is not done, this is a time of year when I start looking ahead to the next growing season, learning (hopefully!) from all the mistakes made this year, and with the added experience of another gardening year, combined with lots of garden visits, and inspiring lectures and shows. There is always so much to be learnt and put into practice, and in doing so, the garden gets better each year. And grows!

 Yesterday we visited Iford Manor, just outside of Bath, and I was astonished at the size of some of the Boxwood, towering 20 feet at least. The garden there having been developed by Harold Peto, at the turn of the 20th century was extremely beautiful, with the atmosphere that only time and maturity brings. and it brought home to me how things are changing here all the time. The orchard that we planted in our first winter here in 2002, now towers above my head.I planted vigorous rootstocks, weighing up the fact that I would have to wait several years before decent crops with the ultimate picture of large knarled trees resembling an orchard of years ago. In spring now, I am blessed with beautiful blossom; the scene from our bedroom window is joyous with a succession of Narcissi complementing the blossom of Quince, Medlar, many Apple, Pear and Plum varieties. The native hedges surrounding the Orchard and fields that we also planted are awash with Rose hips, Spindleberries, Sloes and Hazels. A veritable feast for the wildlife that now visit. The small woodland that we have also planted now towers above our heads. Rowan Berries, Viburnum Lantana with it's beautiful red and black berries at the same time, the glowing scarlet of Viburnum Opulus berries, are as beautiful this time of year as any of the garden plants.

Which brings me to a Wildflower Meadow, sowed last year on the site of our old Pig Field. Our soil is so poor and free draining that we hoped that 12 years of Piggy poo would perhaps not have too much impact! Anyway, to our disappointment (and chagrin - 25kgs. of wildflower seed is no small cost), the only species that grew was the Crested Dog's Tail grass, Cynosurus cristatus, itself a very beautiful grass, but when we had hoped for a vision of flowery loveliness, a little too much of one thing. On contacting the seed merchants we were told that they couldn't guarantee germination, and perhaps delayed germination would occur. Now I am not the most patient of people, and waiting another year to 'see what comes up' is not an option. So this week another 25kg of native wildflower seed arrived, and we shall be oversowing in the next week. And next year it will be beautiful!

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Pictured above is the first meadow, sowed about 4 years ago. we hope the new one will develop into something similar over the next few years.

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Pictured below is the Orchard,

September 2015

 The garden is a constantly changing thing; sometimes the changes are ones that we instigate, at others the changes are perhaps our decision but maybe brought on by outside factors. A case in point is the removal of much of our box hedging, a blow at the time, but one that we felt was the only way to go, when faced with unsightly brown hedges after being contaminated with the dreaded box blight. Areas that have not been infected yet will stay until such time as they do. We didn't consider spraying with fungicide to be an option, so have embraced the change. The extra light has been extremely beneficial to the borders; plants have revived that had long struggled in competition with the box. I shall miss the winter structure, but am not too downhearted!

But otherwise this year we have not made too many changes, after a very busy year last year it is nice to let the garden develop and have time to play around with the planting. The borders that I wrote about in 'News 2014' are developing beautifully, and even now, nearly October, they are still a picture, with frothy white Erigeron annuus and Stipa Gigantea both looking stunning, along with Asters, Dahlias and the last of the Roses.

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