JULY & AUGUST 2014 MUSINGS by Maz
Gardening Volunteer at Tatton Park Kitchen Garden, Knutsford, Cheshire
All too soon the Groundwork Team of the RHS have fenced off the Showground much to the annoyance of the flock of sheep, who see that the grass is greener on the other side, running back and forth along the fencing to no avail. The Deer are calving at the moment, so have moved further into the wooded part of the Parkland.
The last consignment of weeds has been potted up for the show garden WW1 Trench.
Lots of excited school parties are roaming the formal gardens; it is nice to hear the childish chatter and see them enjoying their end of school year treat. I hoed the gravel flooring in the Tomato House where I work, and gathered a barrowful of weeds. Some interesting seedlings I left for further scrutiny.
The weather has been very warm and enjoyed by all, even those toiling on the Showground. All too soon the Show dates arrive and the medals are announced. The Tatton Gardeners won a Silver Gilt for their Tatton Reflects garden, showing four timelines: before the War, during the War, after the War and the present day.
Two of us have been missing from our Tuesday volunteering for two weeks, visiting the WW1 Battlefields in France and Belgium. None of the trees in the countryside are more than 90 years old, many of the scars have healed, but trenches are still apparent although greened over, and shell holes and explosion holes have become ponds. The name Somme actually means peace, which the area was anything but.
The Showground has mostly been returned to grassland, much to the relief of the sheep. The walkways are still visible, but have been spiked, soil laid down and the areas reseeded.
The tail-end of Hurricane Bertha had winds of biblical proportions and sadly these damaged most of the 12 glasshouses here. The Tomato House especially is now in a dangerous condition, surrounded by red and white tape barriers, so I worked outside and firstly walked through the raspberry rows, tucking in errant raspberry canes back under the retaining wires, then tried to persuade the flailing vines of the Marionberry (Loganberry), which will fruit next year, to lie in the correct direction.
It is that time of year again when Pear Rust makes its presence visible. The fungus overwinters on Juniper then ‘leaps over the wall’ into the Orchard. I spent the entire day picking off the leaves with orange patches on. This year the Rust doesn’t seem as bad; maybe last year’s picking off the leaves has lessened the infection this year. I can keep an eye on further outbreaks as I tie in the extension growth on the espaliered pears in the next week or two. The apple espaliers will also be checked. The rooks and magpies attack the fruit on the top rows, by balancing on the straining wires; this ‘vandalism’ opens the fruit up for wasps and other insects to indulge and leads to rotting fruit which can cause other problems. Hopefully they will have left some for our Apple Tasting Day on 05 October.
St Bartholemew’s Day (24 August) is said to be the start of heavy dews and the change of seasons.
Another day in the Orchard, two of us picking off Pear Rust on the three rows of freestanding pears in the Orchard lawn, and also picking up fallen apples. In the Kitchen Garden the Box hedges were receiving their final trim; the Team are finally getting on top of the weeds there. I believe there is a good case for a weed suppressing membrane, through which we can plant, and then top up with a mulch so the membrane is not visible to the Public. Certainly the soft fruit area in the Orchard would benefit immensely from this form of weed suppressant, as even with the best will in the world, there is not enough volunteer time to keep on top of the weeds in such an ideal weed-growing season as we have had.