We are growing eight varieties of Heritage french beans, six dwarf and two climbing. These are the dwarf beans - Pawnee, Hungarian Butter, French Horticultural, Soldier, Mr Brooks' Blue and Jesse Fisk. The upturned plant pots were to keep a layer of fleece from flattening the plants when we covered them during some cool nights. We have also surrounded this part of the plot with a wind break to protect fro damage by the wind action, and the drying effect. We get stronger winds on our plant because of the "Venturi Effect" caused by the wind being funnelled through the Nunbrook Valley and the railway embankments. Yesterday the wind was about 40mph and the same again today. The protection is helping a lot, but the plants are getting a bit of a battering still.
The climbing beans, Mrs Lewis's and Caseknife, we have planted between the tall peas. This will give the beans some protection and also help us keep the different pea varieties separate so we don't get too muddled when we are harvesting for seed saving.
We will be providing regular reports on the progress of the Heritage seeds we are growing in our Hogshaw garden, a parallel effort with Serpentine. This week we are reporting on the peas. We are growing six varieties and all are tall peas. Two are mange tout - Eat All and Golden Sweet. Both of these are showing a red tinge to their stalks. Golden Sweet has now been adopted by a commercial grower so strictly is no longer an at risk heritage. Telephone is new for us this year so we will see how it performs. Stephens produced two different plantlets, one sort "normal" and the other with multiple stems. We have planted them separately to see if they continue to go in different directions. Newick and Magnum Bonum are staples we have grown for many years, Newick being round seeded and Magnum Bonum wrinkle seeded. We have started planting out french beans so will report on those next time.
Telephone Stephens Golden Sweet
Magnum Bonum Newick Tendrils grabbing the netting
This is the 50th post we have added to this blog, hence the celebratory image. As well as the blogs, we have sown and grown over 200 plants that have now gone to Serpentine and we have hopefully shared some of our knowledge and philosophy. We will now be moving from daily posts to once or twice a week and concentrating on keeping you informed of how the heritage seeds are progressing, the peas, dwarf and climbing french beans, tomatoes, achocha, lettuce, radish etc. We will of course continue to be available to the on site team to answer any queries arising from the plans we left for them which were entirely clear to us but not necessarily to anyone else! We are looking forward to a role that better matches the old gardeners' saying:
"I think it must be rather nice
To live by giving good advice
To talk of what the garden needs
Instead of pulling up the weeds."
"There'll be new dreams, maybe better dreams and plenty
Before the last revolving year is through.
And the seasons they go round and round...
We're captive on the carousel of time.
We can't return, we can only look behind
From where we came
And go round and round
In the circle game."
Words from "The Circle Game", Joni Mitchell 1966
Image from Winter Lights at Anglesey Abbey.
In previous blogs (24/3, 9/4) we covered propagating various succulents and promised to come back to doing the same to the Easter Cactus. Well, it is still spectacularly in flower so we will be deferring propagation for a while but here is an update on the other varieties.
The crassula have rooted well and are growing strongly; next stage will be to pot them up individually. We handed over a similar batch to Serpentine to be given away. The Zebra Haworthia have also taken well and one has even started to produce "offspring". We will leave them to grow, with minimal watering.
The kalanchoe have also established themselves well and are ready to be given away. The stapelia cuttings are a bit feeble and we have edited out a couple. We will see how the others get on and propagate more if necessary; the seedlings however are still growing, albeit very slowly. We will see how they do before potting them on. And finally, the bromeliads seem quite happy. We have just uncovered them and given them a water. Once the outside temperatures become more reliably warm most of the succulents will be given some fresh air (something we all need!)
The clay pipe bowl was found on the Serpentine site, lying on the surface. It shows the insignia of the 27th Inniskilling Regiment and is a type of pipe produced from 1750 to 1881 when the regiment was merged with another body. Given the dates of Serpentine Gardens, it is likely to be from the end of this period. The insignia includes Derry Castle, their garrison town.
The ice bucket is from one of the successor regiments, the Vth Inniskilling Dragoon Guards, a tank regiment in which my uncle served from drummer boy to Battalion Sergeant Major including service in the Battle of the Rhine, Korea, Germany and Northern Ireland. The bucket lists many of the regiment's actions from Blenheim, through Waterloo, the Boer War, the Indian Mutiny, both world wars and the Gulf and Iraq Wars. My mother's wartime work was at Bletchley Park, Station X as one of the 10,000 people working on code breaking. She was on the Pacific section and carried on to VJ Day.
Victory was vital, but the real desire was for Peace. We are not there yet.
Three pots of Tomato Cheetham's Potato Leaf, all sown at the same time but potted on at different dates. The plant in the largest pot has grown significantly since it was potted up. It will stay in that pot right through to harvest and is in a suitable richer compost mix. Being in a pot means we can bring it inside if adverse weather looms. The middle sized pot contains a plant only potted on earlier this week, but already it is starting to out pace the smaller one. This plant will be planted out in the garden bed once the weather is safe enough. The smallest pot was where we first pricked out the seedlings. The roots are now filling the pot and we will shortly be giving it away. Potting on delivers real benefits, but depends on having enough pots of a suitable size and the compost to fill them. We will be growing one of each of seven varieties in the large pots and planting out two of each variety.
We checked on the progress of the fruit bushes and trees today. The apple blossom is lovely and we have our fingers crossed that the forecast weekend frost is not too much for it. Everything else seems blooming with only the redcurrant bushes still to show blossom. The gooseberries are farthest ahead and showing fruitlets.
And another uplift - we saw our first swifts of the season.
Blackcurrant Loganberry Gooseberry
After last week's bluebells in Corbar, we took our daily walk to Cunningdale to see what was around. We found a couple of Green Hairstreak butterflies, our first orchids of the year, and an abundance of cowslips and wood anemones. An uplifting visit.
Although we didn't take part in Saturday's World Naked Gardening Day, Gil recalled that we have shared our last four gardens (Hitchin, Buxton, Sawtry and Buxton again) over many years with an unclothed Venus - a goddess of the garden.
John & Gil Boardman, Growers at Serpentine now keeping SCG things going and growing from home.