Monday, 19 May 2014

Springing into action ...

Dandelions have had a bumper year this year, and the orangery field was first filled with their yellow suns and is now a riot of their fluffy pompoms of seed.

The grounds around Gibside are full of activity and you're sure to see members of our gardening team in their bright red shirts helping to keep on top of the burgeoning plant life.

There's always going to be grass to be mown and our volunteers are hard at work making sure that it's looking at its best. Outside the walled garden, along the shrubbery slip, is an area of close mown grass and meadow. John Watson helps to keep this area looking fantastic giving definition to the beds and borders and allowing the meadow to thrive with wild flowers.

We've been saving up our grass cuttings for the ranger team to use for making grass snake habitats. Otherwise, the cuttings gets taken to our large compost heaps to help heat them up and add nitrogen.

There's a lot more grass in the walled garden now and keeping on top of it is a full-time job. Time for Peter to break out the John Deere ride-on mower to get those large areas cut down to size and keep the grass the perfect length for visiting picnickers.

Meanwhile, in the vegetable plots, sowing and transplanting carries on apace. Helen, one of our plot holders and volunteers, is busy transplanting sunflowers which will look fantastic along the edge of the plot in late summer.
Bruce is also busy planting parsnips.

We also have some plots for flowers, and Maureen is sowing cornflowers, clary sage and poppies that will produce a lovely cottage garden feel to this bed over the summer.

Judith and Chris have been helping to stake up the perennials in our herbaceous border too. We use branches and sticks gathered by our ranger team, and weave them into supports that will help to keep our border looking fantastic as the plants get taller. Beech is one of the best trees for this, as its branches are whippy and easily bend and hold together ... the supports look striking, but are also natural, and in no time at all they'll be covered by more foliage.

But it's not all work, work, work in the garden: Barbara and Maureen take time out to relax from their productive day with tea and chocolates ... yum!