What a fantastic time I had at Hampton Court: two weeks working on the build of the garden, followed by a week working on the garden with some fantastic people, and then part of the breakdown afterwards. I have loads of photos and news to share, and will be blogging about it all soon, but after over three weeks away I need to get through piles of laundry, sort out my garden and catch up with some writing work that has to be done! I was working very long hours every day with no time off, so I am feeling rather tired but so happy to have had the Hampton Court adventure.
It is lovely to be home. The back garden growth is wonderful – I am harvesting peas, baby beetroot, salad, chard and potatoes – with only a little slug damage and some weeds, mostly grass sprouting through gaps in the card.
The orchard grass is really long, which has created a super habitat for slugs and snails, so along with the experimental mulches that I knew were a potential slug risk, the damage there is much worse. Liz Zorab tells me that the weather was a bit grim whilst I was away – when I was walking around Hampton Court in shorts and a t shirt, she was wearing layers of tops and thermal socks, so it’s not surprising that some of the plants look worse for wear.
This week I’m busy strimming* the grass to reduce habitat (great for the compost heaps!) and will be rescuing those beds. A few blackcurrant bushes have a small crop (they are small bushes) and the blueberries are about ready to protect from birds, so will do that once I have sorted the grass out here.
(* I know that scything is more eco-friendly, but due to my osteoarthritis I sadly find that too painful to do anymore, and left my scythe with Charles when I moved. My lightweight strimmer from Stihl is operated by a rechargeable battery. It lasts for 20 minutes before a recharge so I am doing this in instalments Of course I check long grass first to make sure no creatures are harmed.)
I have loved reconnecting with the lane beside my house, seeing what has emerged since I was last here. I’m happy that the elderflowers and meadowsweet are just starting to come into flower, perhaps they waited for me, so I’ll be harvesting those over the weekend. There’s a recipe for elderflower cordial here and some other elderflower recipes in this blog.
Photos from “my” hill
The fields are buzzing with grasshoppers and/or crickets (I can’t tell!), and the song of ground nesting birds. Yesterday we saw the woolliest sheep on the hill, most have been sheared now, and a swarm of bees. They were right up on the hill where there is little human habitation, close to the forest, so most likely are wild bees.
Today after gardening and some work, I’m heading out to deliver parcels of my books (thank you to everyone who has ordered from me) and heading to the beach. Over the next few days, sowing Florence fennel, endive, chicories, kohl rabi, herbs, Chinese cabbage, beetroot, kale, cabbage and climbing French beans to replace those that were munched by slugs.