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There was an interesting programme this week about the ‘economics of gardening’. Sounds dull but there were some incredible facts in there, including the fact that the 18th century landscape designer Capability Brown earned the equivalent of £150 million in today’s money, billing his clients millions of pounds and in the 18th and 19th centuries people often paid upwards of £1000 for a single plant. We do have quite a gardening obsessed heritage – and that is not taking account of the 99% of ordinary people who grew most of their own vegetables for hundreds of years, right up to the 1950s. For me, one of the most astonishing statistics was that in 2020, 50% of people in the UK describe themselves as gardeners who spend at least half an hour gardening every week. That is a lot of gardening going on across the nation, and even in Norfolk! There is certainly nothing like it (in our humble opinion) for blowing away the cobwebs and lifting the spirits. Even at this time of year there are signs of new life in the garden. Bulbs pushing up amongst dead leaves, the odd clump of early snowdrops, new growth at the base of some perennials and even some confused rose buds and other unseasonal flowers.
There have been a few drier days over the past couple of weeks and it has been great to get outside and do some jobs. We have begun a new shrub border in the Walled Garden. Eventually it will be a crescent shaped bed with some evergreens and beech at the back providing year-round structure and colour, and a variety of shrubs in front with underplanting. We don’t have all of the shrubs ready to plant yet, so instead of lifting all of the turf at once (creating the need for lots of weeding over the months to come) we have cut squares at intervals for the plants we do have. So far, we have a lovely yellow Salix, three different Cornus, a variegated Viburnum tinus and a variegated Ilex. We moved some clumps of snowdrops from a shady corner and have planted them under the shrubs. We plan to add lots more bulbs as well as Cyclamen hederifolium, Ophiopogon and hellebores as underplanting. There will be year-round interest, but this border will really come into its own in the winter months.
Upcoming courses with availability:
Renovation Pruning 28th January
Intoduction to Veg Growing 31st January
The Cutting Garden 4th February
Border Renovation 7th February
Caring for Fruit Trees 11th February
Lawn Care & Maintenance 14th February
Certificate in Practical Horticulture (10 Week Course) register interest for April & September
Plant of the Week
Winter flowering jasmine is a common sight in British gardens at this time of year, precisely because it is one of the few plants which flowers in winter. The bright yellow flowers appear on naked stems (hence the name nudiflorum), before the leaves appear. This is a hardy shrub and unlike other jasmines this one does not twine, so if it is grown vertically it needs tying in. Originally from China, Jasminum nudiflorum can also be left to scramble over a low wall or even used as ground cover.