JUL/AUG 2017 MUSINGS by Maz
Gardening Volunteer at Tatton Park Walled Kitchen Garden, Knutsford, Cheshire.
The two herds of Deer (Fallow and Red) have been relocated from their usual ‘meadow’ to further into the Parkland because the preparation and build is taking place for the annual RHS Flower Show, which first came to Tatton in 1999.
Another week, another wet day, and another four buckets of pear rust-affected leaves were again gathered from the espalier and freestanding Pear trees in the Orchard. [Pear Rust – Gymnosporangium sabinae] & [Pear Scab –dark blotches on leaves – Venturia pyrina]. Pear Rust overwinters on Junipers.
The rest of the Team gamely planted, thinned, gathered, weeded and hoed.
Another week, another glorious day, and only two buckets of pear rust-affected leaves gathered – I think we are winning.
The RHS Flower Show preview day is on today (Tuesday) for the Press and of course judging and perhaps filming. Members’ Day is tomorrow (Wednesday) but the forecast for the next few days is damp – which will presumably help the floral displays keep fresh if not the visitors. Plant sell-off is on Sunday afternoon. The Tatton Garden Team made a representation of the historic Hornbeam Maze in the Formal Gardens as a non-judged exhibit at the Show.
Another sunny day; the Show is over for another year and the huge task of ‘breaking down’ the show and back-to-back gardens, marquees and other infrastructure begins. After all is cleared away the showground will be restored back to grassy parkland for the Deer to reclaim. There was an Indian wedding being held in the Mansion’s Tenants’ Hall, and the Bhangra dance music could be heard in the Gardens, drowning out the Carousel in the Stable Yard, which has played the same tunes in the school holidays as it has done for the past sixteen years. Presumably new punched music cards are hard to come by now.
Gathering of Broad beans, potatoes, herbs and lettuce for the restaurant and cottage cafe; sowings of cabbage, it is all go in the Kitchen Garden.
The Deer are now back on the grassland where the Showground was, and enjoying playing ‘king of the castle’ on the mounts of top dressing to be used to repair the area.
August and at last OH and I have been given the go-ahead to summer prune the Pear espaliers. Sadly we had to prune off eight large barrowloads of wasted energy, the trees growing wood rather than fruit after many fruit spurs were removed by a member of staff in early Spring. The consequence is there is very little fruit and crows and insects have ruined most. Personally I would prefer to gently prune every 30 days starting in mid June, July and August to ‘discourage’ the espaliers from making wood and persuading them to concentrate on growing fruit. Then in the Autumn (Sept/Oct) remedial and/or formative pruning (ie spur thinning could be undertaken if necessary as no further wood growth would take place that year. I suppose this is a modern take on M. Louis Lorette’s method of doing much the same thing but his method was much more stringent and controlling. (Winter pruning is for wood growth in Spring).
In the wild flower meadow (where the raspberries used to be) there has been an invasion of deadly nightshade, horsetail, sow thistle, bindweed and other undesirables, overwhelming the wild flowers. These nasties were not in the wild flower mix, so must have been dormant in the soil until the area was deeply ploughed and rotavated and they took their chance of attempting global domination. Methinks there is a lot to be said for the method of top dressing if needed and disturbing the soil as little as possible, following Nature’s pattern.
The fan-trained (against the walls) stone fruit, eg plums, gages, cherries are in full fecundity this year and even the thieving grey squirrels are overwhelmed by the bounty they have provided; the weather this year has suited them.
Sunny Bank Holiday week. Picked up four barrowloads of apple windfalls. There was evidence of a seasonal fruit pest, aka junior homo sapiens, judging by the number of apple cores also picked up. ☺