Visit to RHS HQ

Friday had me off to London for a trip to RHS HQ at Vincent Square. Had a fascinating chat with a few people which I can’t say too much about, but really got me thinking about various things in terms of what a charity representing gardening and gardeners could achieve in the months and years ahead.

Then of course it really shouldn’t be too long before I hear if my cosmos may be heading to Hampton court in 2022.

More autumn jobs

Whilst gardening shows on TV end in Autumn time I sometimes feel there is as much if not more to do at this time of year. I finally had a bit of time to build three big compost bays using some metal roofing sheets that have been laying around for the last couple of years. There is already a serious amount of collected leaves from the plot here – with many more to come.

Then I have finally got a move on and started to complete the second phase of our raised bed area. It involves me shovelling a lot of limestone before the beds go in situ and then finishing with some pea gravel. This should keep me busy for the next couple of months, as I try to fit in in between other things that need to be done.

And finally, along with trimming all the willow and turning it into woodchip which will turn into compost, I will finish a new heated propagation bed, as last years one I built really helped with the cosmos.

I found it helpful more so just to keep away the dangers of late frosts after sowing. A 72ft cable to go in, which will be topped off with more sand. Underneath is the black polythene so water can be added and under that sheets of insulation.

Sustainability

RHS is pushing their recently published sustainability report again today https://www.rhs.org.uk/about-the-rhs/sustainability. I think its very much worth a read.

For me its all about a journey. Anyone preaching being totally virtuous is either saintly (or dare I say telling a porkie pie). I think some people are further along with their journey than others, and rather than being berated about environmentalism (which often happens) we should be far more encouraging.

And of course an admission we aren’t perfect. The one I will struggle with on the 10 suggestions they have is petrol tools. A 2 acre plot means battery mowers (for example) just arent that practical yet… and the same with other equipment. Of course if money was no object it would be… but as with everything sometimes its a balance.

But defiinitely worth a read for those interested in this sort of stuff 👇🏻

My musings on sowing hollyhock seeds

Lots of people ask me when to sow hollyhock sees. As is the case with other plants – sometimes the choice has to be yours. So I sow sweet peas in October and over winter them. Other people choose to sow the year of flowering. I think sweet peas that have over wintered and experienced cold nights are stronger plants – but as with much you read online, this is just an opinion. What most people fail to add is four magic words for the social media age – I could be wrong.

In terms of hollyhock I sow many of mine in Sept/Oct so they germinate and then can overwinter in my polytunnel.

What do I suggest others do. Well it all depends on your circumstances really. I often get told that as nature is dispersing its seeds of hollyhocks now, why wouldn’t it be a good time to sow outside. Well my response if that if you take one plant for example. Ive taken over 2000 seeds off one in particular I want to propagate. It produces so many seeds as if left to the natural environment – with the vagaries of weather, pests, slugs having a munch etc – not many will make it to next year out of those seeds. That why we propagate and put things under cover etc – to get a higher success rate.

So I wouldn’t be sowing direct outside unless you were happy for many not to make it. If you are happy with this – then of course you can broadcast sow now.

If you are sowing undercover and can protect the young plants then sow now.

And then of course you can sow next year – though the issue of sowing next year is you are less likely to get flowers. A sowing of hollyhocks now means that you have a good chance of flowers within a 12 month period over two calendar years.

Hope this makes some sense. Ask in the comments if there is anything that doesn’t. This is just how I do it. Others may have different techniques that work for their garden and climate👍🏻

Finding out about my plot

Truly fascinating chat with the lady who first lived at our house (whose dad built it right after the war). For those who missed my post of yesterday – she got in touch following an article on my Cosmos national collection – as was amazed by the coincidence as this was her mums favourite flower.

Today she visited. We always said that we could tell that at some point there had been a gardener here down to some of teh things that had been done (even if it had been overgrown when we got it).

So on top of the plot being 2.5 acres by all accounts we learned that it had been used to host pigs (hence my old pig sheds) 100s of chickens for years, but they also grew spuds, wheat and then even horseradish on 1 acres of it.

The Poplars for which the house is now called were planted by her mum and are at least 70 years old (as were the conifers we had to take out) though they were maintained, We know it was called Little Home originally and now know why. The village apparently had a very big, shall we say, them and us aspect with those of money and those who worked for money. Apparently the wife of the local squire said to her mum…. “Oh you will love your Little Home” and it stuck.

When her mum sold she gave up 2.5 aces for 0.5 acres – and the first thing she did was dig all teh grass up for veg as “you cant eat grass”. I have to say I like her style.

Much more was discussed in terms of gardening, but I sent we sent her on her way with cosmos and hollyhock seeds that who knows – may have done so well due to those chickens she had to clean out for years constantly pooping everywhere on what is definitely fertile Lincolnshire soil.

The nicest compliment was that she thought her mum and dad would love what I was doing. 🌸🌺🌸🌺

UPDATE: Joans brother from Canada emailed and paid me the nicest compliment,

“Thank you for the Email and after talking to Joan about her visit with you and seeing the things you are doing I’m sure our Mum will be looking down with a smile on her face to see something constructive going on with our old house.”