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‘New Kid on the Block!’ Abbot’s Hall Walled Garden April 2014

April 2014

New Kid on the Block!

April began with a new trainee in the garden – Francis!

Following his successful application for the ‘Skills for the Future’  Heritage Garden traineeship, Francis has joined the team at Abbot’s Hall Walled Garden for the next 12 months.

April is a busy time in the garden for plants and gardeners alike, and Francis has wasted no time – direct sowing rows of carrots, beetroot, salsify and scorzinera.

Last autumn we began preparing an asparagus bed, ridding it of any perennial weeds and adding lots of garden compost. This April we dug out 2 trenches 12” wide x 9” deep. In the bottom of these we mounded up the soil to form a ridge on which the 2-year-old asparagus plants can sit. These spider-like crowns are then placed at 18” intervals with their roots spread out and over the curved sides.  Patience is a must with asparagus as it may take up to four years for these plants to start cropping heavily, and cropping is confined to 6 weeks a year, but this delicious vegetable is worth waiting for.

We planted the last of our seed potatoes at the beginning of this month. Here, Jonathan plants Shetland Black, a Victorian second early variety with an intense purple, almost black skin.The tubers have yellow floury flesh with a distinctive purple ring, and after being in the ground a few weeks I have also realised that the foliage has a dark purple colour to it too!

As well as planting this month, pruning has been on the agenda, and more specifically stone fruit tree pruning. With Francis now in the garden, we began the task of fan training the nectarines, apricots, plums and cherries together. These pruning cuts may look brutal but in the long run will help control vigour, encourage fruiting and show how fruit trees can be trained in a given area and be both highly productive and ornamental.

Sadly April has not brought with it ‘showers’. Although the weather has been beautiful we could do with a quite a lot more precipitation on our recent plantings. This includes our recently planted ‘cutting border’. So far we have managed to plant some blocks of herbaceous perennials including Echinops, Verbena bonariensis, Aster ‘Little Carlow’, Crocosmia ‘Lucifer’, Nepeta ‘Six Hills Giant’ and Penstemons. Soon, we also hope to be planting out Dahlias, Nicotiana, Ammi majus, Scabiosa and Calendulas – in order to make a stunning display.


Lucy Skellorn

Heritage Garden trainee

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