Despite the dank dreary weather making the the thought of gardening decidedly unappealing the volunteers were undeterred and turned up in force to tackle whatever wet and muddy task I had in store for them. And this week we decided to make a start on renovating the little garden at the back of the farmhouse. This is a delightful, cottage style garden and was always looked after and loved while we had a live in custodian on site. There were roses and hydrangeas, raspberries, strawberries and a wonderful hardy fuchsia spilling out of a pot in the middle of the garden. But sadly, since the last residents moved out, it has been rather neglected and was desperate for some TLC.
Barbara set to clearing the borders and scraping moss and weeds off the flagstones, while Erica clipped back the hedge and pulled out brambles.
By the afternoon the rain was set in for the day but Jane coped valiantly, uncovering a narrow stone pathway leading to the back of the garden.
Nellie came along to and did her bit as chief sniffer dog and you can just see Andy keeping out of the shot behind a rose bush.
The garden ended up looking smarter than we did in our mud splattered clothes and filthy boots but we had that great feeling of satisfaction that comes from getting stuck in to a task really needing doing and where you can really see the difference.
I bet you didn’t realise gardening could be this much fun! If you are crazy enough to join us we are always looking for new volunteers. Contact us for more details if you are interested.
The ground was far too soggy for the community garden volunteers to venture out but they busied themselves constructing cold-frames ready for the start of seed sowing in a few weeks time.
Following our principles of recycle, reuse, renew these frames have been made out of old fencing rails and the polythene was donated. With just a few screws and some baton and the expertise of Bob and Paul they were made in a jiffy and are a real bargain.
Now we just need something to put in them!
The community garden volunteers meet every Tuesday starting about 10.00am. There is always something to do and tasks to suit all interests and abilities. Why not come and join us if you have a few spare hours a week? Contact us for more details.
Plant of the week
Houseleek (Sempervivum tectorum)
I just thought these sempervivums looked wonderful with their frosty tips and exquisite symmetrical rosettes.
The houseleek is a member of the Crassulaceae family, one of 49 species originating in mountainous Europe and Asia. It has some intriguing common names, including Devil’s Beard and Welcome Home Husband Be It Never So Late. The literal translation of the botanic name is ‘always grow on the roof’ and its Irish name, Buachaill a’ tighe, means ‘warden of the house’.
This plant grows in our medicinal border and was once believed to have at least sixteen medical uses including healing sore eyes with the juice from the fleshy leaves and curing corns, warts and ringworm.
It is perhaps best known for its reputation in protecting against thunder, lightening and pestilence for which purpose the first Holy Roman Emperor, Charlemagne (768-814) ordered them to be grown on the roofs of every home and estate in the Empire. Closer to home, it was a tradition for the builder of a new house in Kent to plant some on the roof before the owners moved in.
Houseleeks are easy plants to grow. They tolerate hot, dry conditions and need very little feeding. Pot them into gritty compost, preferably one containing loam. The leaves often change colour with season, rainfall and nutrition and some varieties have intense red tips to the leaves. A fascinating range of these plants are available including those which develop a covering of fine hairs, giving the curious impression of a cobweb. Most increase in size by producing many baby rosettes and they grow together happily to form handsome clumps.
They are ideal grown in troughs and containers, making a lovely feature if several terracotta pots are grouped together.
Look out for our Cressing grown houseleeks for sale on our plant table later in the year.