Spring is finally here in the Wiston Lodge Garden

In common with gardeners, growers and farmers all over the UK , Daniel and I  have certainly found it a challenging few months!

While our first winter in the garden 2022/3 was marked by long periods of extreme cold, this winter and early part of spring has sometimes seemed to be one endless storm! In addition to the constant strong winds, the incessant rain  left  our clay ground frequently resembling  part paddling pool, part mud-bath. As Easter came and went and temperatures also remained low,  the chances of getting significant numbers of plants in the ground still seemed a remote possibility.

Our  historic though rather dilapidated Mackenzie and Moncur greenhouse also suffered greatly during the January storms;  the original roof glazing of course went many years ago, replaced by a polythene cover (regularly patched up by friends and neighbours Clare and Jerome during the years the garden was moribund), which was finally completely ripped away.

Although this left us with less space for growing things such as tomatoes etc. the space is still useable for other crops and we hope eventually to be able to undertake more comprehensive repairs to the structure and maybe one day, fairy godmothers willing, a full restoration .

Early Maris Bard potatoes

Despite this setback, the polytunnel erected last summer was packed with trays of seedlings waiting to go out as soon as warmer weather arrived, and we also took the opportunity at the beginning of March to plant some potatoes in the polytunnel while the ground outside remained resolutely cold and saturated. Snug inside the tunnel and under several inches of mulch these have thrived and we expect to start  lifting  them in a few weeks time.  Also in the tunnel is the last of our over-wintered cavolo nero and spinach beet which we are harvesting now to be transformed into something delicious in Wiston Lodge’s kitchen.

In April neighbours Kirsty and Peter generously donated their old polytunnel, effectively doubling our covered space. Over the last few weeks Daniel and I have managed to get the tunnel dismantled, moved, repaired and re-erected on our site ready for our tomatoes and cucumbers this summer.

Thankfully the weather has now changed for the better, so we’ve had a very busy time planting out our many young plants and sowing crops, including  the rest of our potatoes as well as peas, leeks, beetroot and salad crops.

And yes, we complained loud and long about the cold and the wet but one happy consequence of the late Spring is that the fruit blossom is absolutely fantastic this year.

Our apple trees have been completely smothered in flowers as were our many blackcurrant bushes – fingers crossed for a bumper crop!

Simon – Gardener