Inspired by Wellywoman’s Golden Welly awards, I thought I’d have a look back over the year and round-up some of my favourite horticultural experiences. So in no particular order (other than what first pops into my head)…..
On the third weekend every June, usually hidden Canal Gardens in Amsterdam are open to the public, so I popped over to Holland with fellow blogger Veronica (you can just see her there in the background) to have a look. (In 2013 Open Canal gardens are 14-16 June ).I have to admit, the omnipresent box parterres were slightly overwhelming by the end of the weekend, but I loved the giant curvaceous sculptural box forms in this garden at Kerkstraat 67.
Impeccably maintained, this garden was the most inspirational by far out of the 25 gardens or so that we packed in over the two days.
I haven’t been to Amsterdam for years, and I’d forgotten what a fantastic place it is just to hang out. And maybe the real horticultural treat for me over the weekend was not so much the canal gardens (although some were stunning), but the great planting that you see in the streets throughout this beautiful city.
At every turn, pots were bursting with blooms,
and roses adorned all manner of objects, seemingly springing out of deep concrete. Amazing!
To complete our horticulturally themed weekend, we dined at De Kas restaurant, a short tram ride just outside the city centre. It’s a fabulous spot. Vegetable beds surround an enormous revamped municipal greenhouse and dining in this open airy structure added to the joy of eating their delicious meals, where fresh produce from the gardens is used as much as possible.
Back in Blighty, I know it wasn’t a great year for tomatoes, but Black Krim, a beefsteak variety which I’d tasted the previous summer at Victoriana Nurseries , was another curvaceous delight. It looks wild and tastes great. Really meaty and rich. I’m definitely growing these again next year.
Another edible success was growing potatoes on top of grass. Following my visit to Charles Dowding’s ‘no dig’ farm, I experimented with a few Charlotte potatoes in April, planting directly on top of fresh grass and covering with about 6 inches of recycled municipal compost.
I earthed up the potatoes once and was rewarded with a very healthy 15lbs worth of potatoes come August.
This no dig method worked equally well with some gorgeous heritage varieties too (Arran Victory above), this time planted on top of soil at my allotment, again, with absolutely no digging. Not all of my experiments work out, but this one was a huge success and I’ll be using this ‘no dig’ method for any potatoes grown in the future and I look forward to trying it out for other root veg too in the new year.
And last, but by no means least, was the very enjoyable herb course at Judith Hann’s garden in Oxfordshire. After the course I felt truly inspired to get planting and cooking with a whole heap of herbs which I’d never grown before.
Lovage (bottom right), Sweet Cicely (top left), buckler leaf Sorrel (top right)
and Tarragon (above) are now firm favourites and I’m really looking forward to harvesting from herbs planted this summer come 2013.
I know it’s been another strange growing year, but despite the odd disappointment (leeks,.. squash), I’ve loved trying out new growing methods, different varieties of veg and learning more from enthusiastic and knowledgable gardeners. And I’ve gathered loads more ideas that I want to put into practice next year (fruit tree training thanks to Paul Templeton). It will be great to hang up my gardening boots for a couple of weeks over Christmas, (and start reading my tempting stash of gardening books), but I know I’ll be more than ready to get experimenting again come the new year.