“To plant a garden is to believe in tomorrow”
Audrey Hepburn

This couldn’t be more true and as we prepare for a very busy Autumn, which will include cutting back, composting, bringing inside and clearing many of the plants that have given us such pleasure this Summer. It’s comforting to know that there are already promising signs of new life and a new season flourishing within, what to many peoples eyes, could appear like a ‘dying’ garden at this time of year. The Camellia buds seen here below, are a perfect example of this encouraging and welcome sight. So don’t let anyone tell you gardening is not good for the soul, as well as the body!

If you want to lift your spirits and follow the theme of colour and creativity that Autumn brings, why not join us on a wonderful day here, working with all the abundant cuttings left over from the Summer borders. There are still a few spaces left on our, Making a Natural Garland course. You will be helped to make your own individual piece, purely out of natural materials from the garden, such as seed or flower heads, berries and branches in this truly creative and original day in December. If you click on the link it will take you straight through to more information and the booking form. The day will be lead by Ben our Head Gardener and this is an example of what we made last year.

At this time of year, when the light is often so sharp and strong, it can bring out the vividness of colour in both flowers and foliage. This is when plants appear to be putting on their last spectacular show, in a ‘come and look at me’ display!

So don’t try to view a border as if it is ‘over’, some great displays of Summer may be dying back for another year but there is so much more going on, despite their demise. Therefore we are going to focus on some of the wonderful structures and textures of Autumn borders. Here you can see from the following group of photographs, what incredible variety there is, if you just take a little time to scrutinise the space in front of your eyes.

Above is Kueringeshoma palmata, with it’s smooth and swirling petals of creamy yellow flowers, off set by the frilled edges of a large ‘hearts tongue’ fern, framed by the leaves of Wisteria. Nudging up to these two beauties, in front of the window, are the wonderfully rich and glossy green leaves of both Eriobotrya japonica and Pittosporum tobira. Added to this mix is a heavy sprinkling of willowy Nicotiana langsdorffii, (not seen) which add a haze of lime green flowers, dancing in the air above. All these plants light up a north facing border. On a damp and misty morning, the effect can be quite etherial and only adds to the charm of what could be a very dull space at this time of year!

We have really enjoyed all our nicotiana this season, so many exciting varieties that are excellent value, lasting a lot longer than their delicate frames might suggest, we love their lightness of being and flashes of colour as they get caught by the breeze.

As the weather turns cooler the dahlias are giving of their last but still have life and colour too. Each season it’s fun to explore the ever expanding, growers selection. They have made a real return here in The Old Rectory Gardens and been much admired, having a habit of offsetting other more delicate flower heads, with their intense depth of colour. Our favourites have included this Dahlia ‘Verrone’s Obsidian’.

For those of you, who have visited us this year, you might have enjoyed seeing our standard Lycianthes rantonnetii, dotted around the garden in tubs and within the border. They are synonymous with the garden and inspired our logo for the garden. It is not always appreciated, that all these small trees have to be dug up and put into the polytunnels over the winter. As we write this is being done in earnest before the light frosts really set in. They are being cut back and repotted in good quality compost, along with the lovely Polygala now with a spread of at least 4 feet wide this year…quite a challenge to repot, before we bring it out in the Spring! First to go inside however were our two large Tibouchina urvilleana.

 

These two South American princesses, are just in the middle of producing their hot and intense purple flowers, so a visit to the greenhouse is the only way to appreciate them now!

Looking ahead to next year, we are planning to bring back our favourite restaurant Nest to The Old Rectory Gardens for some more of their delicious and original food, cooked straight from our Potager, so watch this space!

To conclude, why not follow the wise words of Audrey Hepburn and believe in tomorrow….happy Autumn planning and purchasing, for all your own gardening plans for 2019. In the meantime, don’t forget to put your garden to bed and in our next Blog we will be focusing on just that, including advice on keeping Salvias in the ground over winter, splitting pot bound Agapanthus as well as other winter jobs around the garden!

If you would like to be the first to know about any pop-ups this winter and our 2019 events and openings in the Garden why not become a friend of the garden to be first to receive this information by signing up on our homepage . 

Dear Friends of the Garden, hello again and welcome back!

We can’t believe how the months have flown by and it’s been so busy that our Blog has been neglected. We are back in touch at last, to fill you in on what we have been up to here at The Old Rectory Gardens and invite you to share with us, the excitements and developments of the past few months and show how all the hard work over the winter was rewarded.

Weather: in hindsight we were lucky! Having all that heavy rain in the winter allowed our base, slightly clay soil, lying beneath the lighter, home produced mulch, to retain moisture for longer than might have been the case in a dryer climate. This gave new planting and the hungry roots of shrubs, a little extra help in the dryer late Spring and into early Summer.

Our Roses have again been loving the heat and dry, nurtured by good garlic feeds and washes and a little bit of effort on their part, in allowing their roots to search for that moisture below the surface, they have again given us a lovely display here. Fortunately, they were at their peak as The Historic Rose Society visited and everyone agreed we have a very fine collection of over 50 varieties of Roses!

Group visits have been extremely popular this year. These are very special days, when a group of minimum 15 max 50, book for a guided visit which includes either a delicious lunch, using produce in our Potager or locally Homemade cake, including Gluten free! Another new idea was to open twice a week this season and we have enjoyed welcoming lots of visitors and many new faces!

So what else has been happening?

On the gardening front, its been busy!! Mainly, we’ve concentrated on adding to our collection of more unusual plants or forms of. One of the most exciting things about the early Spring, is having the chance to visit our favourite Nurseries and tick off our, ‘shopping list’. This year we have really enjoyed admiring our, Cycas Cirinalis, (Queen Sago Palm), which only grows wild in southern India and our Albizia julibr. ‘Evey’s Pride’, a purple leaved form of silk tree. Watching them settle into their new surroundings. Both these plants are not hardy so will need to be taken in during the winter. Of course there was still a lot of, ‘behind the scenes’ work that sustained and frustrated us, through the harsh winter months. These projects included… drainage, irrigation, the beginnings of a new service path, restoring the steps in the woodland, work on the river bank, building a vast fruit cage in our working garden area, redesigning the Hot Border, Restorative Pruning, especially of our Wisteria, see the results below…

 

Finishing off the framework of the Twisted Hazel Garden and replanting the areas at the front of the house and working on restoring the steep bank there. Then from Spring onwards, we pricked out our 30,000 seedlings, comprising of flowers and vegetables, in order to save on costs but also to produce healthier or more unusual forms of both for the upcoming season!

 

‘Here are some of the fruits of our labours’

All this preceded the ‘main events’ of our busy Summer, which as we said has been hectic but fun and it wouldn’t have been possible to reap the success of these, had we not put in that effort last Winter. Events have included, a wonderful evening of Jazz on the main lawn for 250 people. We drank fabulous wines, especially Rose, Chateau Saint Baillon, provided by fine wine merchants, Goedhuis & Co and locally grown Stonyfield sparkling wine, produced in Northamptonshire, whose awards include Wine of the Year 2017 MVA Wine Challenge, accompanied by smoked salmon sandwiches in a perfectly still, young Summers evening under lanterns and stars.

This raised much needed funds for our superb local hospice, Lakelands Hospice, Corby, who are raising money for outreach nurses to treat patients in their own homes, what a great idea.

 

The main event however had to be our unique and exciting joint venture with the wonderful NEST. A group of super talented guys, who run a restaurant in Hackney, just voted 38/100 Best Restaurants in London! They decamped here for a week to cook an original and delicious 9 course, ‘taster menu’ from our garden produce. The weather was perfect and our lovely guests created a memorable atmosphere for this first time experiment, which we hope to put expand and recreate for next Summer!

Please see this short video to sample a piece of the action! We will be taking bookings after Christmas for 2019…

We’ll be writing again soon, meanwhile keep watching the website for more info on our upcoming course and events for this Autumn!

Cold, cold and more biting cold, ice and snow!

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Life in the garden never stands still, as every good gardener appreciates. However, the months leading up to Christmas can be a time for ‘taking the foot off the spade’ so to speak and to indulge in some creativity. Especially, leading up to the festivities of December. As this photo shows, we certainly didn’t hold back on the garland over the front door that ushered in the season of goodwill and cheer!

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As September arrived, the intensity of the colours in the borders has deepened, and they could almost be likened to some glorious head of hair, so lush and rich! They are heavy with green foliage and full on with vibrant colour.

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Our busiest months have passed by in a flash and we are now closed for a breathing space, until September. However, as all keen gardeners know, breathing spaces don’t happen often and we are treating this time to really begin to review the borders, both through planting and the execution of our development plans for the Autumn! Read more

Featured Image of Roses

Ascot week and what a ‘scorcher’ it has been here! Our poor roses didn’t know what to do with themselves as they prepared for their debut, subject to refreshment! So at the cooler times of the day, ie, 5.30am and late evening, we have been steadily moving the sprinklers and hosepipes around every bed and tending to their needs. Warm weather in early Spring, followed by the late, chilling frost and finally strong winds, have not helped in rehearsals! Luckily, like all true divas,  they ‘pulled it out of the bag’ when required and we have been rewarded with a magnificent ‘Show of Roses’.

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Hello and welcome to our newly designed website for The Old Rectory Gardens, which we hope you will use as a portal into all the daily and seasonal activities going on within it and join us on our garden’s journey in the years to come.
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