This time last year we were battling the arctic conditions of the Beast from the East. In recent weeks the weather in the garden has been wonderful, and makes us feel like spring is already here, even though the calendar still says winter. Our greenhouse is bursting at the seams with seedlings, including antirrhinums for our plant sale, onions which we have grown from seed, sweet peas for planting in the garden, and much more besides. The seed potatoes are chitting so that they should be ready for planting after the middle of March.
The rhubarb forcers are already hard at work preparing early season rhubarb both for us, and for Caffi Florence, at Loggerheads near Mold, who we supply with fresh seasonal produce. It is very unusual, but quite exciting for us to be supplying fresh produce so early in the year.
Over the winter months Greg has been working away at new signage for our fruit trees (we have 112), which will help us, and visitors to our lovely garden, see just what a wide variety of fruit we grow. In particular, we hope the new signs will help us manage our apple harvest better, so that we know which apples we can pick and store (and for how long), and which ones need eating straight from the tree.
Another on-going project is the creation of more raised beds around the garden to provide more opportunities for less able adults to get involved with gardening. We are working with brick-laying students from the local college who are spending one day per week in the garden constructing long-lasting brick raised beds for us, as well as other much-needed brickwork renovation around the garden.
Thanks to a generous donation last year, we have been able to purchase some more climbing roses for the north-facing wall at the bottom of the west garden. The roses, a mix of dark red and peach, arrived in early January, and were planted by Emma. Hopefully we will have a fantastic display this summer, and the flowers will contribute to production of our dried flower confetti.
Our horticultural director Richard Lewis ran a pruning course in the garden, for 4 of our fantastic volunteers, so that over the next few years they can help us maintain healthy and productive, fruit trees.
Our annual series of events and open days is expanding again this year; in addition to the Summer and winter fayres, we are adding a late night shopping evening to our plant sale in April, which will allow more people to access us after work. We are also opening twice this year under the National Garden Scheme, in May and September. Crikey! 2019 is going to be a really busy year.