The owners of Lewis Cottage are busy preparing to open their delightful garden to the public this weekend (29, 30 and 31 May) as part of the National Garden Scheme. The garden will open again on 27 and 28 June and, after a disappointing year when they couldn’t open at all, they are hoping to welcome back their regular visitors as well as plenty of new ones. But it is not just human visitors they are welcoming this year at Lewis Cottage, as Richard Orton reports.
Welcome back! Never have two words summed up so succinctly the feelings of National Garden Scheme members who open their gardens each year in aid of all the nursing charities that the NGS support. After a terrible 2020, members around the county are busy getting their gardens ready for what they hope will be a bumper year, particularly as the summer progresses and restrictions are finally lifted.
Some smaller visitors
Recently we were delighted to welcome some much smaller but no less important visitors at Lewis Cottage. We have long wanted to give a home to some bees and thanks to Dave the bee man (as we shall now call him) we have a colony of British and Danish bees. They arrived in a very contemporary looking polystyrene ‘hive’ and stayed there until they got used to their new surroundings. Then a week or so later they transferred to their hive proper. Already they are becoming quite the excuse to time waste, watching them adjust to their new surroundings.
A very strange year for seeds
In other gardening news, has anyone else noticed how the recent cold snap brought almost everything to a halt? At the back end of March the cannas and dahlias put on enormous growth but they don’t seem to have grown another inch since, and don’t get me started on my seeds. We always wait until at least the end of March before sowing and we usually do very well, with most seeds germinating within two weeks. This year it has been sporadic at best, my initial excitement dashed by the revelation that many of the ‘seedlings’ were in fact weeds in the seed compost! I’m sure they will all come right in the end but it has been a very strange year indeed so far.
That said, the vegetable seed sown outdoors in a dedicated seed bed have done really well with just a cold frame style perspex cover for protection. It just goes to show that we need to celebrate our successes and move quickly on from our failures. Thankfully I have spare seed set aside just in case the first sowings don’t germinate at all.
So don’t forget to book your tickets for your garden visit. You can do so using this link or if we’re sold out, come along anyway and we’ll safely fit you in. Will a visit change your life? – possibly not; will you consume too much tea and cake – most probably; will you buy too many plants? – definitely!
And don’t forget we’re dog and child friendly too.
Gardening tips for June
- Check that you have greenhouse shading available to prevent it overheating.
- Increase your stock of snowdrops and bluebells by lifting and splitting established clumps.
- Cut back hardy geraniums at the end of the month to get another show towards the end of the summer.
- Stake tall and floppy perennials before they get too big.
- Start pinching out side shoots on tomato plants.
- Sew salad crops every 2 weeks so you have a succession of harvests.
- Use rain water for pot grown blueberries as lime in tap water reduces the soil acidity over time.
- Keep your eyes peeled for vine weevil, scarlet lily beetle, aphids and white fly and treat accordingly.
- Keep your bird baths topped up with water.
Further information about the Lewis Cottage Garden can be found here.