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In the garden this month

September 2018

In September, we take a breath and start to reflect over the summer months. It has been a productive season at Fulham Palace this year. We loved and loathed the heatwave in equal measures. Sun and heat loving crops such as tomatoes, cut flowers, herbs, squashes and potatoes have done really well and yet watering the gardens was exhausting and never ending.

The soil here at Fulham Palace is very well drained being river terrace gravel and so mulching and incorporating organic matter in the form of our home-made compost, leaf mould or rotted wood chip is essential to help retain soil moisture. In 2012, we carried out an archaeological dig in the Walled Garden – looking specifically for garden archaeology. Here we found a row of tree pits in a line parallel with one of our cross paths. The gardeners had filled the holes in with clay soil making them obvious – this would have been how they tried to combat the free draining soil we still have today. During the summer, the Main Lawn was bleached and parched for longer than I have known in the 7 years I have worked here but after just a few days of rain, it is back to its usual green, green grass – such a clever plant.

We continually learn from our experiences, take note of the flower, and produce varieties we like and sowing times to try to perfect our yield. Runner and climbing beans are now doing well, earlier on in the season the aphids were uncontrollable (we do not spray them but just try to blast them off with water or rub off with a gloved hand). We also have a marvellous crop of carrots, peas and beetroot. The brassicas are looking beautifully healthy and we have some wonderful pumpkins and squash for our autumn display.

All the crops have been grown and tended to by our three Garden Apprentices. They are each allocated a third of the vegetable garden to look after which might either be legumes and other crops, brassicas and the children’s Little Green Fingers bed or roots. The Apprentices are then responsible for direct sowing successions, thinning, watering, weeding and harvesting. Amongst the beetroots, carrots, turnips, radishes, beans, cabbages, lettuces, kale (and not to mention over 15 varieties of potatoes), there are flowers for cutting, annuals and perennials and sunflowers to keep the beds looking colourful. The Apprentices help each other and get to work on all the beds so get an understanding of all the crops. Garden Volunteers help harvest the crops for selling on our Barrow situated in the Walled Garden. They also help keep the garden edged and weed free.

This month we will be entering into the Fulham Horticultural Society’s (FHS) autumn show. We have records from the 1860s and 1870s of former Fulham Palace Head Gardeners exhibiting Fulham Palace produce and so it is certainly not a new thing. It is a lot of fun and exciting to find out whether you have won anything.

 

Outside the Walled Garden, we have been working on our restoration project, landscaping the new botanical beds. The path will be open to the public to use by the autumn. The botanical Bishop Compton plants will be planted this winter (as this is the best time to plant field grown trees and shrubs). Much research has gone into working out which species were grown here at Fulham Palace, back in the late 17th century and then there has been the challenge to source actual plants themselves, but all is on track. Since the path works, we have been concentrating on the soft landscaping, shaping the beds, weeding and clearing scrub and pernicious weeds. Now the intense heatwave and drought have passed, both sides of the path are being sown to create grass verges. The path is still very new but it is the same material (breedon gravel) as the rest of our paths in the garden and so will weather down over time.

Lucy Hart

Head Gardener

In the garden this month
In the garden this month
In the garden this month
In the garden this month
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