To celebrate our 17th century Gardens’ new ‘Auricula Theatre’ feature we are holding a day with specialist growers HillView Hardy Plants. On Easter Bank Holiday Monday, the nursery people from HillView will answer questions, give advice about growing, and of course sell you some of their lovely range of plants, which will be at their height around this time. The Primula auricula is usually known as auricula, or by the folk names of mountain cowslip or bear’s ear. The upright stalks and colourful headed flowers were popular, and coveted, from the early 17th century. Rare beauties were so prized that they were sometimes presented to a seated and expectant audience, appearing from behind a curtain, with many ‘oohs and ahhs’. As growers became ‘enthusiasts’, this approach led to the practice of displaying the plants on layered shelving or within a framed arch – just like a theatre. Some ‘ auricula theatres’ were modest others, frankly, ostentatious. As a 17th/18th century Garden, there would undoubtedly have been auriculas grown here. In the Music Room this summer we are displaying a reproduction of a flower painting (from around 1712, by Dutch painter Jan van Huysum). We already grow most of the flowers that appear in his picture … but not auricula. So… Our, modest but authentic, Auricula Theatre will complement the season of mini-flower exhibits reflecting the picture in the Music Room. Come along on Easter Bank Holiday Monday to find out more. Part of our #GrowtheGardens fundraising this year.
Fresh as fresh as fresh… Our harvest apple celebration is fast approaching. It’s been positively Isaac-Newton-like here with apples from our heritage orchard plopping, heavy and ripe, to the ground. This year, as well as all the lovely entertainment, displays and activities, we want to invite visitors to get some really fresh tastes from our,and their own, gardens. You can have a go at crushing an apple and tasting the juice it makes. Which is your favourite? We’ll have up to 6 different varieties to choose from. We bet you have never tasted anything like it from the supermarket. Some of this year’s harvest from our two heritage orchards has already been bottled for you to buy – stock up ready for mulled apple juice at Christmas.
Urban harvestIs there an apple tree in your garden or on a piece of public common land nearby? Why not harvest some and bring along a bag to juice here? If you bring along a clean jug or plastic bottle you can take it home to drink later that day. (don’t forget to leave some on the tree for the birds).
Underground potatoes …Yes, its true. Potatoes grow underground, in the dark. Don’t believe us? Come along on Sunday 16th, borrow a fork and dig up some of ours… and hey, you can even take them home and bake them for tea (£1 a large bag).
Green is the colour of plenty. Our vast veg plot – the Batty Langley garden – has been really well tended this year and all the hard work is paying off. This year’s newly planted Globe Artichokes are fattening up, the Courgettes and Squashes are plump green and growing gold (could be another good Pumpkin year), the first early Potatoes are lifted and the maincrop are coming soon. The Runner Beans and the yummy Dwarf French Beans are being harvested and will be on sale in the shop over the next couple of weeks. The Leeks and Cabbages are coming on, but the Cardoons and Jerusalem artichokes have a way to go yet. This year we have started planting the site with some older, period varieties and – to save our volunteers from overdoing it – concentrating on veg. that produces good ground cover… hey, we have 10 acres of weeding and trimming to do – some shortcuts are worth it! Unfortunately the heady fragrance of the sweet peas are now finished, but I just love the multitude of tasty greenness in this area. Make sure these lovely crops don’t go to waste; they are all affordable and super fresh from our shop – (free entry to the shop).