Scrumping and scarifying

20 September 2017

It does look as if we have had a bumper crop of fruit in the orchard this summer. Plums, especially the Victoria’s and Damsons, were very heavy and there are much better crops of pears compared to last year. The excesses have aroused the attentions of some unwelcome visitors who have been scrumping on a grand scale, or that is the conclusion I would come to looking at the deposits left behind them. At the time of writing we are not 100% certain if the culprits are badgers or foxes, but we have our money on the later. A camera has been set-up beside the pet’s cemetery to see if we can catch the culprits on film.

There seems to be two potential points of entry: the most likely is where the steps go up into the top terrace where it is possible to get to the top step then hop up and over the side wall (if my wee dog can do it then I am sure a fox could). It also seems that they may also be coming up the bank at the stables end and making an athletic leap for the top of the wall as the scratch marks there suggest. As a precaution, we have now put up some temporary barriers to see if we can stop them until we have picked most of the fruit.

Last year we ended up giving quite a lot of apples to people we thought could use them, however this year there seems to be a few people coming forward to do things with them. Firstly, some will go down to Bowhouse Food Weekend to be sold by Greens of Crail and there should also be some there as chutney. Any excess that we have, after we have put a good selection into storage for Toby, is likely to be distilled by Tayspirits.

In the ornamental gardens, there is no shortage of colour even though there is a very autumnal feel to the weather, in the parterre particularly, some of the beds are looking better than ever, the air-themed bed especially. The earth border also is looking very full I have never seen chocolate cosmos grow as big.

Elsewhere in the gardens we have Luma apiculate now showing off both of its appealing features; its late white flowers and its cinnamon and white peeling bark, which was revealed by pruning off a proportion of its lower branches a couple of months back. This is situated on the middle terrace and is definitely set to stay.

In front of Toby’s house is a newly planted type of Vipers bugloss from Madiera. Echium candicans is a bush form with electric blue flowers rather than the other tall type that we have also planted near the house – it gets covered in red admiral butterflies.

One of our main tasks for this month is scarifying of the lawns to remove thatch and moss, this is mainly the responsibility of our lawns specialist Gavin. Before the end of the month we will have been round all of the lawns – usually in several directions up and down, side to side and often diagonally as well to get out as much as possible. By the time Gavin has finished all his treatments for aerating and feeding he aims to have all our lawns up to putting-green standard by next summer.

Well I am off now for a bit of inspiration. A couple of weeks in Cape Verde, where they have a very nice little botanic garden, and I will leave the gardens in the safe hands of Lesley and Gavin.

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