After the Christmas holidays everyone returned to the garden refreshed and ready for the year ahead. We were hoping for a quieter, more relaxing time in January …..how wrong could we be! All the routine maintenance tasks were carried out in the garden; greenhouses washed down, pots cleaned and tidied away in preparation for the growing session ahead. We wanted to boost the soil nutrition in our new raised beds, and Victoria came up with an idea and suggested seaweed. After an email to South Ayrshire Council for permission and a quick look at the tide times, we were off to the beach with shovels and bags. The seaweed that we collected was from the middle of the beach. You must never harvest from the sea, instead you are looking for the fresh stuff that has been washed up onto the shore. It is best to avoid the older, dried out seaweed, as the salt content is too high. If it has to be used then it must be rinsed off with fresh water first!
Seed sowing has recommenced with the first of the donated seed from Franchi Seeds being sown. They have a WW1 range and 15% of all proceeds go to GL! This month we have sown tomatoes and aubergines from the range, these have been sown and labelled appropriately and put into our propagator, and we wait in hope. We also received a very kind donation of exhibition leeks and onion transplants. They were very carefully transported from Finchale College by our very own Jimmy Church (GL veteran). Jimmy is currently completing his City and Guilds in Horticulture at the college and thought we would enjoy the challenge of growing these transplants to exhibition standard for entry at this year’s Ayr Flower Show.
We would like to introduce another garden volunteer into the band of GL. Her name is Hilary and she is currently studying horticulture with the RHS. Her designation is horticultural advisor for the Ayr and Glasgow site. Her role will be to advise and assist the HT staff at each of these sites with technical issues. After being briefed on a task at Auchincruive, she was off like a hare to design both flower and vegetable beds for the Stovehouse borders. Hilary has produced beautiful designs for each section of the borders, giving us a scale and a possible plant list for each. We now have the challenge of preparing the sites and producing the plants for same!
This is the month where we also harvest our willow bed (now 5 years old) and we cut some of the longest, thickest willow to date and prepared it for storage and weaving. After looking at Hilary’s design for the Stovehouse, we need 5 willow obelisks for our sweet peas. Victoria demonstrated the weaving technique, and a veteran has already accomplished a beautiful plant support.
We continue to feed the birds on a weekly basis, and we have been fortunate enough to watch a pair of woodpeckers (male and female) come to the feeding station on a regular basis. Unfortunately, we cannot get a picture due to the elusive nature of these stunning birds ….despite many attempts. We also took part in the RSPB big garden bird watch we carried this out over two days to allow different veterans to take part and practise their observation and identification skills. This is the 3rd year that we have taken part in the survey and our findings have been consistent over this time.
Woodwork has remained very popular, and we have added another three products to the ever growing GL range; bat boxes, trugs and wellie boot removers. All essential garden accessories.
There has also been much activity in the kitchen; we have enjoyed soups, curries, tatties & mince, lasagne, haggis and meatloaf at lunchtimes. The pot has been busy boiling on numerous occasions after a very kind donation of Seville oranges from Tor. There have been around 25 jars of marmalade made this month with a variety of interesting additions. Three jars have been selected and will be sent off for entry at the Dalemain Marmalade Festival.
We would also like to thank everyone who has donated to us this month. We have received an interesting collection of cacti, some of which required careful
repotting! Dobbies supplied us with even more plant materials. We also received Seville oranges, seeds, seed trays and pots and last but not least … the home baking.
There are some blooms in the garden this month; Camellia, Hellebores, primula, snowdrops and crocus. So spring is definitely round the corner.
Pamela and Victoria.