The Gardens of Wellspring
As you can see from the picture above the courtyard has produced a variety of fruit and veg, despite the rain this year.
In July the Temple Quay Volunteers kindly returned to tackle the task of levelling the crèche garden ready to lay paving stones. Because we had enough soil in our beds a skip was hired to take away the excess soil. A great days engineering work (we broke out into a discussion group with the caretaker on the safety of the fencing around the crèche garden). To say thank you the group each received a jar of homemade blackcurrant jam made from the fruit of the garden – smiles all round.
Veg: Some veg didn’t do very well at all; the courgettes produced very little, and the squashes none at all. The Beetroot didn’t swell a lot, only a few Spring onions showed their heads above ground, the runner beans did quite well towards the end of the growing season, but could have done better if the wet weather hadn’t held them back. The cabbages and cauliflower were eaten alive by slugs and snails, no matter what we did to protect the plants.
What did do well were the onions and shallots; we pulled them as their shoulders were showing above the ground and their leaves still green. We hung them in an open dry area and as the leaves died and turned brown so the onions grow bigger and the outer skin hardened, this took quite a few weeks, but a good result.
We had a good crop of dwarf green beans, broad beans (plus the heads of the bean plants), mange tout, yellow cherry tomatoes, and large green tomatoes which were made into chutney. It was great fun digging up potatoes, cries of “I see one” as we dug. We took advice from local people as to the best time to dig them up, i.e. when they had finished flowering and the foliage started to look sad. Aren’t peas difficult to see to pick when they are the same colour as their leaves? that being so we still harvested a good crop from our wigwam of pea plants.
Herbs: Parsley was kept cropped and sold, and other herbs such as bay, sage, thyme, bay, and lemon balm are drying as we speak ready to be sold.
Fruit: We had blackcurrants coming out of our ears, so to speak, so much so that we sold approximately £30 worth of jam, that is without the jars we gave away as thank you gifts.
The alpine strawberries (small wild strawberries) kept ripening, not everyone’s cup of tea but they give good ground cover under the blackcurrants, and have an abundance of pretty small flowers and bear sweet tart fruit. We also picked some large juicy conventional strawberries which are thriving under an apple tree. Rhubarb is always a favourite, although it did struggle a bit this year in the wet weather.
Only one apple this year I am afraid, and the black grapes didn’t do so well either. We are not sure the future of the apple trees, they seem to struggle in their enclosed environment, fighting aphids and mildew every Spring. They are pruned and fed, but are still struggling, we’ll see how they fare next year and then review the situation again. The plum trees are still very young but they gave a good show of leaves this year and look healthy.
The ‘forest’ of late Autumn raspberries also did extremely well, producing enough each week to sell and make jam.
Courtyard Flower beds
The flowers around the bench provided a show of colour most of the season, some plants are still to mature, i.e. the hydrangea, candy tuft, and the asters, but the pinks, alum lilies, tobacco plants, lemon balm, and honesty did well. Along the far wall of the courtyard where the ground can be very arid due to the warmth of the sun and the overhanging roof, the geraniums, which had been brought down from the balcony, gave a wonderful display of colour standing on paving slabs in between which blue Campanula bloomed.
Due to the work which was being done to the floor of the balcony, the geraniums and bay tree were moved to the courtyard, and they gave such a show of colour and were easier to look after that I am afraid we have abandoned the idea of growing anything on the balcony.
Front Entrance Garden
Some of the garden struggled this Summer, apart from the Abutilon Violetta (large pink flowering shrub), the sedge (tall grass with long clumps of pendulous flowers), and the roses.
We have decided to concentrate on the flowers that do well next year, so in preparation we have given the garden a really good dig, weed and prune, and then introduced a good layer of manure to add goodness and help break up the clay a bit more, we then planted more roses, and over a hundred spring bulbs, all of which was paid for by the selling of produce from the courtyard garden, so hopefully next Spring and Summer there should be a good show of colour that everyone can enjoy.
Car Park Gardens
I am afraid again this year these gardens had the minimum of attention, but have still performed well, although we had to prune hard and fell a couple of Buddleias that had taken over patches. At the moment we are allowing the garden to die back through the winter and then tackle the clearing up.
We are getting there. The courtyard has been cleared of all unnecessary pots, tools and wood, and we also have a better idea of what grows well, so during the Winter we shall sit down and decide what to grow next year.
New this year is a blackboard which is situation on the wall next to the door leading into the courtyard from the reception. This proved useful when we chalked up on the board that jars were wanted for chutney and jam, and local residents did us proud with bags of jars being left at reception for us. We plan to use the board even more next year (we kept forgetting to have the chalk handy this year) to let people know what we produce, plant of the week and general news about the garden and how people can help.
If you are interested in joining the gardening group and can spare a few hours on a Tuesday afternoon, we are usually found in the courtyard from 1 pm. Please ask for Margaret or Sue at the Wellspring reception, or just drop in for a chat while you are visiting the Centre, children are welcome under supervision.