One of the projects for the vegetable gardens this year was to see if we could be ‘self-sufficient’ with cucumber, and we are happy to say that this has been an overwhelming success.  We have also been supplying the kitchen with new potatoes, delicious yellow courgettes, ‘rainbow’ beetroot, heritage carrots, beefsteak and cherry tomatoes and five different types of beans; all this in spite of the occasional visit from the local stag who is particularly partial to beet-greens and bean plants.  Any vegetables not required by the kitchen were available for sale on the table outside the bar and the runner beans and cucumbers were especially popular this year! We are now harvesting a colourful variety of winter squash, which will be featured on the menu over the next few months.

Club members who have wandered up to our vegetable gardens will have noticed many beautiful flowers in amongst the vegetables.  We have grown these ‘cutting’ flowers not only to add a splash of colour, but also so that we can supply the house with interesting fresh flowers for the table and mantlepiece displays.   All of these plants have been grown from seed or cuttings and propagated in our greenhouses; the dahlias and sunflowers have been especially successful this year.

The giant purple echinops ‘blue globe’ in the conservatory bed attracted a lot of attention this year,  however it was in danger of taking over the border!  We have therefore decided to lift and divide it over the winter so we hope to have a number of small plants for sale in the spring.  Keeping this bed filled only with flowers in the blue, purple and white range is sometimes a challenge, and we are always adding new and interesting plants; watch for the beautiful white foxtail lilies next summer.

In addition to expanding the vegetable and cut flower beds, this winter we hope to do some maintenance work on the orchard and fruit tunnel, which is planted with raspberries, red, black and white currants and blueberries and all of these will be welcome additions to the restaurant menu.

Gardeners Tip: if you are planting shrubs, be sure to use Mycorrhizal fungi; this will form a symbiotic relationship with your plant’s root enabling it to find better resources. Applied as a powder or gel directly to the roots when planting, rose plants particularly like the fungus.