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Ducks, digging and decorators

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Ducks, digging and decorators

Our Gardener Rachel Turfrey writes:

It’s been a super busy two weeks.  There’s so much to tell you that I don’t know where to start!  Perhaps an update on the Exedra Garden?  Well, the weeding is complete and I don’t mind saying that it’s looking spanking.  It took less than two weeks with all the help of our volunteers to get it weed free and the soil turned.  There are still a fair few plants to plant though: asters, pulmonaria and campanula to name a few.  The display this year should be spectacular.  Be there or be square.


I guess next I should fill you in on the big digger work we’ve had done. Unfortunately we’ve had to replace some pipework leading from the kitchen garden pond towards the main duck pond.  Although successful, it has made a fair amount of mess so this area of the KItchen Garden is closed until we can fix the mess and make it a little more stable under foot.  The top gate and main sections of the Kitchen Garden remain open though, so come on in and see our veg patch progress!


On the subject of veg patch progress, we have been getting seriously stuck in to the veg beds. Weeding, rotavating and sowing.  Seed potatoes, onion sets, peas, and beans have all gone in, with root veg and salads to follow close behind.  It’s been transformed as it was looking very ‘last year’!



The Exedra has now been painted, with the help of our new scaffold tower, two painters and a particularly talented carpenter.
It looks incredible in its new heritage off-white.  You have to see it to believe it.  On a sunny day, the ripples on the pond below reflect and play to the eye’s content.  As well as that, the planters around the pond have been potted up with double daisies (Bellis perennis Tasso Series) and the effect is perfectly sensational.



There’s also probably a whole paragraph of wildlife news too.  Surprisingly, and quite out of the ordinary, there was a call to our office recently reporting the sighting of a biscuit-coloured big cat at the end of our main drive.  According to the witness the sandy coloured feline approached the car, no doubt scaring the pants off the occupants, and then disappeared to attack a calf.  Well, I must admit, a couple of the gardening team were sceptical but, regardless, we set up our new wildlife night vision camera in the vicinity with some well-placed sandwich ham and crossed our fingers for some hard, indisputable evidence. Unfortunately, the ham was stolen by a naughty crow the moment we pressed record and turned our backs so we can’t add anything more to the story.  Sometimes, this blog just writes itself!!

But! In other wildlife news our wonderful, new night vision camera has been in action for the first time (not including the failed big cat footage) down in our Hidden Hollow.  We have many badger setts around the garden, some active, some dormant. You can tell the difference by the spoil heap that’s piled around the entrance when they’re in residence, similar to the flag over Buckingham Palace signifying that the Queen is home.  We sometimes wonder whether they have summer and winter residences.  Not content with just one home, they like to keep a ‘holiday home in the Hamptons’ for the warmer months. And after a quick bit of wiki reading, it seems we’re not far off the mark.  I can inform you that ‘outlier setts’ (separate from the main community sett) are used when certain nearby foods are in season, or, in the autumn when the main sett is crowded with the year’s young.  Luckily for us, our badgers aren’t camera shy and came out to say hello and have a snuffle around.  We’re new to this though and although we caught them on camera, we’re changing our angles and heights to hopefully capture better footage.  Watch this space!


Back to the gardening though...  We’ve recently had a bit of a switcheroo of the planters outside the cafe and the terracotta pots along the Eagle House border too.  The daffs had passed and have been replaced with tulips, specifically Golden Apeldoorn (large yellow ones), Queen of Night (deep purple ones) and Dordogne (orangey peach ones).


Of course we’ve also had some scorching sunshine lately and with that begins the mowing season.  We have quite a fair bit of mowing here at Rococo, most of which is done on a weekly basis.  We have our trusty pedestrian mower that handles the Kitchen Garden and our new (last year) ride on mower that we refer to as Gideon. (I can’t tell you why the pedestrian mower isn’t named, perhaps just an oversight. We’ll come back to you on that one!)  The Kitchen Garden mowing is done using the pedestrian mower and takes a good few hours to complete and that’s only once you know the route.  Here’s a map showing the precise route that enables all mowing without doubling over your work more than once per symmetrical side.  It takes a bit of time to familiarise yourself with it.  Perhaps we should do a competition??!!  If you’d like to come and try your hand at the Kitchen Garden mowing please feel free to get in touch.  First prize is the satisfaction of seeing the paths looking dapper thanks to your own fair hand's work!!!  Anyone??


So, next up is the exciting news of the new addition to the Bothy area.  We’ve now completed the brand new Auricula Theatre.  I say ‘we’, but I think credit really should go fully to Roger, our Head Gardener.  He has exceptional skill when it comes to woodwork and, having already shown his talent with our wonderful duck house, he’s now turned his hand to plant theatres!  There has been an Auricula Theatre of sorts outside theBbothy for a few years, but it was more of a rockery style and didn’t quite reflect the traditional 18th century style of a true Auricula Theatre.  Here is it in position, after a little bit of time getting all the right sized pots on the right shelves!



The garden is literally coming to life right now.  The weeks are passing so quickly and the colours are changing dramatically all the time. The incredibly zesty greens of the freshly opened leaves of the trees against the beautiful blue of the bluebells (Hyacinthoides non-scripta) is quite something at the moment, but it won’t last long, so come and take it in while you can. Soon the wild garlic will be flowering and we’ll be treated to the seas of white on green once again, reminiscent of February’s snowdrop displays.


But there really is only one way to finish off a week’s work, especially in the variable seasonal weather we’ve been having, and that’s to get more ducks!!  Well, it is duck weather isn’t it?!  And we needed more ducks.  In my opinion there can never be enough ducks!  But, from a Rococo Garden point of view we need them for pondweed eating.  So this isn’t just for fun, this is serious duck business.  Unfortunately (or some may say ‘fortunately’) the duck shop we use didn’t have the five young adult white Cherry Valley ducks we were hoping for so we had the terrible task of bringing home to the pond just two young adult ducks and three cute baby ducks. Such a shame.  Here they are, so gorgeous but also so loud when you hold them... like a guinea pig but turned up to 11!





And just one last thing, for this blog at least, we’re replacing Alice.  Of course, there really is no ‘replacing Alice’ but we do have a part time Gardener slot to fill.  At the time of writing this the closing date for applications is past so apologies if this gets anyone’s hopes up of applying.  Fans of Alice can rest assured that she is well and happy in her new job.  Having had a spot of lunch and a touch of shopping amongst the gorgeous shops of Nailsworth with her last weekend, I’m happy to pass on her love to all.


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