A View from the Garden Gate Project: Gratitude, green shoots and flowers to look forward to

Craft stall at the Spring Open Day

By Nick Condron

A huge thank you to everyone who came along to enjoy and support our Spring Open Day on April 1st. It was great to see you all and once again share the best of what our garden has to offer. Despite the rather damp and chilly weather, we managed to raise the very welcome sum of just under £1,400, which will greatly help to support the running costs of our Garden Gate Project.

Open Day cake

Now that April is here, leaf buds are beginning to unfurl and spring blossoms are opening out all around the garden. Our woodland is looking particularly well managed, with fresh green leaves having already appeared on the coppiced hazel trees ahead of those on the rigidly arched circle of limes.

New hazel leaves in the woodland

Beneath, the young nettle foliage is really flourishing as a result of all the rain we’ve had. The canes of the white stemmed brambles that we planted last year have grown well and are now bending over gracefully to make fresh roots where they come into contact with the ground, from which new canes in turn will grow. We’ve also planted some thornless blackberries in between them against the back wall, which will add to the fruit from our little forest provided by the strawberries planted across its floor.

Sculpted sweet pea support

We have vigorous new shoots coming up where our perennial hop vines are planted, on either side of the rear entrance to our herb garden. As you may remember, we’re growing them in collaboration with the community brew association Hop Along Thanet, which launched in 2021. The hops will be harvested in September and used when fresh and green rather than being dried, to produce a seasonal and specifically local ale with a spicy-grass flavour. So far the project has been a great success and the organisers are keen for new growers to get involved if you fancy having a go. (@hopalongthanet)

A busy seedbench

Elsewhere, the polytunnels are a hive of activity. The dahlias and canna lilies have been planted in pots to start them off under cover, and we’re busy sowing more vegetable and flower seeds and pricking out those seedlings that are ready to grow on. In particular, we’ve planted up a batch of busy lizzie plug plants that we look forward to decorating our shade house with; and a great number of self-seeded hellebores we discovered growing by some established plants, which we’ll eventually plant a number of in the shade of the woodland.

Open Day plant stall

The new cut flower beds are taking shape, with an artfully sculptural, woven hazel and willow frame now in place to support the sweet peas, which are the first plants to have been planted there. We have plenty more coming along to fill the beds, including antirrhinums, calendulas, cosmos, rudbeckias, sunflowers, and our favourite bright orange tithonias. It promises to be a really exciting year ahead, watching them all grow to form a wonderful new tapestry of colour in time for our National Garden Scheme Open Day on July 1st. We very much look forward to seeing you then. In the meantime, happy gardening!