Hookshouse Virtual Open Garden

If it weren’t for coronavirus, Hookshouse Pottery would be holding its spring exhibition and Open Garden over the bank holiday weekend. Chris and Lise White are making arrangements for pre-booked individual visits but in the meantime scroll down for a ‘virtual open garden’ of photos they’ve taken. And first, Chris describes a few of the weather-related challenges they’ve faced on top of the pandemic – not that you’d know it from the magnificent pictures!

Every season is a strange one, you will hear gardeners say, but this one has been even stranger than most.

After a long, unremittingly wet and mild winter, many plants responded to the sudden heat wave by flowering much earlier than usual, notably delphiniums and some of the roses and clematis.

The bulbs and blossom were superb. Some fruit (apples and pears) have set well, promising bumper crops, but the plums were wiped out by an earlier badly timed frost.

With next week’s scheduled National Garden Scheme opening cancelled, as well as all private group visits, we have been freed of the need to work towards particular deadlines, and this has resulted in our tackling a few jobs we would otherwise have pushed to one side.

For example we have taken the opportunity to do some much needed heavy pruning and cutting back of trees and shrubs which don’t now need to be looking respectable for 22nd May. We’ve also been able to take a few moments to really see the charm of the garden for ourselves, instead of being exclusively focused on what needs to be done!

Having said that, we are also pretty upset at the idea that nobody much will see the garden, so we are starting to think about ways in which socially-distanced visits could take place. More news soon.

Current concerns are the latest drop in temperature from 28 degrees to near winter lows and overnight frosts.

A few tentative ventures into planting out things which were becoming pot bound in the greenhouse, hoping we would get away with it, have proved to be over optimistic: thefrost damage to some of the beans, courgettes and squashes (and the potatoes) has been quite serious despite a covering of fleece, something I’ve never suffered before.

Fortunately I kept back reserve plants. Dahlias have also suffered though, on the whole, the flower garden has fared better. The main enemies here have four legs – rabbits hugely enjoy new shoots of many plants, and this means a lot of careful protection has been needed.

And there are more than a few other preoccupations! Can we protect the newly emerging yellow rattle in the mini flower meadow from the rabbits? Will the new strawberry protection system, designed to defeat the squirrels who broke into the fruit cage last year and scoffed the lot, actually do the business?

And what can we do to replace the large number of asparagus crowns that seem to have succumbed to the waterlogged conditions of the winter?

You can visit Hookshouse’s website at www.hookshousepottery.co.uk, like them on Facebook or send an email to be added to their mailing list.

Gallery: Click on the images to see the full size photo