Winter

When I’m Sixty Four

There are not many things to celebrate about the ever rapidly passing years, but at least for a year I am now a Beatles song, and from the iconic Sgt Pepper album.

Those of you who jog, cycle, drive or even stroll past Reveley Lodge along the Elstree Rd will have noticed its recent full exposure to the outside world. I have been reducing the screen of privet, laurel and holly mostly to ground level. There is always a pleasure to destructive gardening, however moving the resulting branches across the road and into the field has been a challenge considering the numbers and speed of the vehicles along the road. This new exposure may reduce the number of times visitors comment ‘I have lived in Bushey for X years and never knew this was here’. I have added this to the other banned statements list which include ‘Are you the lucky person that works here‘ and ‘What do you do in the winter’.

One pleasant consequence from my pruning efforts is that for a short while Reveley Lodge has become official Hazel stick supplier to the Woodside Morris Men. I used to morris dance myself at one time, now retired due to an increasing inability to leave the ground to an adequate height, and know how quickly a side can get through sticks especially as the vigour with which the sticks come together increases as an evening progresses, no doubt directly proportional to the amount of beer consumed. 

 At this time of year many of the gardening writers and pundits talk about reviewing what did well last season and plans for next year. Oh that I am that organised or decisive. I know I’ll order too many seed packets lured by browsing too many catalogue , although I order online I still would not want to be without the hard copy. In fact my Desert Island book would be a Thompson & Morgan seed catalogue. Even with the knowledge that the flowers pictured will not always be true to colour or that some flowers look better in closeup than in the garden, I’ll be ticking the order box. With vegetables it should be easier to disregard things that do not grow well here but I’ll probably give them another try, step forward carrots, sweetcorn and aubergine but I am definitely not trying to grow okra ever again (I think). The outdoor tender plants succumbed to the couple of ground frosts we had last month, so I have begun to bring the Cannas into the greenhouse. I divide and pot them straight away without drying, then they sit under the greenhouse staging before a watering in early March starts them back into growth. By this method I get earlier flowering. The Dahlia tubers I treat differently, they spend a few weeks drying out in the boiler room before storing dry in the shed. They are then potted in March in the cold frame. With most of the other tender perennials I have taken cuttings in August so they are now young plants seeing out the winter in the greenhouse and providing an occasional snack for our resident mice. I’m never in a hurry to clear the remaining vegetables and accompanying weeds in the vegetable garden as this protects the soil surface from heavy rain, and I have convinced myself that the rampant sea of chickweed is self sown green manure. Which is a good thing he says !! 

© Bushey Museum Property Trust 2017