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News Archive

Summer Hols

Sunday 30 July 2017 at 22:25

Thank you for making this the best spring / summer ever for us at Norwell Nurseries and Gardens. You have visited us in greater numbers than ever this year and bought even more plants, it will enable us to increase the gardens and offer even more unusual plants for sale in autumn and next year. Many plants in the garden have been especially good this year and in general the weather has been kind also. Periods of warm dry weather have been ended, just when one was getting desperate, with a few days of heavy rain which has meant that plants were never under too much detrimental stress. This has led to exceptionally good displays of Hemerocallis, roses and most other herbaceous perennials. We have great plans for the next 6 months or so as the gardens are going to be extended around the Pavilion, watch out for sand beds and new beds which will show case our new National Collection of Astrantias. As for now we are taking a well earned rest during August, so if you would like to come during this month please leave a message on our answer phone and we will get back to you with possible dates. For the rest of you, we look forward to seeing you in September.
Best wishes Dr Andrew Ward

A spring review

Wednesday 17 May 2017 at 22:45

I find it ironic that the time when most people will be looking at our web site is the time that I am least able to update the news! This year has been more manic than ever, spring. as assessed by first picking of Asparagus and the first blossom of the Kanzan Cherry, was 3 weeks earlier than last year. This means that so many of our jobs are condensed into an incredibly tight time frame. Also we were finishing the Pavilion and helping and supervising, for a week, the pruning of our neighbours 70 ft poplar trees down to 5 ft. This is the third time that this has been necessary in the 25 years we have been here as they get to a height where they start to drop limbs with no warning these can be 2 ft in diameter and over 30 ft in length themselves falling from a height of 20 ft plus. They also tend to fall into our garden due to their natural lean, because of this a majority of the wood has to be felled into our woodland area, involving much disruption. Of course its not just the humans that are disrupted but the woodland plants are suddenly faced with direct full sun rather than the shade afforded by 16 of these leviathans. As ever some plants soon show their disquiet with Podophyllum peltatum losing its apple green shine and replacing it with a bronzed sulk. If other occasions are echoed then the Epipactis gigantea, which pushes through its dense canopy, will do spectacularly well this year.
After early and mid spring warmth and some dryness we had a fortnight of east winds and gloom, this was ended by frost, minus five on the 24th April, and minus 3 a week later. If you want to see what looks like a flame thrower in action just look at the leaves on Magnolias, Astilbes, Persicarias, Rheums and the ever susceptible Kirengshoma which was blackened through 5 layers of fleece! The joys of a frost pocket revisited and it really is desperately sad seeing the effects of just a few hours of low temperatures and how they will impinge on the garden all year.
Still I know that's why some of you come to Norwell, (not to see blackened stumps) but the plants that will grow through these trying conditions and triumph on the heavy clay as well. Perhaps from now on you'll also be coming to have slice of cake and a well earned cup of tea. Enjoy your garden, this rain will make plants grow like stink.
Best wishes
Dr Andrew Ward

Open-well yes, nearly!

Tuesday 28 February 2017 at 22:51

We always set ourselves the task of opening on the first of March, a task which focusses the mind, whereas most other, sane, nursery folk defer until spring really has arrived and open in April. This year we seem to be less prepared than ever I always bemoan the fact that February has only 28 days a few extra would make all the difference, perhaps a good forty day month. Anyway, it is still very wet here, the builders are coming tomorrow to dig a long, very messy trench right through the main lawn between the herbaceous borders and we should be open-what can possibly go wrong? If you want to come, bring wellies (and possibly a hard hat and high vis. jacket), if you are in no rush come mid March, you will always get a warm welcome but by then it should be a calmer one!

Clematis napaulensis

Monday 06 February 2017 at 08:47

I guess many gardeners are obsessed with the weather, I certainly am with the BBC weather being recorded nightly and numerous weather apps so I can select the one that promises the best for the day ahead! Norwell has had an average winter so far, some cold snaps with minus 8 in late November and early December, a dry interlude during most of January and then saturated soil late Jan. Unremarkable really and so far not a flake of snow spotted here. We hope that most plants will think it unremarkable too. In our family this month was always known as 'February Fill Dyke' so you can't expect it to remain dry long, but March as 'Road Mender' when historically, after a long winter, workmen could finally get out and do something about the unmetalled roads as they had dried out enough to start repairing.
Thus, we look forward to March, but let us not forget the gardening pleasures of February Iris reticulata are out, the dark purple ones such as George have a splash of golden yellow on the falls which make it stand out. They look great standing sentinel next to some of the myriad of Snowdrops varieties available now, their nodding, often scented, crystaline white flowers, along with Aconites, really are the herald of the new gardening year. Associated with Helleborous hybridus types under the canopy of deciduous trees and you really can't go wrong.
Until 15 years ago I had had a hate hate relationship with winter flowering Clematis, finding them miffy and shy to flower, then I was given Clematis napaulensis, it climbed to our eves in two years, drips with vanilla, and lime flowers which are made showy by their dark red stamens and it does this in January to March, followed in summer by typical silvery hairy seed heads. Until recently I have had very few to sell but this year a bumper crop of seedlings are now at a sellable size to flower next winter. Ours is visible through chinks in the bedroom curtains and the flowers drip from the branches like bunches of grapes and give an impetuous to get up on an unremarkable February day!
Best wishes
Dr Andrew Ward

Happy New Year

Wednesday 21 December 2016 at 12:11

Wishing my customers, readers of this occasional blog and gardeners everywhere a very happy new gardening year. As I write, on this the winter solstice, the days have already been pulling out for nearly a week and you feel that although the real cold weather may still be in front of us at least we are now heading in the right direction! Although closed, except by appointment, at this time of year we are really busy, mail orders are now all sent until January and the plants are all tucked up on the sale beds under a layer of fleece. A few mouse traps have to accompany them as the first time I did this when peeling off the fleece in mid Feb I found I had given them an insulated hotel with a store house, in pots, and an all you can eat menu. They had taken advantage of this prodigiously with many pots just consisting of aerated compost with every last skerrick of root having been devoured.
We have cut down what we can in the gardens but as ever the rain made the ground too heavy to walk on by mid November and by avoiding the beds until late February it prevents the soil compacting and destroying all the work we do trying to improve the soil structure.
Our Garden room continues to be a source of delight and frustration. It is being slowly completed and I was hoping to start decorating it over the Christmas period but this has been put back again. However, we sincerely hope to be able to offer a self service delicious cup of tea or coffee and perhaps a slice of cake if you come in March (or perhaps April or maybe even May.... but definitely some time this year!).
So gardeners, hang on in there, it won't be dull and grey forever, there is a rebirth waiting and the Hellebores, Snowdrops and even some Trilliums are demonstrating their faith in warmer, lighter times ahead by putting their heads above the parapet.
Happy New Year
Dr Andrew Ward

Additional Open Day For Sunday 30th OCT.

Thursday 20 October 2016 at 10:52

The Asters are fading but te grasses are lovely in our grassoretum but as we head into late October and November it's the time for the Chrysanthemums to shine! They should be an essential in every garden as they help make winter that bit shorter and as well as gladdening the heart of the gardener they provide much needed late sustenance for bees, butterflies and other late foraging insects. Choose the single or semi-double vars and plant in sun and see the hundreds of bees that crowd them on a mild late autumn day and feel smug that you are helping nature get through the winter. Remember that our Plant Heritage National Collection is of HARDY Chrysanths not the larger, tender exhibition types, so these you leave in the garden all winter and up they come next spring like any other hardy perennial. Due to the interest caused by the BBC Gardeners World programme at one of our sister National Collections (Hill Close Gardens) we are opening on Sunday 23rd Oct for an extra day and may have other extra days later, watch the web site and twitter.

Asters, grasses, vine and Chrysanths

Thursday 06 October 2016 at 11:00

The Asters are late this year which means that they will be looking brilliant for the open day on the 9th of October, but it also means that the Chrysanthemums are also late, so although we will have about 25 varieties in flower it will only be 20% of the total we stock. Therefore, a second visit towards the 20th of October would help you see many more varieties. It's not just the Asters which are looking majestic the grasses have excelled this year and visitors who purport to being ambivalent about them are often won over by our 'Grassoretum' - it's like a swishy arboretum with individual specimens being grown in the lawn.
Already sold out is Aster (Symphyotrichum)'Dark Desires' with tall stems to 6ft and myriads of dark purple, yellow and orange centered flowers, book one for next year! We still have a few of the shining Vitis 'Spetchley Red' it's not for the small garden as its vigorous stems spread across or up (excellent into trees or pergolas). The leaves are just turning glowing ember colours of oranges, scarlet and crimson, they last well and are a perfect foil for the blue bloomed, black grapes which hang in multiple bunches. Although pippy they make an excellent wine (so I read). We made a unique (in a good way) coulis from the grapes of Vitis vinifera purpurea which is less vigorous, still self clinging, and has purple leaves. This we add to apple crumbles and other apple based desserts and it gives an aromatic deep fruit berry flavour and a rich purple colour. Delicious! Both of these vines cover well and give a Mediterranean feel to the garden whilst being hardy to minus 21 degrees C.
Come and see us before we shut for the winter or if the weather is good make an appointment and visit during late October and November, you will get a warm welcome even if the weather isn't.
Dr Andrew Ward

Holidays

Sunday 31 July 2016 at 16:53

We always close in August and this year is no exception, it gives us a chance to catch up - on sleep mostly! But also on cutting down tired plants and a bit of a rejuvenation. It is typical that on the day we close I'm contacted to be told that our feature article in Landscape Magazine (Sept/ Oct edition) has come out, hopefully if you're reading this you will take some time out to come and visit us in September or October. Many of the roses are looking jaded now, waiting for a second flush for some, but not Rosa Blushing Lucy which is one of the latest to have its main flowering now. Although not heavily scented the small semi-double flowers are produced in great clusters opening mid pink and fading to nearly white so a truss of flowers is a thing of great beauty. Not only that but it is black spot resistant, which this year is a true bonus. Perhaps because of the very mild winter infected rose leaves stayed on their bushes and were then able to freely infect the new years leaves. Some plants have therefore been completely denuded and others disfigured, Blushing lucy is in shiny good health, climbing up the pillar of a pergola to about 10 ft. Highly recommended.
Wishing you a warm relaxing August in your garden and looking forward to seeing in autumn
Dr Andrew Ward

Summer is here

Wednesday 20 July 2016 at 12:00

The dull damp early to mid summer has been given a mid July heat wave, plants have grown 50% bigger this year with the constant moisture and some have flowered well because of this and others haven't lived up to their potential. Our Rosa souliana is out now and a scentsational spectacle it is. 10 m high and 15 across with tens of thousands of pure white gold stamened chalices earlier the boods gave a grey misty sheen oave the foliage. Hard to believe that 5 seeds fitted into a tiny packet 12 years ago. It is the last of our large climbing roses to flower, starting with Rosa, Norwell, R. Bobby James, R. Astra Desmond and finally R. souliana, the air is so heady around it, its like being enveloped in a comfortable blanket.
On a more vibrant note, the Crocosmias are bringing zing to the borders now with Late Lucifer following from true Lucifer and then Paul's Best Yellow providing Apricot yellow tones, all upward facing and large. For those more interested in our wildlife than the plants (shame on you) the moorhens are now on their third brood this year. Never have we have had three from one pair, sometimes its just been the one. Thus we had one fledge from the first batch, two gawky teenagers are still being part fed by the parents and are milling around and I expect the 5 eggs to start hatching within a week. Come and see them before we shut for August and see the acrobatics of the Dragonflies as your very own air show. Oh yes and perhaps look at some flowers whilst you're here. Dr Andrew Ward

Gardens Open

Thursday 23 June 2016 at 09:21

Sunday is our village Gardens Open day the 20th time I have organised this floral jamboree and we have 10 very different and beautiful gardens open this year. Please do come along have some delicious cake and see a quintessentially English village welcome you. The allotments are looking good with an eclectic mix of flowers and veg with an Olympic Park style meadow planting patch looking resplendent. It's a ll for an excellent cause and if you can't make it on the Sunday then the following Wednesday evening will be quieter.

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A moist spring brings forth voluptuous growth

Monday 23 May 2016 at 21:44

All of a sudden the borders are nearly full, this spring, unlike previous years has been characterised by frequent rain. The slugs have also enjoyed this and the mild winter. Down by the pond the Candelabra Primulas get better every year, a myriad of oranges, pinks and some scarlets with a vivid yellow eye, its a shame that these seem to be the slowest to grow. Interesting buttercups ring the margins, double Fair maids of France, Ranunculus aconitifolius flore pleno look like miniature white pom-pom Dahlias. All be at the whim of the Moorhens that seem to be down to one chick now after hatching three, but today the garden warblers have been visiting the pond marginals gobbling up unsuspecting resting insects.

Warm next week?

Friday 29 April 2016 at 11:03

Winter came mid February and spring is stilll struggling to show, last night we had minus 5.8 degrees C. There are some benefits however, spring flowers like the Narcissi have lasted for ages as have the Erythroniums and Trilliums, plus we have had a much wetter spring than recently so herbaceous plants have made steady growth, when it does warm up they will be luxurient. Sales beds are full and the promise of warmer days and colourful gardens is just around the corner. Dr Andrew Ward

Happy Easter

Friday 25 March 2016 at 09:21

A beautiful Good Friday beckons followed by more usual Easter fare but it would be great to see you here. We finally have frog spawn, friends from the New Forest visited two weeks ago and already theirs were tadpoles! Erythroniums looking good in the garden and the first Tulips showing colour, with the sun out it looks like spring has come, tomorrow I may not be so sure.....
Whatever the weather you will get a warm welcome here and if you are looking for advice, I've just received this email :it gives you some idea of what we do:

Hello Andrew,

We wish to thank you for giving the time to us yesterday when we visited your splendid nurseries and garden and for sharing some of your vast knowledge and expertise. You were most helpful in guiding us in our selection of hardy chrysanthemum and we are delighted with the choices we made. The time you gave us was especially appreciated. Dr Andrew Ward

NEWS / BLOG: More and more plants

Wednesday 16 March 2016 at 21:55

We have just finished a major upload of new plants to the website. Unfortunately, some old favourites have had to be rested to allow their poor denuded clumps a chance of rejuvenating so that we can attack them again next year! However, some favourites at the nursery had escaped being listed on the website and many others are first time offerings thus we now have over 1,300 plants listed and described with photos for 90% of these (but I bet not the one you want). Thus we hope to offer over 400 new plants in 2016 but please be aware that some are in small numbers and some are still a twinkle in the propagators eye!
Let me point you towards the Asters, Epimediums, Eupatoriums, Hostas, Veratrums and Veronicastrums, to name but a few that have had significant increases in varieties and species offered. I hope you find something to interest you.
Dr Andrew Ward

BLOG: Propagation, propagation, propagation.

Tuesday 08 March 2016 at 12:31

Cold nights and cold days are holding plants in stasis but the sun, in a sheltered spot, has warmth and plants are just girding their proverbial loins, ready for action stations. The web site is being updated so some old favourites are having a rest as their parent plants need a year or two to bulk up again but many more 'new favourites' are being added. Going through the alphabet and just finished the Chrysanths so still a bit to go, but their are some real beauties being added. Remember sometimes we have as few as 6 plants for the year, sometimes that is six more than we actually get asked for and sometimes it is fifty fewer than we we need. If only we had a crysatal ball. It has been lovely seeing some of you here this first week, wrapped up warm and in wellies dodging the sleet.
Oh, and yes we are busy propagating.
Dr Andrew Ward

Meteorological if not gardening spring!

Tuesday 01 March 2016 at 10:43

We have always opened at the beginning of March, earlier than many specialist nurseries, this is only because it puts the pressure on us to clean, tidy and prepare so that in actual fact we are ready for the middle of March! It's not that we spend the winter twiddling our thumbs but our soil is so heavy we cannot gain access to the beds from mid November through to late February without doing irreparable damage to the soil structure. A few dry days last week meant that some beds have been cleared and the Tulips which should only just be appearing are in fact 6 inches high. The winter was testing for plants, no real dormancy and the odd sight of Daffodils flowering before or with the Snowdrops, many of which are not early.
In fact the snowdrops have continued very well and the woodland looks a picture with Hellebores, drifts of Cardamine quinquefolia and the early Erythroniums making an appearance. If you do decide to come please bring stout shoes as we are still wet and work is going on to replace long lengths of trellis and pergola which were all put in about 15 years ago and have finally shown their age. Our fencing craftsman Chris Hunt, is doing his best to appease the roses and climbers so that the display should not be too diminished this year. We should also have plenty of wood to feed the log burner for what looks likely to be a chilly start to spring! Hope to see you here or at one of many spring talks.

Dr Andrew Ward

A wet bleak January with hopes for spring

Sunday 31 January 2016 at 11:16

The thought of regrowth and flowery times ahead gives us the energy to do those chores which need doing but give little joy in themselves. Thus greenhouse has been emptied, sterilised, washed down and is ready to receive. A few seeds (leeks and more Sweet peas) have been set to give one the impression that spring is just round the corner. Winter has been typified by extremely mild weather and wet weather tempting Iris Katherine Hodgkin into flower as well as the intensely fragrant Chimonathus praecox. We are still celebrating the fact that we have been awarded a Plant Heritage National Collection of Hardy Chrysanths. This is a collection in conjunction with Judy Barker, the long standing collection holder, and Hill Close Gardens. We all look forward to championing these wonderful plants and we hope to have even more to sell next year so you too can have a marvellous show of hardy (no need to lift) plants with copious sprays to pick for the house and have the bees on, well into November and beyond.

May I wish you all the best for the New Year.

Please note that we are now closed, except by appointment, until March 2nd 2016.

Dr Andrew Ward

December

Tuesday 01 December 2015 at 11:00

Winter really now is upon us but in spite of minus 7 degrees C here in mid November the colour continues, you just have to look harder. The Chrysanths have looked fabulous this fall and we were delighted when several garden photographers came to take a record of the garden. Look out for articles in Country Life and Landscape magazines next autumn. Even now, Dulwich Pink, Chelsea Physic Garden and Mrs Jessie Cooper are showing what can be achieved. Throw in a Nerine Stephanie, copious Schizostylis (Hesperantha) coccineus vars and a precocious Hellebore and you have something to warm your cockles even in December.
Remember, the nights start pulling out on the 14th of December (although because the mornings get darker at a quicker pace, until the solstice, the days overall get shorter) which means Aconites, Snowdrops and Hellebores can't be far behind and then we begin again..Roll on spring.

Please note that we are now closed, except by appointment, until March 2nd next year.
Many thanks for your interest in these musings and we hope to see many of you again next year!

Dr Andrew Ward

October

Wednesday 14 October 2015 at 11:00

It's definitely nippy now and the Asters are a blaze of colour, if warm lilacs, mauves, purples, blues, creams and whites can be a blaze. More like a sumptuous billowing sea of soft contentment!
Of course the grasses are an excellent contrast with their many strong green verticals but often airy panicles of purple catching the golden lower autumn sun.

The Chrysanths are later this year due to the disappointing summer but should be coming up to their splendour in a weeks time-ready for when we shut!

Many thanks to all those that came to the Sunday the 11ths NGS open day, the last warm day really, with one hundred and fourteen Norwell Nurseries visitors raising another £275 for the cancer charities which the NGS so nobly helps. Another £175 was raised towards the village hall from the teas you drank and the cakes you wolfed. That makes £2,400 raised from the four openings this year for NGS and another £1,400 for the hall. Again a big thank you to all of those who came - and please look out for our 2016 dates.

Please note that we are now closed, except by appointment, until March 2nd next year.
Many thanks for your interest in these musings and we hope to see many of you again next year!

Dr Andrew Ward

September

Wednesday 02 September 2015 at 11:00

After a quiet August having a few days away, we have now reopened for the autumn.

The nursery is bursting with colour, try some of the new Persicarias if you haven't got any yet. They fizz with dark reds, orangey pinks and soft pink or white bottle brush-like flowers for weeks.

Looking good with grasses and the autumn daisies - some are grown for their foliage, P. Red Dragon is now well established in gardens but newer is P Purple Fantasy: mint green leaves heavily marked in purple.

Our grassoretum comes into its own in the autumn (its a more swishy version of an arboretum) with some of the Miscanthuses making annual impressive statements, growing over 14ft in 5 months. Unfortunately this year's weather has not been good enough to get them to flower, but when these monsters do they are overtopped by huge burgundy plumes.

Come and see all these delights for yourselves! The Asters are just about to come into their own and the Chrysanths haven't started yet but remember the end of October isn't that far away and then we shut for winter!

Dr Andrew Ward

June

Monday 22 June 2015 at 11:00

Norwell Gardens Open day for the National Gardens Scheme is coming up on Sunday 28 June (1-5pm and Wednesday 1 July (6.30-9pm). Two extra gardens than those mentioned in the yellow book, so seven gardens plus the church and the allotments (not bad for £4-children free) plus the most delicious home-made refreshments. Please come and see our beautiful village and some lovely interesting gardens.

Oh, for some settled warm summer weather! On 8 June I went out at midnight to find the grass very crunchy, frosted all over and -0.5 degrees C - Dahlias bore the brunt! The good weather of last year has meant that the Roses are particularly good this year, the perfume from the Rambler Rosa Norwell fills the car park and beyond. Even Rosa moyesii Geranium has finally, after quite a few years, decided to provide a show.

The bog garden, which we replanted this spring, is filling out but the Ligularias were not making the growth I expected. An inspection one warm evening revealed 52, three-inch long slugs doing their best to bonsai it.

The last time I wrote at the start of May, I was expecting the moorhens to hatch a brood the next day. When I went down that next day, a predator had been in the night destroyed the nest in the middle of the pond and the eggs were lying at the floor of the pond. Perhaps a fox or mink could have done it, although the latter has not been seen here. For weeks the adults didn't seem to be interested in starting again, then on 10 June a new nest appeared, they were back on track. I hadn't realised how back on track they were however, as on 11 June they appeared with two chicks and by 12 June, six balls of fluff were being fed and cared for. It now seems that they had made a nest in the top of our flat headed leylandii hedge to avoid the predator and then fell to the floor to come to the pond nest. They are more sensible than I would give them credit for. The six have now been whittled down to four and they are growing fast, but well worth coming to see even if plants aren't your thing.

A note to Nicholas who came with his Mum a few weeks back: the blackbird that seemed to abandon her nest hadn't done so, as she is now feeding at least one chick. We also have a new nest under the potting shed staging which is very visible to all and sundry - you do get to feel very responsible and protective to all these baby birds!

Dr Andrew Ward
(It's my Birthday today!!!!)

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