In the garden news
As the last weeks of summer approach, we are feeling quite satisfied in having most of our wild flower meadows cut. This is quite a task as we have acres to get through, much of which has to be done by hand. We always do this work at the end of summer, after all the wild flowers have set seed and it is important that all of the grass is raked up and removed. The only hay remaining to be cut now is our biggest meadow, at the front of the manor. This we can mow with commercial hay making equipment, but we like to do it very late due to a rather rare wild flower called Devil’s Bit Scabious, Succisa pratensis. This is the most beautiful thing, which flowers very late in the season giving us an incredible blue haze through the maturing meadow.
As well as the last wild flowers the insects are particularly busy in late summer, before we make the last meadow cut. A walk through the meadow at this time of year is the most incredible experience, with literally millions of insects at the peak of activity. Butterflies, crickets, moths and bumblebees are some of the most eye catching, but probably the most precious are our honeybees.
This is the first year we have had beehives in the orchard and the project has been a massive success. The sight of the bees working hard throughout the season has been a constant joy and the results of their hard work can be seen in the orchard, with better pollination increasing our yield of fruit. But best of all was our first crop of garden honey, extracted last week. Possibly the tastiest thing we have ever produced from the garden. Because we need to build the strength of the hive we only took a little for chef to taste, but once the hives are in full production we will produce comb honey for breakfast, to be enjoyed alongside the apple juice from our orchard.
Head Gardener Tom