“Never cast a clout until May (or the May) is out” is an old adage that often rings true, reflecting the capricious nature of British weather and the bloom of hawthorn, known as May blossom. Despite April’s chilly, wet weather, our vegetable garden is slowly catching up. While the potatoes ‘Yukon Gold’ are slightly delayed due to cold soil, our polytunnel boasts thriving early potatoes like ‘Swift’ and ‘Maris Bard,’ perfect for serving with butter and salt. Sarah is planting out the brassicas along with peas, broad beans and an open sowing of radishes.

Polytunnel

The strawberries that were planted in the gutters this year have settled in and are producing plenty of flowers and fruit and Sarah has been busily planting the tomatoes.  There are also lettuce, radish, spinach and pak choi as well as rocket.

Plenty of greens to accompany the new potatoes!

Evolution of the Garden

Repeat visitors will notice changes in the vegetable garden as we removed the bird netting this spring and have amalgamated some of the smaller beds into one large bed.  This will give us some extra growing room as we can use the upright poles to support climbing plants and utilise the extra space that getting rid of the small paths will give us.  Our main challenge will be to avoid the depredations of the local pigeons who can spot a newly planted brassica from a mile away!

Along the herbaceous border, birch and hazel sticks offer support to plants prone to flopping, while the ‘Chelsea chop’ will be employed later in May to encourage bushier growth in select perennials like Nepeta and sedums. Sedums also benefit from being slightly lifted from the soil and the resulting root disturbance strengthens the new shoots, making them less prone to flopping. Anticipation builds for the blooms of early perennials, including beloved peonies and roses.

Foraging at Goldstone Meadows

Foraging in hedgerows and Goldstone meadows has yielded “Ladies Smock,” also known as Cardamine pratensis, painting the pasture with nodding pink bells. A denizen of damp grassland (pratensis meaning of meadows) the flowers have a honey aroma and can be eaten along with the cress-like foliage and offers a peppery taste akin to rocket or wasabi.

Wildlife enthusiasts may spot the red kite (Milvus milvus) soaring over the garden, a testament to their remarkable comeback from near extinction. Immediately identifiable by the ‘V’ shaped tail they have a wingspan of nearly 2m.  Often opportunistic feeders like buzzards they can easily out-fly the latter but can be just as happy catching insects and worms as larger quarry.

Our robins (Erithacus rubecula) and blackbirds (Turdus merula) continue to be the gardener’s friend and always appear whenever we are digging or turning over the soil.  Robin’s in particular nest early, often as early as January and you can often tell what stage the young are at by what is in their beak.  Moss or twigs mean nest building whilst small insects means the chicks have hatched but are still small. In the blink of an eye they will move onto bigger meals of worms and caterpillars.

Join Us in the Garden 

There is plenty to see here so why not take a drink out onto the terrace to enjoy the May sunshine.

We’ve also got a few spaces left on our Taste of Mid-Summer event where you can join Sarah and I on a walk and talk tour, followed by a delicious seasonal tasting lunch. Click here for more information and to book.

Warm wishes from the Garden Team

Upcoming Events at Goldstone

Friday Garden Tour

May 24 @ 11:00 am - 12:00 pm

Friday Garden Tour

May 31 @ 11:00 am - 12:00 pm

A Taste of Midsummer

June 13 @ 10:30 am - 3:00 pm

Open Garden for NGS

July 10 @ 11:00 am - 5:00 pm

Open Garden for NGS

August 14 @ 11:00 am - 5:00 pm

Visit Goldstone

A Georgian manor house and restaurant with 12 comfortable bedrooms overlooking the rolling tree-strewn hills of the North Shropshire countryside. Boasting 5 acres of award-winning gardens, including a productive one-acre kitchen garden.

Located in the ‘golden garden triangle’ close to Wollerton Old Hall Garden, Hodnet Hall Gardens & Dorothy Clive Garden.  

A warm welcome awaits you.

Find out more about the hotel and garden opening times here.