Furzey Gardens describes itself as ‘a haven of peace and tranquillity’ and that’s just about right because I think on the wettest bank holiday I can remember we were just about the only group of people visiting. It had been planned some weeks ago and being very much of the ‘there’s no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothes’ school of thought I wasn’t going to be thrown off by a ‘bit’ of rain. Especially because this has been on my visiting wish list ever since it won a gold medal at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show in 2012 with it’s very first entry. When looking for a garden somewhere in The New Forest to meet my chum Annie and her children I put a call out on twitter, with one or two exceptions Furzey was the response, so it was game on.
Planted in 1922, it’s an informal space, with a myriad of pathways meandering away from the original sixteenth century cottage and kitchen garden down to a lake full of lillies and through the woodland. As might be expected in such a setting the planting is mainly trees and shrubs that have been chosen to provide colour and interest throughout the year. Azaleas and Rhododendrons in spring, bluebells, cyclamen and narcissus, through to autumn where the beautiful, warm fire shades of red and orange from the foliage take over. Dotted around the gardens are shelters, child appealing tree houses and a bug barn all with ‘Furzey thatching’. If you look carefully there are even fairy doors to be found. The Chelsea garden is also recreated here. It’s all rather magical.
Whilst being a beautiful space what also makes this garden really special is that it is run by the Furzey Gardens Charitable Trust part of the larger Minstead Training Trust. The trust provides residential care and horticultural training to adults with learning disabilities and its students work within the gardens and nursery gaining horticultural experience and craft skills. These crafts are sold in the gift shop and plants that they will have raised can be bought from the nursery.
A little bit of enchantment set right in the heart of the New Forest
Minstead is just outside of Lyndhurst. The location map can be found here.
Opening Times and Prices
Gardens open daily from 10am to 6pm all year round.
The Gallery Gift and Coffee Shop is open from 1st March to the end of October. Daily from 10am to 5pm. Last orders for refreshments are 4.15pm.
Prices and Donations
Entrance to the nursery, gift and coffee shop is free.
Entrance to the Gardens is by set minimum donation of :
Children (ages 4-16) £4.00
Children under 4 are free
Family ticket (2 adults and 3 children) £19.50
Disabled visitor and helper free
Annual “Furzey Friends” Membership £49.50 (member and up to 3 guests).
All other information can be found here.
If you’d like to read more about the work of the Minstead Training Trust you can do so here
What happened to summer? I don’t know what the temperatures are like with you but here it’s definitely more mid September than August and despite the sunshine I’ve already had to delve into the sweater drawer.
The tomatoes have slowed right down and although grateful that they can be picked as and when I want, I’m now concerned that not everything will have the time it needs to become ripe. Jono, who writes the blog Real Men Sow, has the same problem and the RHS recommended via their twitter account that a feed of potassium might help, though not to exceed the suggested dose in case the flavour is affected. So I’m guessing we’re not alone.
Some of the chillies and the bell peppers that are in pots I’m now considering moving back into the green house because if the tomatoes are slow these are at a complete standstill. There’s plenty of fruit but it’s staying resolutely green.
On a brighter note we have plenty of sweetcorn, as many runner beans as we can eat and I’ve ‘discovered’ some ‘Minicole’ cabbages that we planted months ago on the new plot and forgot about. Given the benign neglect, they’re looking rather splendid.
The last couple of weeks have been about housekeeping on the plot and this weekend will be no exception. I wrote about tidying up the strawberries in the last post and it’ll be the lavender next. Bob removed the flower heads from his plants earlier this week and the smell throughout the site was heavenly, so this is one job I’m really looking forward to. Less appealing is the inevitable green house tidy and pot wash.
My thoughts of course are now turning to the next season and for the first time I’m planning a big autumn planting around vegetables, salad crops and bulbs. Plenty to be getting on with.
Thank you as ever for reading.
The drill with the strawberry bed goes something like this; strawberries grow and ripen, we all say hooray, strawberries get eaten and we move onto the next thing, leaving the plants to their own devices until next March when it occurs that the bed really should be tidied if we expect to get a crop. I apologise now if that’s not you but I have to hold my hands up and say guilty.
The life of a strawberry plant stands at three to four years and then it should be replaced. The choice is; to do without fruit for a year while the new plants establish, run two beds side by side, if you have ample space or as Mark Diacono very sensibly suggests in his book in his River Cottage Handbook – Fruit, to replace one third of the plants every year, which will keep you in berries and also spread any cost.
I’m now at this stage and want to follow Mark’s advice. What it does mean however is that some of the plants will go into a fifth year, so time to mend my ways. The beginning of the flowers for next years crop develop in the crowns in July and August and they need some attention. Any straw and weeds should be removed and the old leaves removed with shears or secateurs taking care not to damage the crown or any new leaves. The process is called defoliation. Water the bed if it’s dry and give it a feed, I’ve used Tomorite but comfrey tea is also good. Then mulch the plants well.
I did this a couple of weeks ago and the photographs show the plants this week. I am also removing any runners and new blossom that has formed to keep the strength in the existing crown.
Here’s hoping for a bumper crop next year.
If you do this already I’d love to know how it’s worked for you or if you work in a different way perhaps you’d be kind enough to tell me in the comments.