30 May 2016

Volunteer power.

The Holkham walled Garden project is only possible because of the hard work our volunteers contribute.  One of our volunteers Kate gives us a taste of her time at the Walled Garden.


"I've been volunteering for nearly 18 months now; still a newbie compared with some other volunteers who have witnessed the transformation of the walled gardens from the jungle it was some 5 years ago.

In my time here I have seen and been lucky enough to be part of the team of volunteers improving and developing the gardens under expert guidance. We have come along way and the results, given the limited manpower, are impressive. But there's room, lots of rooms ( the name given to each walled garden) extending over 6 acres, to work on.

At long last we have the weeds under some control and are consequently more free to concentrate on the glorious array of flowers, fruit and veg. Such that at the end of the day I can look back with a certain amount of pride and satisfaction at what we have achieved.

It's lovely when new volunteers join the team, as we have a bit of fun, chatting and having a laugh, whilst managing to work hard, the more volunteers the less weeding we each have to do and the more creative the tasks we get to do!"

12 Mar 2016

New Season.


With a new season fast approaching the walled garden is looking in great shape. Thanks mainly to our immense Volunteer support we have never looked so good at opening time. Kate one of our Volunteers has shared her experiences working in the Walled Garden.





"March already and one day it's Spring the next Winter, fortunately for us it was Spring today and the gardening a real pleasure, especially when working in the sun. I have been volunteering here in the walled garden for over a year and it continues to be a great experience. Every week is different, well apart from the weeding and recently mulching, which is now at an end, hooray. A relief now its done and good knowing it will improve the soil and suppress the weeds; a double whammy. I can't believe how much further on we are than this time last year, in part due to mulching.
Today after some weeding and mulching, of course, 3 of us volunteers planted some gooseberries and over 230 raspberry plants. I'd never planted either before and now feel like an expert as well as exhausted! We were rewarded with the sight of 2 red kites circling overhead, calling to each other, cakes for a much needed sugar rush to keep us going till we completed the task, and a real sense of achievement."

All the best

Kate

20 Jan 2016

Winter wonderland.




Its winter... and although it arrived late it is definitely here, its cold, wet and often frosty.  Its the time of year when the trees reveal their bare structure, our herbaceous plants are in the most part no where to be seen except perhaps for a deceased skeletal reminder of their beauty from a warmer period, very few seedlings are emerging except perhaps some of tougher wild natives, flowers are also few and far between.

Living in the U.K this is the norm and I think it is very easy to take this for granted but have you ever asked why?, why do the trees lose their leaves?, why do herbaceous plants die back?, why aren't seedlings emerging?  Why the lack of flowers?.  I hope the much simplified explanations below help answer some of these questions.

In a temperate climate there is a definite distinction between the hottest summer days and the coldest temperatures that winter has to offer, this has a profound effect on how plants have evolved to deal with this.

Deciduous trees drop their leaves as a survival strategy, having a canopy full of leaves in summer enables the trees to harvest sunlight for food, basic biology 101 right?, leaves however are organs that allow gaseous exchange and are the final step in the movement of water up through a plant (a process called transpiration), in a nut shell water is lost via the leaves and the amount lost is greatly increased during windy periods.  Wind adds a second element of jeopardy in that the combined surface area of all those leaves adds up to a great deal, a few hundred thousand leaves on an average English Oak Quercus robur, while the semi-wind permeable nature of the canopy helps a little it still offers considerable resistance to the wind which translates into stress on the trunk and branch structure.  The result can be damage to the wood of the tree, root damage caused by the rocking motion of the tree or worse still total upheaval of the entire root plate in extreme examples.  Light levels are much reduced this time of year due to the tilt of the earth  in the relation to the sun so the trees are unable to make as much food as they can in the summer when light quality and quantity is much higher.  The conclusion is that it makes sense to drop the canopy, reduce the chance of wind damage during a time when relatively little food can be photosynthesised anyway.  The leaf fall decays at the base of the tree and is taken back into the soil by worms to be made available as nutrients, these nutrients can be taken up by the tree and used to grow leaves once again.

So what about flowers?

To answer this we need to remind ourselves that flowers aren't there for our amusement or to decorate our homes and give a florist a living, they are sexual plant organs which have the sole purpose of facilitating pollination.  In winter insect repellent sales drop through the floor and the all too common image of day trippers frantically trying to swat flying insects as they enjoy a picnic is a distant memory, there just aren't as many insects around.  If you want to spread your genes it makes much more sense to time your flowering period so that it coincides with the correct part of the insect life cycle.  As with trees another limiting factor is light which is required in a good amount to fuel the hugely energy demanding process of flowering and create the pigments that prove attractive to pollinators.

The majority of the plants we have in flower now in the walled garden originate in Asia such as the Chimonmanthus praecox, Cornus mas, Daphne bholua "Jaqueline Postil", Hamamelis spp. and the Viburnum x bodnantense, they have some other common features in that their flowers are all rather small, very mute and washed out in colour and all very aromatic.  This is explained by the need to keep flowers small and robust to avoid wind damage, the colour can be explained by the difficulty to synthesise the necessary plant pigments in the reduced light and heat, this leaves rather inconspicuous flowers that aren't easily detected from any great distance by their pollinators.....at least not visually anyway.  Often the plants listed above along with Edgeworthia chrysantha are often detected via scent before sight, it is this tool that the plant uses to help the pollinators locate the plant until its flowers are more obvious.

Seedlings?

Seedlings and more accurately seeds are a marvel, they enable a mother plant to package away an embryonic plant complete with a packed lunch to give it a start in life (no crippling student loans here), when the seeds germinate they have just enough fuel to unfurl the cotyledons (baby leaves) in the hope they find light and are able to begin to make their own food.  Its an excellent strategy but it is not enough?, if seeds germinated as they dropped from the tree they would surely perish in the winter months while they wait for warmer and lighter seasons to arrive.  Nature has this covered, seeds can be placed in a state of dormancy, this is where the seedling will NOT germinate even if it is placed in favourable temperatures and moisture unless it has first undergone a treatment to remove the dormancy.  This treatment could be as simple as a period of cold, telling the seedling that winter has passed and it now must be spring.  Another form of dormancy employed by Sweet Peas Lathyrus odorata is a physical dormancy which is simply a thick seed coat that stops the seed taking in water and gases until it has sufficiently been degraded by passage through the gut of an animal, frost/thaw, abrasion or a number of other factors.  Plants are surprisingly good at timing the germination of the seedlings and even vary the thickness of the seed coat to stagger germination to avoid an "eggs all in one basket" scenario.  Other types of dormancy exist and can be very complex, this is a result of the need to coincide with the seasons of the locale in which they evolved.

The interesting fact remains that plants evolved nearer to the equator where this seasonal light variation is less pronounced tend to respond more in relation to wet/dry season cycles than the light levels which are more constant.

As gardeners we aren't allowed to go dormant and sit for warmer more favourable weather, it is now that we look at our hard landscaping, work on dormant plants, improve our soils and plan for the season ahead.  Yes its cold and frosty but without this inclement period we wouldn't have the seasonal variation that allows us to witness the growth cycles of the plants and the wildlife that accompanies it, Winter is a time to catch your breath and prepare to hit the ground running as time and nature wait for no man.

16 Nov 2015

Winter is coming.



Watching the walled gardens evolve is a slow but very rewarding process. When we close to the public at the end of October we continue to be just as busy as we are in spring (much to non gardeners amazement), however the type of work we execute is different, it at this time of year we look at.

Lawn care, including scarifying, feeding, aerating and top dressing.

Building works such as path installation, repairs and maintenance (much harder to do safely when our visitors are present)

Pruning of dormant shrubs, climbers, fruit and perennials.

Cleaning and maintenance of glass structures.

Tree work

It is very easy indeed to keep busy through these months and as with anytime of the year a garden is subject to an almost cyclical series of tasks, for example you tend to sow your Tomato seeds, do the first mow, prune the vines and plant the Tulips all at approximately the same time of the year. This is true of any completed garden with the exception of perhaps some new projects or plants to care for. However as Holkham are in the process of rejuvenating the Walled garden we are finding that each year this changes as the project marches onwards.

The first year I was here a lot of time was dedicated to clearing of overgrown shrubs, which allowed room for new projects. In my first full close season we were mainly building paths and beginning our commitment to mulch, this allowed better access to the garden and saved some time in the growing season with less weeding needed in the mulched areas. The second full close season saw us build the last few pathways creating the extension to the veg patch, build a timber education centre and again up the ante on the mulching stakes.

So what does this mean?.

Well now that the majority of the construction is done we can concentrate a little more on plant care, ensuring the entire garden is mulched, renovation pruning of overgrown climbers is completed along with planting some exciting new ones (watch this space). The main benefit however won't be realised until spring and summer, extra time afforded by our mulching programme will allow us for the first time to tie in climbers as they grow, dead head more often and start to edit our borders.

The great thing is that the standard is rising and horticultural tasks that we had to (painfully) ignore and walk past will now have a chance of being completed instead of being ignored because of more pressing matters, which is the nature of a restoration.


The project reaching a much more interesting time is hugely supported by our team of amazing volunteers, subsequently the full time staff are drip feeding the volunteers with the knowledge necessary to progress in the form of short workshops based around horticultural tasks and plant identification sheets.

One of our volunteers Kate, emphasises the flurry or activity still happening behind the scenes.

"A friend of mine thought that as Holkham was now closed until the Spring and that my volunteering in the walled gardens was on hold until then.
How wrong was she! Although there is no requirement to turn up every week and certainly not when it's pouring with rain, this is a busy time of the year in the gardens. We're getting them ready for the Winter and making the most of the fact that the weeds are slowing down. This gave us volunteers time to dead head, tidy and prepare the soil for mulching. We also learnt a bit about hard wood propagation, from the experts.

This week Philip, the Head of Landscapes, had an 'important' birthday. So all the team, gardeners and volunteers got together at lunch time to celebrate with some lovely cakes. So yummy, it's not all hard work, but just enough to justify cake!"


The "Beyond the Walls" project continues at full steam towards our goal of restoring some of the derelict structures and improving our visitor offering, in the interim we aim to have the gardens looking as good as is humanly possible.

11 Oct 2015

Through Different Eyes.


The Holkham Walled Garden blog has had a number of contributors since its inception all of which are trained professional gardeners, however no amount of training experience or endeavour would be enough without the exceptionally valuable contribution of our ever burgeoning team of enthusiastic and friendly volunteers. 

With this in mind we recently asked our Volunteers if they would like to write a guest post.  I'm very pleased to say that not only do the Volunteers help keep on top of the plethora of garden tasks but they also now contribute to our blog, I must confess to being a little worried I shall soon be out of work.

Here is Jim Dowding one of our Longest serving Volunteers telling us about he got involved with the Walled Garden project.

"I was probably destined to become a Horticulturalist.  In the 1940's, even before I started school, I first learnt to take cuttings, train fruit and prune roses.  I even found out ways of combating pests and diseases in plants.  

Having had a career not in Horticulture I decided it was time to get some training in the subject.  I have been a professional gardener for over 20 years now. 

Retiring from full time employment and returning to Wells-next-the-sea I found I missed the companionship I once had so when Holkham advertised for volunteers to help in the garden I thought why not!. 

It was like putting on a pair of comfy slippers and that was over five years ago.  Over that time I have made friends from all walks of life who also volunteer.  Sure we do work but at our own pace, we have a laugh and social interaction with each other and visitors to the garden. 

There are lots of opportunities to learn new techniques from the staff who are a great bunch.

I was one of the best decisions I have ever made to volunteer in the garden I would recommend it to anyone."

Thanks Jim,

Here is a typical day in the life of a volunteer by Kate Chandler who joined us this year.

"Fantastic Autumnal Day. Golden sunshine but chilly in the shade. Lots of visitors and 2 new volunteers.
Today we removed some plants from the cutting flower "room" which are not used as such in the Hall. So for example Montebretia, which we divide and re-plant in another room.

We then have an informal demo on the planting of the bulbs for fox tail lilies,( which look like large spider crabs) before doing so.  If only I'd had that a few weeks ago before I planted the same bulb (which I'd bought at the Holkham Plant Fair) incorrectly!
Sandwiches sitting in the sun chatting with fellow volunteers and an informal lesson on how to take seeds for propagation from soft fruit such as tomatoes and chillies, followed by some dead heading and weeding.
Another lovely day as one of the team of volunteers at Holkham's Walled Garden."
Thanks Kate, I think that's a great description of a typical day.
Holkham walled garden are looking for more volunteers to help continue to raise the standards in the walled garden, so if you think you could spare a morning or a day to help it would be great to hear from you.
Here are just some of reasons to become a Holkham Volunteer.

Socials - Summer BBQ and other events for example our 'Bake off Competition' at the end of the month.

Informal Workshop/Demo's - One of our trained staff talk you through the seasonal gardening tasks, so far we have covered.  Summer Pruning Apples, Semi-ripe cuttings, Seed Saving, Seed Saving (Fleshy Fruits), Seed Sowing, Layering.

Plant of the Week *New* - Due to popular demand (We do listen to our Volunteers) we deliver a plant of the week sheet to help improve our Volunteer plant knowledge.

Gratification Work as part of a friendly enthusiastic team in an 18th century listed walled garden.

Attractive Benefits package.  Including a luncheon voucher amongst may other truly valuable perks.

If you would like to join the team please contact:
Dene Wood d.wood@holkham.co.uk or 07557200311 (please leave a voice mail if I don't pick up as I'm am often out of signal)



29 Sep 2015

Beyond the Walls


Last weekend hosted our annual plant fair, we used our recently planted events room to perfectly frame the 30+ exhibitors stalls.  The range of plants on offer was fantastic with some real inspiration for providing colour in those tricky early autumn months.  The weather was fantastic and no doubt contributed to the record number of visitors since the plant fair started four years ago.


We are very proud to have hosted our first ever PGG meeting this year, the event was very well attendended and involved tours of the Walled Garden, the William Nestfield Parterres and the Arboretum, it was a little nervy inviting a group of fellow professional gardeners round to scrutinse our work but they were very pleasent, encouraging and excited for our project. I hope they can visit again in a few years to see the fruits of our labour and cast their expert eye once more.

Fueled by the passion of our excellent volunteer team and dedicated staff we are gradualy continuing to improve standards and lift the quality of the walled garden from its previously neglected state.  To this end we have reviewed our Volunteer program and hope to make their role even more valuable and rewarding by adding informal horticultural workshops, plant identification and extra social events such as our Halloween themed 'Bake off' set for the end of October.  If you would like to join our friendly committed team please contact Dene Wood d.wood@holkham.co.uk 07557200311 for details.

In the garden we have been very busy deadheading to wring out the last possible splash of colour for our visitors to enjoy and to continue provision of cut flowers for decorating the hall - something we are very proud to do.  Our 2nd room is largely planted with herbaceous perennials which have just had their third full growing season, this tertiary term has promted us to start looking at editing our borders a little, taking the plants that have made a good clump of growth (from their humble 1 litre pot beginnings) and we have been lifting and dividing them to help full gaps and increase in size our drifts of planting.  In the main, we have been dividing plants that flowered early in the season and are now beginning to die back, we will repeat this exercise in late winter / early spring for the late flowering perennials such as Rudbeckia and Asters.

Mulching has been a regular theme in the walled garden, we recognised that our soil was inert, structureless and devoid of life in general this combined with a need to reduce man hours spent weeding spurred us on to a large mulching commitment.  NASA may not have found life on mars yet but our own small scale terraforming seems to be working.

The veg patch is beginning to run out of steam a little but we are still harvesting Beans, Squash, Carrots, Beets, Greens and Celery. Over the coming months we have Leeks, Parsnips, Kale, Broccoli and Cabbage to look forward to.

Our Heritage Lottery bid is also gathering pace since the appointment of our Project Manager Helen Giles. Helen is currently working very hard to ensure we have everything covered to create a successful bid which will be submitted next summer.  This includes organising ecology, historical, access and audience surveys as well as looking for architects and lots of fundraising,
although I'm sure Helen could do a better job explaining this (the next blog post is yours Helen).

We have a new website in development which will give lots of information about the project (named "Beyond the Walls") and new Facebook and Twitter pages which we invite you to like/follow.

At this time of the year the gardens definately take on a new persona with warm bright clear days filling the air with moisture which condenses during the increasingly colder nights, this dew picked up by the lower light levels really adds a strata of romance and drama, this is something noted by our visitors when surveyed over the weekend.  As light levels drop and the nights grow colder we start to say goodbye to the green Chlorophyl painted foliage as it receeds to reveal its lesser known friends Caratene and Anthocyanin which are responisble for the typical autumn colours we see around us offering crimsons and oranges.

Still plenty to do for the team this season with our thoughts now turning to lawn care, bulb planting, sowing half hardy annuals to overwinter, clearing herbaceous material to allow access for mulching and much more so I'd better get back to it!.

Dene Wood
Head of Park and Gardens

18 Jul 2015

Now's the time

If you were ever to visit the walled gardens at Holkham now is the time, our flagship planting in the "second room" is currently in its peak period and must not be missed.  Planted with thousands of herbaceous perennials the garden room is currently a sea of colour and movement.



Since the last post we have planted our events space where we host weddings, open air theatre and our annual plant fair in September. We have tried to use plants in this space that you won't find elsewhere in the garden, this will hopefully give a different ambiance than the typical cottage garden feel found in abundance throghout the rest of the garden.


We continue to produce fresh vegetables and cut flowers to the hall and with the help of our  increasingly valuable volunteers we continue to raise horticultural standards.



The plants in our vineyard march onwards towards their ultimate "Guyot" form which will give us an abundance of grapes in return for relatively low maintenance.


We even managed to find time to thank our team of volunteers for their efforts with an exclusive BBQ in the walled gardens where they work so hard.


We recently employed a new team member in Helen who is our new project manager.  Helen will work on our bid to achieve funding from the Lottery to restore our ageing glasshouses.  This is really exciting as the Walled Gardens project is really gaining momentum.  Exciting times ahead, we will keep you posted.

4 Apr 2015

Great news.

There is so much great news to report in this edition of the blog that it is hard to know where to begin.

The season has very quickly shifted from winter, marked by the clocks going forward the Walled gardens are again open to the public.  It's Easter of course and as school is out for a few weeks the gardens are alive with the sound of children, there is a marked contrast from the slumber of just a few weeks ago and fittingly the place feels alive again.  The Walled gardens are hosting a range of exciting activities including, face painting, story telling, an Easter trail and a "decorate your own tile" activity which collectively forms the verses of Holkhams' very own version of 'English Country Garden'



During the closed months we have been very busy building the last part of the garden, the picture below features the extension of our productive area built by our gardeners, this extra space will allow us to produce much more in terms of soft fruit such as Raspberries, Strawberries and Currants.


However this was not the only building work taking place, our new Education Centre is very nearly ready and a grand reveal shall follow on this blog in the next few weeks.  We are very happy with the (nearly) finished article particularly as it was built with estate sourced wood.  The build was lead by one of our hard working volunteers but fulfilled with the help of a diverse range of people, including gardeners, volunteers, our Chief Education Officer and i may have even seen the Head of Landscapes hammer a nail or two in.


The gardens are starting to perform, this Ribes and Chaenomeles offer an immaculate vernal treat and precede the emergence of leaves on the deciduous shrubs and trees, i like to think of the swelling buds as natures flat packed solar panels which once unfurled will fuel flower and fruit.


The Veg patch is starting to fill up with Peas, Broad Beans and Asparagus all now planted out alongside direct sowings of Beetroot, Carrots and Parsnips.  The next few days will see our chitted early potatoes planted in 6" deep trenches lined with compost.  Elsewhere in the garden we have been pruning last years now dead flower heads from our Hydrangeas, taking Dahlia cuttings and even mowing the grass (on a high cut). 

As the years first consignments of cut flower and foliage are taken to the Hall we are reminded to sow Hardy and Half Hardy annuals indoors, this will help offer a diverse range or colour and form for our florists in the months to come.  eg. Sweet Peas, Sunflowers, Cosmos, Cerinthe, Ammi.

As is customary i save the very best news till last.

I started working at Holkham 2 years ago and during this entire period I have been aware of much preparation, planning, research and really hard work (by people much smarter than I) to hatch a plan.  While the gardens are being rescued there has been hope that we could also pull our derelict glasshouses out of their current state of bad repair, improve the customer facilities and create a purpose built Education Centre to help us engage with the local community and youngsters.  We are very pleased to announce that we were recently granted stage one funding by the Heritage Lottery Fund.  This means our proposal has jumped the first hurdle and very much gives us cause for optimism in our hope to achieve stage two and realise our dream. There could be very exciting times ahead.

23 Feb 2015

Winter Hues

Snowdrops Galanthus nivalis.


You have to look a little harder or follow your nose but even in the winter colour and interest can be found in the garden.

I've not met many people who do not like the Snowdrops and now is the time to appreciate them.  Up and down the country Galanthophiles swam to attend Snowdrop walks in hope of seeing rare specimens (the likes of which sell for hundreds of pounds for a single bulb), personally i love to see them en-masse carpeting the woodland floor taking advantage of the ephemeral break in the canopy above.


Camellia japonica

Evergreen plants provide important structure to many a garden design and we wouldn't be without them.  I must however confess that Camellias (as classy as the deep green glossy leaves are) tend to get forgotten until they take centre stage.  Our Camellia ("R.L Wheeler" perhaps?) is now studded with the watercolour red flowers and buds pictured above.

Radish seedling emerging (Raphanus sativus)

If there is one thing that helps me shake the winter blues it's the thought of growing produce after a much more restrained and limited period of cultivation.  Under glass we have been sowing Salad leaves, Spring Onion, Radish, Summer Cabbage, Summer Cauliflower, Broad Beans and Early Peas (rounded seed can be sowed earlier than wrinkle seeded varieties)

Peach Blossom ( Prunus persica)

Under glass we grow our crop of Peaches and already one or two of the swelling buds have broken to produce these stunning, simple, pure flowers.  We like to give mother nature a hand with the pollination by leaving open doors for insects as well as transferring pollen from flower to flower every day with a paintbrush.


Just inches from the Peaches our heated beds are warming the feet of our mother Dahlia plants, in a few weeks we will be able to take cuttings which will vastly increase our stock and grow onto to provide stunning colour in late summer.

The jobs in the garden are starting to come thick and fast, Parsnips and Turnips will soon be sowed, Figs, Hydrangeas and Peaches will be pruned and while the Pototoes are Chitting we will be planting Onion sets and Garlic.  There is light at the end of the tunnel and as the days begin to stretch winter will soon be a distant memory along with the Camellias.

8 Feb 2015

Mulching



The Heavily fragrant Edgeworthia chrysantha var. grandiflora, leaves us in anticipation of the delights it has in store for us. 

With 6 and a half acres of Walled garden we are very privileged to have a huge growing footprint, this abundance of space allows us to grow every thing from the rarest shrub from deepest Asia, to the ubiquitous Onion.  However there is a caveat.  By creating clement growing conditions, water, shelter and food we also invite "Volunteer plants" (a polite term for weeds).  Ive mentioned before that not all volunteer plants are bad (see the Wildflower post), a self seeding Digitalis can be an absolute delight.

One of the best ways to combat annual weed is to use a mulch, covering the soil surface with a 3 or 4 inch layer of organic material to exclude the light and limit annual seed germination. 

You can mulch with a lot of different materials including inert gravels, crushed glass and even plastic sheeting, but in many cases its better to use a well rotted organic matter, such as manure or compost.

Its easiest to mulch your beds when your plants are not in their full glory, a great time is in autumn perhaps after a tidy up in your herbaceous borders and when the vegetable patch starts to empty out.

This Daphne sp. brings welcome colour with its scent, a real treat in midwinter.



How to use a mulch effectively.


1.  Prepare the site, remove all perennial weeds such as Thistles, Dandelion, Couch grass etc.  These persistent plants will happily grow through your mulch.  You can get away with using a hoe for the smaller annual weeds.  Make sure the site is both frost free and moist, you don't want to trap frost or a dry strata within your mulch.

2.Cover the open soil uniformly to a depth of 3 to 4 inches or 10cm.  You could apply a layer or two of newspaper to the surface before adding your chosen surface material to make the process extra effective.

3.Avoid dropping the mulch into the crowns of evergreen plants such as Kniphofia spp.  Rake level.

By mulching now we shall reap the benefits later in the season and weed control should be much less challenging at our busiest time.  Other benefits to mulching include.

  • Make soil more moisture retentive
  • Helps warm the soil.
  • Improves soil structure.
  • Increases bio mass/diversity within the soil.
  • Looks great aesthetically.
  • Adds nutrients to soil.

We always try to be sustainable where possible and to that end we use a Bio Digestate to mulch with, this is obtained as a by product from the estate Bio Digesters used to generate energy.

 Another source of organic material comes via our relationship with London Zoo who trade their herbivore waste for a supply of Quercus ilex brash used to feed their Giraffes.

Here one of our hard working Volunteers Ted applies a Zebra manure, he joked that we "might get stripey roses", we shall have to wait and see.