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July 14, 2014 / Apley Estate - Hamiltons

Apley Walled Garden tour, Tuesday 15 July

2014-07-10, Graham Podmore, Shifnal Society tour (2) 2014-07-10, Graham Podmore, Shifnal Society tour (3)2014-07-10, Graham Podmore, Shifnal Society tour (1) compressedIf you enjoy Apley Walled Garden produce, you may be interested to meet our Head Gardener Phil Allen & tour the gardens.  Especially for July, we are holding one of our last Apley Walled Gardens Open Tours, mid-month, on Tuesday 15 July. If you’re interested, please call or email our Head Gardener Phil on 07746 01 30 50 or the or call the Farm Shop office on 01952 730 345 (option 6) or email Rebecca on  Here are some photos taken from a recent tour by the Shifnal Society to give you a taster.

Meet Phil & Rebecca (our new Marketing Assistant) at the Farm Shop cash till at 10am, pay £5 per person, then drive in convoy to the gardens, in as few cars as possible due to our very limited parking. The tour runs 10h30-11h30 & you’ll be back at the Shop by noon. If you would like to finish with lunch in the Creamery, please book this at 10am with the Café manager, before you leave.

At Apley, during the warmer Summer months, you can now have Apley Walled Garden vegetables direct from the garden via our chiller room to your fridge, in very little time & with very few food miles. To ensure your vegetables last as long as possible, you can request to have whatever you see in the Shop grocery display baskets, from our chiller room (subject to availability of course !).

July 13, 2014 / Apley Estate - Hamiltons

Icecream Sundae, Classic Car Funday – next Sunday at Apley Farm Shop

(05) 29th September 2012 2014-07-08, Panther Kallista 1983

It’s only a week away now until Icecream Sundae & Classic Car Funday at Apley Farm Shop. On Sunday 20 July, we will have a display of classic cars including an MGB Roadster, a 1983 Panther Kallista, a Rover P6 3500 & a a yellow MG Midget fresh off the tracks with 1st & 2nd recent racing prizes.

The Shropshire schools break up at the end of next week, so it’s a lovely way to start the Summer holidays on a Sunday afternoon – with icecream, fun activities for the children & interesting cars to admire in the beautiful Shropshire countryside which surrounds our Farm Shop. 

As well as the classic car display, there will be a juke box, Summer drinks, local Hobsons’ Shropshire beers (they make Apley Ale for us) & a barbecue in the Courtyard, looking prettier than ever with hanging baskets by Phil Allen. The children will be easily entertained with the fairground games, a bouncy castle, trailer & donkey rides, face painting & even a Punch & Judy show.

If you can’t get to the seaside this Summer, you will almost feel you’re there with our icecreams & donkeys. And if an element of your ideal Summer is a tranquil country picnic, bring a basket, fill it with Apley Farm Shop picnic ingredients & take it round the Skylark Nature Trail where there are occasional benches – unless of course you bring a picnic rug.

To help you really unwind & have a relaxed Sunday, Jonquil Keen will be offering 10 minute hand & arm massages in Elizabeth Beckett’s Skincare shop in the courtyard. 

Especially for the day, two Shropshire icecream suppliers, Bennett’s Farm of Worcester & Churchfield’s Farmhouse of Droitwich will be present on the day, 10-4pm, offering free tasters of their farm-produced icecreams, as well as selling tubs & cones. Visitors can even have a go at creating their own icecream flavour & choose from a variety of sauces to go with their ice-creams, plus different toppings.

The event will run 10-5pm, but the shop closes at 4pm on Sundays. Parking & entry is free.


July 12, 2014 / Apley Estate - Hamiltons

Hawthorn House fragrances & candles at Apley Farm Shop

2014-07-08, Hawthorn House products

Elizabeth Beckett Skincare, in Apley Farm Shop’s courtyard, is now stocking Hawthorn House fragrances & candles, handcrafted locally at Pattingham, on the Shropshire/Staffordshire border.

Founded by Tami Murray, Hawthorn House creates & captures beautiful bouquets, by combining interesting & often unusual ingredients which are blended to create unique fragrances.

Her publicity states: “Her love of all things British has been a great inspiration – an English rose garden, summer rain dampening freshly cut grass & afternoon tea are amongst the much loved heritage that has found its place in this timeless collection. Taking such powerful, memory evoking scents & pairing them with exquisite ingredients, has resulted in a range of versatile products that not only smell truly beautiful in your home and on your skin, but infuse and energise your soul.”

That sounds as if it’s worth popping in to have a look & smell ! I’m sure her products would be lovely to have in your own home or would make much appreciated presents, when going for dinner or visiting friends for a weekend.

For more information, go to or email Tami on or call her on 01902 700821.

July 11, 2014 / Apley Estate - Hamiltons

Apley bridge renovations continue

2014-07-02, Apley Bridge renovationsBridge repairs 2014All the boards & bearers are being removed to allow the inspection, cleaning, preparing & re-painting of Apley Bridge which after 109 years (built in 1905) is beginning to show its age.

All the deck boards will be replaced as part of this work & those which aren’t too broken or rotten will be re-used in Apley Walled Garden for raised beds & edging of beds.

The bearers, most of which are split (they’re no good if they are split as they won’t grip a nail) or rotten or both, will also be replaced. Those which are in good condition will be kept as spares or used as kerbing on the bridge after the estate team has put a chamfer along the long side.

The bridge is closed to all traffic – whether on foot, bicycle or vehicle – until further notice and is, in any event, always a private bridge with no public access.


July 10, 2014 / Apley Estate - Hamiltons

Ever tried Quilling ?

Andrea GothamShropshire is brimming with all types of talented crafters. Last weekend, on Sunday 6 July, visitors to Apley Farm Shop’s monthly craft fair were treated to quilling demonstrations by Andrea Gotham.

Quilling uses the traditional art of rolling paper around a needle tool. Work using this skill has been found in monasteries to decorate religious pictures. It was practiced by accomplished ladies in the Victorian era & has even had a mention in a Jane Austen book. Andrea uses the traditional methods but put a contemporary elegant touch bringing paper filigree or quilling back to life, it’s been far too long forgotten.

If you’d like to know more or try this yourself, you can contact Andrea Gotham on or 07956 41 57 33. As soon as I can confirm August’s craft fair demonstrator, I will write about it here.

July 9, 2014 / Apley Estate - Hamiltons

EKO Sleepover 28-29 August 2014

Last year’s EKO (Educating Kids Outdoors) sleepover was so popular, it’s been run again 28-29 August. All details are below. Our children love sessions  with EKO, den building, camp fires, bush craft. Just bring your pyjamas, a sleeping bag & suitable clothes according to the weather forecast ! It’s £25 per child & is suitable for ages 6-13. Bookings are being taken through Pigg’s Playbarn (isn’t that every child’s dream, to sleep in a playbarn !) on or by calling 01952 730 345. I can personally vouch for EKO & that this is will be a great way to end the Summer holidays, whatever the weather- they will have a great time !

EKO Sleepover Final August 2014

July 8, 2014 / Apley Estate - Hamiltons

Teachers’ presents – Apley Farm Shop hampers

For our teachers’ presents this year, I’ve put together some Apley Farm Shop hampers – actually I’ve filled a hessian bag, which is so useful when the contents have been eaten !

2014-07-07, teacher's leavers present £30 AFS hamperAll the parents contributed £2 per child & with 20 children in class, that gave enough to compile a delicious £40 selection. You can obviously select whatever you wish or buy a voucher so the teachers can come & choose for themselves. I put in Wenlock Edge saucisson, Frank’s luxury biscuits, Appleby’s Cheshire cheese, Lord Hamilton’s sloe gin, Nibble Ems (sweets from Market Drayton), Peter’s Yard crackers, Hobsons’ Apley ale, the Ludlow nut company macadamia nuts, Louis Barnett’s dark chocolate & Mike’s Homemade Shropshire pickle.

We do the same when we go to stay with friends, but add the most unusual vegetables from Apley Walled Gardens too, such as our Purple Majesty potatoes.

July 7, 2014 / Apley Estate - Hamiltons

Apley Walled Garden vegetables

2014-07-05, Apley Walled Garden pine trees felled

Cucumber AWGApley Walled Garden vegetables are essential in any Summer picnic in this lovely weather we’re having. We took some to the school speech & sports day on Saturday, along with local strawberries, cream & meringues by Merangz which are truly something else (soft inside, crispy outside, delicious flavours & they just look so amazing too).

The Walled Garden veg sold very well last Saturday at the Shrewsbury Food Festival last weekend. 2014-07-03 Walled Garden Display 1These are our ridged cucumbers (Femspot variety), are perfect for you Pimms Cocktail – with mint from our herb garden in the farm shop courtyard.

Help yourself & take the bunch to any of the herbs (great when freshly cut on your salads) to be weighed at the cash till.

I took the children riding in Apley Park on Saturday night, to try out some new jumps. We parked by the huge log piles of about 30 Norway Spruce trees (possibly originally planted as Christmas trees) which have been felled from the Walled Garden’s shelter belt. They fell like dominoes in storms in February. They will be replanted with native hardwood trees. It was a blissful evening, apart from the flies swarming in the woods, attracted to the ponies.

July 6, 2014 / Apley Estate - Hamiltons

Gardening tips for July, by Apley’s Head Gardener

2014-05-29, AWG by Corinna (15)Gardening tips for July, by Apley’s Head Gardener, Phil Allen

July is usually one of the driest months (fingers crossed for some sun) so a lot of time may be spent watering. You can reduce water loss & save yourself some time by preventing water loss. A good method for this is to hoe. This not only kills the weeds but breaks up the top of the soil, stopping water from being drawn to the surface by capillary action & evaporating.

Your potatoes should be ready to harvest now so when you do, take care to remove all the tubers. Any left will not only sprout next year & become a weed, but will also be a reservoir for disease & potato blight spores. It’s often worth forking over a few days after harvesting potatoes because more seem to miraculously appear.


There are still quite a few things you can sow in July: Spring cabbage, chicory, Chinese cabbage, Kohl rabi, lettuce, peas, French beans, beetroot, carrots & radishes.

Planting Out

If they’ve not gone out yet, it’s time to plant out your leeks. Just dib a hole about 150mm / 6″ deep & drop the leek into the hole. Water it in & the job’s done. Don’t follow old advice about trimming the tops & roots as that has no beneficial effect & is probably harmful. You don’t need to fill the holes with soil as enough will wash in from watering them & rainfall. The reason you plant in a hole is to blanch the stem.


Keep your tomato sideshoots in check as you want tomatoes not masses of foliage. Also ensure they are watered regularly as drying out prevents the plant from taking up sufficient calcium & the deficit causes blossom end rot. Don’t forget to feed your tomatoes as well. We demand a lot from them & need to keep them well fed. It’s a good idea to give your maincrop potatoes a feed as well. A major cause of poor potato crops is poor nutrition. They are a very greedy plant & a boost now will pay a dividend in tubers. A feed balanced as for tomatoes is ideal. Homemade feed using comfrey is ideal.


Many fruits are ready to harvest or swelling. Swelling fruit requires a lot of water so ensure they have enough. July is a good month for summer pruning apple trees.

General Tasks

Keep on top of the pests. Aphids & blackfly are a particular problem. You can control them with pesticides or just wash them off many plants with a strong jet of water. A wash with soft soap will do no harm to the plants & will reduce numbers. Keep an eye on your brassicas for butterfly eggs and caterpillars – these will most probably be under the leaves. Pick or wash them off before they dine on your dinner.

Fruit of the month – Strawberry

As Wimbledon will be coming to its final & bringing a new champion during the beginning of this month, it’s all about the strawberry.

Although the best tasting strawberries are British, the first garden strawberry was grown in France during the late 18th century. Before this, wild strawberries & cultivated selections from wild strawberry species were the common source of the fruit.

It’s good to remember the more water & sun they have, regardless of variety, the better they taste. This is often the problem with imported strawberries as they are picked, packed & shipped before they reach maturity & this badly effects flavour.

Beware, because around 200 species of pests are known to attack strawberries both directly & indirectly, so make sure you’re vigilant & keep a close eye when watering !

PS. I love this photo of lettuces taken by Corinna, Lady Hamilton of Dalzell, my mother in law. It shows the fresh rain on the leaves, making it look so fresh, clean & natural.


July 5, 2014 / Apley Estate - Hamiltons

The summer holidays are nearly here

2014-07-01, Francis in Porchester Square with sprinkler2014-06-21, riding in Apley Park (2)People very often kindly ask how our children are & looking back at my blog recently, I noticed I’ve hardly mentioned them. Thankfully, they’re all really well & looking forward to the long summer holidays. We’ve had such a lovely June, I’m quite hopeful of the kind of summer I remember having when I was their age (but I mustn’t speak too soon !).

Sybilla (13) & Octavia (13) start at a new school in September. Venetia (nearly 9) & Francis continue at their London schools, where we cycle everywhere (Francis on a trailer bike) & hardly use the car, which is bliss. When home, all the girls ride as much as possible & when at school do almost every sport you can think of. They play the piano & violin & all speak French with our au pair – though they’ll hopefully be building up their Spanish a bit more this Summer. Francis occasionally mentions he’d like to ride our smallest pony, but hasn’t yet shown much interest ! He’s still more into balls, books & trains.

I have taken some lovely photos recently, a couple shared here, of the lovely sunsets, of the children on warm early summer evenings, blissful times with their ponies, late evening rides, the hosepipe on the slide & the sprinkler in the park before school.



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