by anne chambers
Perhaps it is my memory lapsing but I cannot remember such a wonderful spring! Really warm temperatures and no frost so the magnolias were magnificent and everything has burst out almost three weeks early. We now need a little rain but as it is Easter weekend it can wait until next week.
The bluebells are unusually early and looking stunning. They will nearly be over by the beginning of May when they should just be starting.
Not a daffodil left but again they flowered brilliantly, in fact everything has performed above and beyond to make this spring so special.
This year I planted a new variety of tulip in the pots called Purple Dream and as you can see it is looking lovely.
Some of the other tulips are not as tall as normal but I am putting this down to the lack of rain. The ballerina tulips in the yellow border have flowered again from last year which is very encouraging as so many come up blind in their second year.
As I mentioned earlier in my diary we pruned the roses extra hard this year and you will see from the photo how we train them into different shapes with iron and wooden structures.
I went to an excellent lecture at The Gardens Illustrated weekend at Westonbirt and heard Troy Scott Smith head gardener at Sissinghurst give a talk about all the roses that they have replanted and replaced there. He was saying that they too use this same system to “pull” the new growth down horizontally to increase the number of flowers.
Just a reminder that the season ticket at £22.00 is an excellent way of seeing the garden throughout the season and by May we will be open five days a week.
by Anne Chambers
Only a few days till our opening at the beginning of April and quite a few last minute jobs to be done before we are completely ready for another season.
As it was raining today I tackled the shop which I emptied in October and stored away over winter. A mass of large boxes have been delivered over the past weeks with all the new stock so it was rather like Christmas, unpacking all the items, pricing them and then re arranging in our tiny space ready for opening.
I had a very enjoyable day out listening to Sarah Raven talking about her cutting garden at Perch Hill. A completely different kind of gardening to here but still learnt a lot especially about annuals and dahlias. I had no idea there were so many varieties, shapes and colours of dahlias and came away with a selection from her pop up shop to experiment in a dahlia bed in the kitchen garden. It is always stimulating to get new ideas and at the same time be supporting an excellent charity, the Gynaecological cancer fund Lady Gardener Campaign.
The garden is really moving now with the daffodils out and leaves appearing on the trees. The armandii clematis around the small pond in the lower garden is flowering spectacularly after our relatively mild winter. I love this time of year with all the promise of things to come and the evenings getting lighter.
Talking of things to come, I have been pollinating the apricot and nectarine trees in the greenhouses with a rabbit’s tail. This is a really old fashioned pastime but very effective for a bumper crop in the summer. The blossom is so pretty and at this time of year bees are scarce so it just helps ensure success. There is nothing better than a home grown apricot or nectarine warm from the tree, something again to look forward to!
We have cut over all the penstemons and am just about to prune the summer flowering ceanothus and tender buddleija crispa. There are paths to be swept and this year in particular with the high winds the leaves have been particularly abundant and seem to get everywhere.
Expectations are high for a wonderful gardening year and am much looking forward to welcoming our first visitors on April 2nd.
by ANNE CHAMBERS
Home again after a wonderful break in the sunshine; warmth on the skin and no thoughts of gardening!
I visited the RHS Spring Show in London last week for the first time in years and much enjoyed the intimate atmosphere and displays of spring bulbs. Some excellent nurseries were displaying including my favourite lily nursery H.W. Hyde and Son. Also Avon Bulbs with a vast array of snowdrops with price tags to match! I fell for some reticulate irises and a beautiful new hellebore called Ice Cream which is now planted by our front door.
Robert our son has taught himself (with help from the internet!) the basics of dry stone walling. He has started on an old wall that had collapsed surrounding our log yard and any weekend he is home will find him there. A public footpath runs alongside the wall and walkers and well-wishers stop to give encouragement and advice. Apparently the most common bon-mot is ‘once picked, never to put down a piece of stone until a place has been found for it in the wall’. Great progress has been made and rather like a jigsaw it is all coming together.
I visited my first NGS garden this year on Sunday at nearby Stretton on Fosse. A lovely mild weekend and lots of people out and about. My good friend Penny has created a wonderful winter garden which was looking stunning and full of interest and colour. The scent from her daphne Jacqueline Postill was fantastic and filled the air, surrounded by hellebores and early spring bulbs. A real treat and very clever to have so much to see so early in the season.
We are busy preparing for another season too. The swimming pool has been re-painted, the tree surgeon has been and gone and the large terracotta pots have been unwrapped to reveal the tulips poking through the soil .Everything is on the move, as must we!
by Anne Chambers
A very Happy New Year to everyone. We had a busy Christmas with five children under four years old staying so as you can imagine lots of noise and fun!
Now into January which so far has been damp and grey with the occasional hard frost but no snow so far. We did a count of all the flowers in the garden on New Year’s Day (see photo) but were slightly dismayed to see in the newspaper that on Tresco in the Isles of Scilly they had over three hundred plants in bloom! We could only manage around twenty.
We worked off our Christmas excess by digging up brambles in the bluebell wood, luckily a sunny dry cold period, but as it faces south we were stripped down to our shirtsleeves even at this time of year. It is amazing how they grow each year even though it is an annual chore, but worth it as otherwise they would choke all the bluebells which are spectacular in May.
We are off to warmer climes next week as have been asked by some friends to their house in the Caribbean, very spoiling and am looking forward to some warmth and recharging our batteries ready for another season.
The gardeners are progressing well with the pruning and digging over of the borders and are just about to tackle the steep banks which are covered with pine needles after the gales. The pines are magnificent but they do have the drawback of the needles which seem to scatter themselves everywhere at this time of year.
Hopefully by the time we return the snowdrops will be out and the evenings that little bit lighter so we will be on the run up to Spring.