by anne chambers

My first entry about the goings on in the garden at Kiftsgate!

Both months were remarkably mild especially compared to last years icy temperatures so work in the garden was able to proceed without interruption.

I ordered a large amount of bulbs from Avon Bulbs who although slightly more expensive are well worth the price. Luckily my son Patrick was at home as I find planting in long grass very hard work and not good for the back. Bulb planting is not one of my favourite jobs but tulips especially add so much to the borders in early May when the herbaceous plants are still just emerging and one needs some height and colour. I keep groups of the same variety together, so for example Tulip Ballerina goes into the Yellow border, where its tangerine colour looks great with the acid green of the euphorbias in May.

This is the time for the tree surgeon to visit. During the summer Johnny and I make a note of all the branches, hedges or trees that need attention. It is essential to keep an eye on growth and lack of light especially on the steep banks where it is difficult enough for plants to get established and the radiata pines block any sunlight that might get through.

In the kitchen garden where the nursery is situated we demolished two very old greenhouses which had been there since I was a child and replaced them with a Keder greenhouse. Although not a thing of beauty it is very practical being made of very strong bubble wrap (I’m not sure Mr Keder would call it that!) It is heated by electric blowers so not only has the mist propagator been moved here but also all the tender plants that we use in our terracotta pots and in the garden.

Philip and Tina our gardeners start ‘putting the garden to bed’ in October. We always begin by pruning the roses in the rose border. These are mostly the old fashioned roses which we try to arrange into different shapes over iron and bamboo hoops and always prune very hard. Then everything is cut to the ground and the border dug over removing all weeds as we go.

During the week before Christmas Johnny and Patrick go down to the wood in the Park to find and cut a Christmas tree for the house. The fir trees there have now all grown far too big so it is quite difficult to select the perfect tree. This year we just used the top eighteen foot of a sixty foot tree so getting it up from the Park by tractor and upright in the hall was quite an undertaking! However it looked magnificent and smelt delicious, I really miss it in January.