Monthly garden update: April

Garden Manager Andrew looks for ways to brighten the grounds during the April showers.

Wet weather and me don’t make good bedfellows. Fortunately I don’t suffer with ‘seasonal affective disorder’ but continuous grey, miserable weather does literally put a dampener on things outside! My high hopes and work/project schedules sink away if the weather has other plans, and that’s certainly happened over the last few weeks. It is true that you cannot control Mother Nature; you must learn to adapt and develop a forgiving outlook.

Hoping for more sunny moments this spring

New additions to the Elizabeth Blackwell herb garden

Still, there has been much to be cheerful about despite the rain clouds. One job I was very pleased to achieve was the installation of new Holly bushes in the Elizabeth Blackwell herb garden. I was recently invited to look round a fantastic private garden nearby in which the owner has collected varieties of Hollies over the years. Inspired by what I had seen, I decided to look for a reason to plant some of our own. I had space in the skin beds of the herb garden and I discovered that Blackwell had included the use of Hollies for swellings. She recommended that you took slivers of bark from a Holly bush and included them in a salve to be applied directly on the swelling and held in place by bandage. I needed no further excuse…we now have thirteen Hollies of two varieties in a skin bed!

More sunflowers please!

To counter the dull weather, we have been busy sowing lots of Sunflower seeds in anticipation of glorious showy flowers later in the summer. We are growing a few different varieties this year to have at various points in the walled garden. They are great for our Honey bees whilst in flower and if I leave the seed heads on then the birds will appreciate them in the autumn and winter months…

“The last phase is the most glorious”

What’s in our poly tunnel?

Our poly tunnel is proving its use as we are now growing on small plug plants – too small for direct planting into the ground but brilliant value if you can grow them on under cover as we are doing. There are Lupins, Cosmos, Lobelias and Geraniums – all very happy in the protected environment…as long as we remember to water and care for them! They are all white flowering varieties and shall be on display in our white garden on the Library Terrace within the next few weeks.

The inside of the poly tunnel

Tulips from… Chawton!

The garden has been putting on a good show of colour recently with plenty of Daffodils around the grounds and within the Rose garden the Tulips have appeared and offer a bright splash of red to invite visitors to explore. Anytime now we will be admiring the wonderful sight of thousands of Bluebells throughout the Wilderness and in the woodlands – all of ours are the English variety. If I see any Spanish invaders (Bluebells of course) I remove them to avoid hybridisation.

A splash of colour

I have also been busy organising events, and one I am very excited about is our first collaboration with the wonderful New Forest hotel, Chewton Glen. On Monday 18th June they are offering guests an organised day starting with a two-course brunch at the hotel followed by a coach trip to Chawton House where I will welcome everyone and lead a garden tour. Guests will then have the opportunity to explore the house and have refreshments as part of the package before the return coach trip to the hotel. Tickets can be purchased through Chewton Glen on their website under the ‘what’s on’ section.

As the weather warms up (and hopefully dries up!) I look forward to welcoming more visitors to the garden and talking about our work and plans…our next project is to introduce Chickens to the walled garden, but more on that in my next blog! Until next time…


Garden Manager