Wednesday, 8 January 2020

January in the Garden

The seasonal cleaning mission starts long before spring has sprung at Borde Hill Garden and it’s all hands on deck.

What we get up to this month is very much in the hands of the weather, but can range from dispersing worm casts from lawns in drier conditions, to turf repairs if it’s suitably mild. If it’s still chilly, (which is fairly likely), it’s important we make sure all the greenhouse heaters are in working order too. The glass must also be checked, to make sure as much light as possible is being let in on these shorter days. 

If conditions do turn out to be frosty, we must be extra vigilant not to walk on icy grass, as this can cause burn or scorch marks. Whereas if we’re not frozen or waterlogged, ground conditions will be suitable for established deciduous trees and shrubs to be moved. 

Elsewhere, regardless of the conditions we’ll be inspecting stored dahlia and begonia tubers for signs of fungal rot, and taking hardwood cuttings of Cornus and Salix.

We’ll also remove old and diseased hellebore leaves and continue with all the regular tidying and weeding of beds that happens year-round.

Beyond that any vacant plots will be dug, while in terms of planting we’ll be putting in bare root deciduous hedging plants and bare root roses. Like we said, no resting on our laurels around here.  

What to look out for in the garden this month 
Lonicera x purpusii ‘Winter Beauty’
Sarcococca spp
Chimonanthus praecox
Prunus x subhirtella ‘Autumnalis’
Daphne bholua ‘Jacqueline Postill’
Cornus mas
Iris unguicularis var. angustifolia
Abeliophyllum distichum

Friday, 6 December 2019

December in the Garden

The weather can’t seem to make its mind up at the moment, but at Borde Hill Garden we’re well-prepared for any circumstance. The greenhouses all have heaters for days when the cold bites, and special vents that can be opened up on milder days. It’s the plant equivalent of a smart heating system – except in this case the smart ones are our dedicated team of gardeners, who are always one step ahead of the conditions. 

Elsewhere the leaves are a job that needs constant attention at this time of year, and we’ll be clearing them from lawns and borders throughout the month. If the weather decides to gift us with a short warmer spell, we’ll also then mow the lawns to keep them looking neat and tidy. 

We retain perennial stems for wildlife to nibble at, or for winter interest, but where that’s not the case, we’ll finish cutting them all back this month. 

Similarly, we’ll be out pruning acers, birches and vines. We do this now rather than later to avoid them bleeding, which can damage the health of the plant.

It’s now also the right time for hardwood cuttings to be taken, in preparation for next season. On the planting front we will focus on deciduous trees and shrubs if the ground isn’t too frozen, and we’ll continue to dig over and incorporate compost to any vacant areas. Doing this now and leaving the ground rough means winter frosts will naturally break it down. The drainage on the outdoor pots will all need checking ahead of winter hitting in earnest, and we’ll be surveying all the over-wintering plants for pests – aphids in particular.

What to look out for in the garden this month
Camellia sasanqua
Viburnum bodnantense ‘Dawn’
Cornus ‘Midwinter Fire’

Callicarpa bodinieri Profusion
Liriope muscari

Monday, 11 November 2019

November in the Garden

As winter starts to approach in earnest, you’d think it’d be all cups of tea and extra layers to keep warm, but in truth we’re still a hive of activity.

This month we’ll be planting the tulip bulbs in tubs, in preparation for next season. The tender plants will continue to be put to bed, which is done by cutting them back and covering them to ward off the elements.

Now that we’ve had the first frost, the dahlia tubers can be lifted. Dahlias are always lifted once the foliage has been blackened by the first frost. We cut off the old flowering stems 5cm (2in) from the base and trim away any thin roots. These stems can then be composted. The hellebores will need some attention too before flowering, so this month we’ll be removing all their damaged and diseased foliage.

As the perennials continue to die back, we’ll carry on cutting them down. By autumn, many herbaceous perennials are running out of steam, with old foliage and flowers beginning to die back, which means it’s a good time to cut the old foliage back to the ground. The crown (the base of the plant) will remain dormant over winter and produce fresh shoots in the spring.

As the leaves merrily dance to the ground, we have a job on our hands this month to net all the ponds, to stop them falling in. And similarly, there’s a lot of work to be done clearing leaves across the garden – especially on the lawns. Any leaves that we have detected to be diseased will be burnt this much, such as rose leaves with blackspot, for example.

Elsewhere, it’s all about planting trees and shrubs across the garden, and cleaning the greenhouses out so that we can bring in any tender material for the winter. In that same vein, now’s the time to check all the greenhouse’s heating systems are working as they should, to make sure everything’s kept safe and warm inside.

What to look out for in the garden this month

Autumn leaf colour across the garden, in a kaleidoscope of vibrant hues
Nerine bowdenii (Bowden lily)
Ornamental grasses
Berries galore, namely:
Callicarpa bodinieri (Bodinier's beautyberry)
Berberis (barberry)
Malus (apple tree)
Gaultheria mucronate (prickly heath)
Euonymus europeaeus (spindle tree)

Friday, 4 October 2019

Glorious Autumn at Borde Hill Garden

Our gardeners have got plenty to be getting on with. As glorious autumn hues spring up across the garden, new evergreens and a broad range of other trees and shrubs will be planted, (including new alliums and Fritillaria raddeana - see below photo), and young evergreen shrubs will be moved. 

There will be cutting back across the garden - the Buddleia, Lavatera and Cornus alba for example will need reducing by half to prevent wind rock. The essential pruning of the climbing roses and cutting of deciduous hedges will need finishing before November darkens our door. 

Also the ongoing task of dividing the perennials will continue. The more tender of these will need bringing undercover as the weather takes a seasonal turn.

As to the lawns, new turf will be laid and all lawns renovated, to allow them to bounce back at their brilliant best in the spring. Leaf clearing will be near constant through the month.

Halloween and half-term collide in spooktacular style this month, and to celebrate we’ll be opening the Borde Hill Academy of Witches & Wizards. Between 26th October and 3rd November, help Sapphire the Witch’s cat regain her magical powers on a bewitching garden trail full of spells, potions and mystery (£2 a child, free to Friends).

What to look out for in the garden this month
Late flowering perennials – aster, rudbeckias, 
Liriope muscari 

Thursday, 5 September 2019

All hands on deck at Borde Hill Garden this September

As weather suitable for climbing and rambling starts to subside (whether you’re a person or a plant), it’s all hands on deck at Borde Hill Garden this September. For starters the climbing and rambling roses will all need a good prune to reduce their height and protect them from the onslaught of wind that winter’s sure to bring.

Elsewhere, the late flowering perennials that have kept a pleasing sea of colour flowing through the garden of late will now need deadheading and watering where necessary, (the latter is especially relevant if we’re to have another Indian summer like those we’ve enjoyed in recent years).

Beyond that the perennials will need lifting and dividing. Most perennials benefit from division every two to three years to maintain health and vigour. If you want to increase the number of plants you have by dividing them, the task can be done more regularly.

The beautiful beech and hornbeam hedges, of which we are lucky to have a few, will all also need a light trim to ensure they all come back next year at their brilliant best. And the birch trees will get a similar treatment for the same reason.

And with our eye firmly placed on next year already, end of this month we’ll also set about planting spring flowering bulbs including fritillarias, alliums, narcissus, tulips, triteleias and muscari.

What to look out for in the garden this month: