In the Garden News
The long cold winter and subsequent cool spring endured this year was quite a trial for plants and gardeners alike. But now things are beginning to warm up, we begin preparations for the long hot summer (which we all feel we now deserve!) and some of the benefits of this cool start are becoming evident.
The meadows at Gravetye have been looking particularly impressive this year. The Lent lillis (Narcissus pseudonarcissus) which are just finishing their display at the start of May have lasted for nearly two months due to the cool weather preserving them. As these go over, later flowering daffodils such as the beautiful buttercup yellow petticoat daffodil, Narcissus bulbocodium, ssp. conspicua, take over the show. In a normal year this wonderful little thing is just peeping through the fast growing grass around it, but this year because of the cool spring the grass is much shorter. This has allowed many of the more petite meadow flowers to really stand out, resulting in quite remarkable effects, with plants like Anemone x robinsoniana and Scilla siberica making hazes of colour through the meadow.
Many of the bulbs we planted within the meadow last autumn are also coming into flower such as a small colony of Tulipa sylvestris by the stone seat at the end of the long border. This is a plant that Robinson wrote about successfully introducing into the meadow nearly 130 years ago, although this population seemed to have long since died out. Our reintroduction experiment using two hundreds bulbs has been a great success, with a beautiful pocket of butter yellow flower heads rising above the grass. These should be tough enough to return year after year and with luck they will self seed and spread quite freely through the meadow.
We grazed the meadow at the start of last winter with sheep, to knock the autumn grass growth back as low as possible. Sheep do a very good job at this as they can nibble the sward very short, leaving the wild flowers, as they select out the more palatable grass. Their light feet never cut up the ground, but rough it unjust enough to give the wild flower seed an opportunity to germinate. Since this graze the grass has barely grown and so through it you can clearly can hundreds of thousands of shiny, poker dotted, common spotted orchid leaves which are promising a mouth-watering display next month.
To find out more about Tom's exciting work at Gravetye Manor you can read his latest article on our kitchen garden in Country Life ‘Make the most of asparagus’ on our Press Page.
Special Garden Event on Thursday 9th May
William Robinson and the Nature-Inspired Garden with Noel Kingsbury
Garden writer, Noel Kingsbury, tells us about Robinson's colourful, lively, and at times controversial career; as well as what we can learn from him today. Similar contemporary ideas on nature-inspired gardening will be explored, with plenty of advice and guidance on achieving similar results in the garden at home. Noel Kingsbury is an internationally-renowned writer on gardening, as well as being actively involved in planting design himself (he designed the new planting on the Promenade at Bexhill-on-Sea). The lunch will be followed by a tour from Gravetye’s own head gardener Tom Coward, with a special focus on wild gardening in the 21st century in Robinson’s historic garden.
Gathering at 12.30pm for 1.00pm.
£85.00 per head, aperitif, 3 courses and drinks inclusive.
Smart casual. Please bring appropriate clothing and footwear for the outdoor element of the day.
All our other garden events this Spring/Summer are fully booked so this is your last chance to see Tom’s work. To book please call our reception team on 01342 810567.
|It’s not too late to plan a trip to the opera this summer with Glyndebourne, plus now the sun is finally shining – why not enjoy a free garden tour with lunch on Bank holiday Monday… ||Rupert looks forward to our Champagne and Caviar Dinner on 11th May, plus is inspired by rhubarb - read on for a recipe…|