Head Gardener's Notes

Head Gardener's Notes: Winter/ Spring 2022

11th of Feb, 2022

Fingers crossed this will be a more normal gardening year!


It has been quite cold this February and the frost has made itself known, though it hasn’t prevented the snowdrops from popping up, or the early daffodils from showing green leaves on the Coronation Walk, and on Lime Walk.


We have, like most, been catching up on jobs that were delayed or put off entirely over the last two years due to the pandemic. This is a real challenge in a garden as we usually have a singular seasonal window to get individual jobs done, but we are getting there.


The beastie poles have made a welcome return to the Heraldic Garden after a two-year absence, adding a welcome touch of Penshurst Place history to the borders.


Behind the scenes in our Gardener’s Yard, we have begun sowing extras of some flowers that will be on display in the Gardens to be sold in the Plant Centre this year, as well as annuals that will help fill out some of our larger borders, such as the Jubilee Walk. Also in our Yard is an area where we grow specimens for a little longer so they’re at the correct size when they are moved to the main Gardens. These include cherry trees, roses, penstemons, and lavender.


Regular visitors to Penshurst Place are likely to have noticed the number of apple trees reducing across the Gardens. This is simply because the trees became too old and the branches too brittle. We have been planting replacements in several places including the Orchard, and all the chosen varieties are related to much older varieties or were first produced in Kent. Despite the name, even the ‘‘Herefordshire Russet’ in the Orchard was produced in Kent!


We’ve been busy along the Woodland Trail coppicing an area of sweet chestnut, the wood from which will be used for repairing the Pergola and other features in the Garden after it has seasoned for a year. Seasoning the wood is important as it ensures it won’t warp or split when it’s repurposed for repairs.


We are repairing some of the “high wear” places in the Garden so you might see some white horticultural fleece on the ground during your visit, this is to protect the grass seed from frost and birds. Keen gardeners will know that it’s quite early to spread grass seed as you would normally wait until the weather is a little warmer, but with the Garden being open for the rest of the year, we start early to try and get ahead of the heavy footfall that summer brings.


On a more personal note, I’m pleased to mention we have been fortunate to have a new Gardener join our team and, like most we imagine, are looking forward to a more positive horticultural year in 2022!