Head Gardener's Notes
Head Gardener's Notes: Winter 2017/18
28th of Jan, 2018
Winter is the time of year when we tackle the more intrusive tasks in the garden, meaning we limit our use of big (and often loud!) machinery during the open season. Whist most tasks we repeat year on year to ensure the health of the gardens, this year we have added to our workload by setting to work at double digging the rose beds in the Union flag garden. Double digging is a process which involves digging down to twice the depth of a spade’s head (roughly around 2 feet) and is necessary to ensure the beds don’t become rose sick, a condition caused by growing roses in the same spot for many years. By double digging we will improve the soil structure and drainage, we’ve also added farmyard manure into the trench to give future roses a good feed at the roots.
Penshurst Place has been known for its roses and apples for centuries which between them make up the largest displays in the garden. There is evidence of apple trees grown at Penshurst Place since the 1340’s, and we still use them in our Garden Restaurant, Porcupine Pantry, and wedding menus – local sourcing doesn’t get much more local than that!
Unfortunately, due to the age of our orchards, this year you will see that we have had to remove a few apple trees that had died, mainly from old age. The silver lining however is that this will allow space for new plantings later in the year, although not in exactly the same place as the ground will need a rest.
The double borders which lay next to the sprawling Italian Garden are in the process of being planted up to a design by George Carter, who specialises in geometrically inspired 17th century design, working exclusively with formal gardens such as ours. We hope to complete the new border in March ready for our full opening at Easter. One of the many benefits of Penshurst Place still being the Sidney family home, is the variety of styles and favoured designs each generation has bought to the garden, allowing the 11 garden rooms to develop individually over time.
Finally, I am pleased to mention there have been two new additions to the gardens team over the autumn and winter, with our apprentice starting his training and a new Deputy Head Gardener. So with the digging, sowing, pruning and of course weeding, I’d better keep this short and get back to it!
With best wishes,