Wednesday, 27 March 2013

Still Waiting for Spring........

So we are now in the last week of March and I have to say that I had expected to see spring arrive already, alas that isn't the case for us here at Mottisfont. The weather here, like everywhere else in the country, has been bitterly cold and as a result of this the plants are reluctant to come out of winter hibernation. A good example of this is that about 90% of our daffodils are yet to come in to flower! I appreciate that many parts of our country are under a huge amount of snow and we have managed to escape it altogether, so I can't really complain. I feel for those people who have been affected by the snow especially the farmers who have had whole flocks of sheep covered in 6ft of snow and for those who have lost other livestock.

The cold and dry weather has enabled us to get on with some good work and this week we have been able to do a lot of feeding and cultivation of the beds. Here in the rose garden we use two fertilisers or 'feeds' for the beds; the first is an organic pellet feed from Vitax, this gets scattered over the whole bed and provides a great amount of nutrients for both roses and companion planting. The second feed that we use is called Roots, this is a fantastic feed! It's a 'biologically enhanced' feed and basically it will help to improve the eco system and bio-diversity within the soil as well as provide nutrients to the plants. The point behind this is that if you can maintain a healthy ecosystem within the soil, then this will be a much better environment for your plants to grow in and ultimately they will respond in a much more positive way. Roots also gets spread over the whole bed, I often try to give a little more around the base of a rose but it will be most beneficial if you can work it in to all the soil. A word of warning - Roots can be very expensive and doesn't need to be heavily applied, a light scattering will be sufficient.

Once the feed has been applied to a bed then the process of cultivating starts. Over the vast majority of the beds we use a 3 tine cultivator to work the feed in to the soil, this is a manual opperation and involves you pulling the cultivator toward you thus giving the effect of  miniature plough. but in some places the ground is forked over.

This week has also seen our Heritage Diploma student Victoria preparing some of the raised beds in the Frameyard for vegetables. This is going to be one of her projects this year so feel free to come and have a look at what's going on.

David Stone, the Head Gardener here at Mottisfont, has been busy preparing the 'cutting bed' this week. This bed is in the Frameyard and is used to grow a variety of beautiful cut flowers which are supplied to the house. A dedicated team of volunteers will come and use the flowers as they please in order to create the lovely flower displays.

Wednesday, 13 March 2013

Hello and Welcome

Hello and welcome to my brand new blog about the gardens here at Mottisfont,  I will endeavour to update this page at least once a week and keep you posted on developments in the garden. 

It feels like it's been a long and hard winter in the garden this year, probably because we didn't have much of a summer last year, but winter is nearly behind us and spring is just round the corner. I love this time of year as the garden is filled with so much promise of what is about to come, you start to see daffodils in flower everywhere and a whole variety of spring bulbs pushing up through the soil.

The big job that has occupied us over te past 8 weeks or so has been rose pruning, it's quite a task here with the numbers of roses running into the thousands. We are nearly at the end now and the team have done a fantastic job, especially when you consider that the work must go on despite the terrible weather if we are to finish in time.

On some of our roses we prune and train them in a method known as 'pegging down', this is done so that flowers will be produced along the whole stem. If these stems were to be pruned right down to form a more typical srub rose shape then all that flowering wood would be lost. This can be done with almost any variety of rose that prodeces long vertical canes of new growth, preferably over 4 feet in length and I encourage you to try it in your own garden.

Here are a couple of examples:

Please feel free to comment, post and share this bog as well as asking any questions that you might have. I would love to hear from you.