Sunday, 5 May 2013

Life Begins

Firstly I must apologise for taking so long to give you all and update. We have been super busy over the past few weeks as the beautiful weather has meant that we can get on and complete many of the spring time tasks. This time of year is one of our busiest times as the garden is bursting into life and it seems that everyday there is something new to see, also we are now rapidly approaching the rose season so ensuring the garden looks at its absolute best is a priority.

Here we have Cat working hard to get the mulch down and spread across the herbaceous borders. Lots of people ask what we use as a mulch, the stuff pictured here is called 'Pro-Grow'; this is produced by the local council from all the green waste that is taken to the dump or collected from your house. After people find out what it is the instant response is  " I've heard that stuff is full of weeds and unwanted seeds". I can honestly say that here at Mottisfont we have never encountered such a problem(and we use at least 5 tons per year if not more!), perhaps we are lucky enough to have a council that uses the proper composting procedures. Whatever the reason, this stuff is really rich and packed full of nutrients and I highly recommend it as a mulch or as a soil conditioner. We also use well rotted horse manure especially around the roses and in particular the Hybrid Perpetual varieties. I collect the manure from the local stables as they are more than happy to get rid of as much as they can.

Another big job that happens at this time of year is trimming the Lavender hedges in the North Garden, the hedges get trimmed twice a year; they receive a good hard going over now and a lighter trim after they have finished flowering. As you can see we take off quite a bit of growth now, this is so they keep a tight and compact shape. Many people tell me that they think we have been too hard and I must admit that it looks quite drastic. As many of you know Lavender shouldn't be cut back to old wood because it wont sprout from there, this is very true but  the problem that arises from this is often people are scared to prune or trim them in a way that keeps them manageable. The secret is to be fairly hard and do cut into the woody sections of the plant but make sure there are foliage breaks below where you are cutting and the plant will be absolutely fine. hopefully these pictures will help illustrate the point.

The Rose Garden lawns have had their 'spring clean' and they look spectacular even if I do say so myself. The spring time maintenance on these lawns consists of scarifying to remove any thatch and promote good strong re-growth, followed swiftly with a good low cut, then they are fed with turf fertiliser. They also benefit from being aerated and ideally this would happen at least once a year, but I will admit that it doesn't always happen with such regularity here.

Finally the paths in the North Garden have been graded and are receiving a new top dressing of crushed slate which is one of the finishing touches. The eagle eyed among you will spot Murphy posing for a photo, he's our garden cat and a favourite with visitors.


  1. HI Jonny, I've started following your blog on the recommendation of Jon Dodson. I live in Australia on the eastern coast approx 130kms (80 miles) south of Sydney (temperate zone here).

    I've been to Mottisfont twice, with Jon, and truly love it. Thanks for the tip on the trimming of lavender, I had intentions of trimming mine but took it that bit further a few days ago after reading your blog. I moved into a small garden a year ago and have probably over-planted with roses but who cares? I'm sure I can fit a few more in. My favourites here are tea roses as they suit the climate so have Mrs Dudley Cross and General Gallieni plus a few David Austins and others including 2 Crepescules that I just couldn't resist.

    Looking forward to hearing more about this great garden.


    1. Hi Debra,

      Great to hear from you. In my opinion you can never have too many roses especially with Crepescule, I love that rose and its a firm favourite with visitors here. Thanks for taking the time to read my blog

      Best Wishes