Thursday, 26 September 2013

The Great Plane

Within the gardens here at Mottisfont we have some beautiful, old and very interesting trees and today I would like to focus on one in particular - The Great Plane.

The pictures above show you the tree in question and I have to start by saying that this tree is nothing short of gargantuan! The pictures really don't do it justice. It currently stands at 42 metres high and has a circumference of well over 12 metres. I realise It's hard to visualise if you haven't been lucky enough to see it but hopefully you can appreciate that it's simply massive. I can easily say that this is one of the most impressive trees I have ever set eyes on.

Unusually we have no planting record for this (this really is unusual as normally every planting is religiously recorded) however with the help of drawings and garden records we can say that it was definitely planted between 1722 and 1742. Within the gardening team here we believe that the correct year was 1724 but there is no concrete evidence. This is a 'London Plane' or Plantanus x Hispanica, so called a London Plane due to the mass planting of it along the streets of London, but nowadays you will see it planted in most towns and cities. The reason for this is because it is extremely tolerant of pollution and pruning.


Friday, 6 September 2013

Rose Hips or Heps.....?

It's the time of year where our roses that had such a beautiful display of flowers start to display and ripen their heps. You will notice that I use the term heps instead of hips, the reason for this is because it is simply the way I've been taught and both are acceptable terms for the fruit that roses produce. Heps tends to be a term used by the older generation and specialists alike and in some cases people will use the term 'rose fruit' but don't worry they all mean the same thing.

Heps are produced once the rose flowers have been pollinated, they will start to appear on the plant towards the end of Summer and they will swell in size and ripen throughout Autumn. Many people forget about or disregard heps but  in my opinion they are just as beautiful and interesting as the flowers that come before. They come in all different shapes, sizes and colours which I find fascinating and some of the roses are so festooned in heps that they stop you in your tracks. Not only are they pretty but also very useful, they can be used in some medicines and in food to produce everything from jam and jelly to wine and vodka!

Here are just a few of the endless varieties of heps we have here at Mottisfont.

Tuesday, 3 September 2013

Adelaide d'Orleans

Over the past week or so the big job has been pruning the rambling rose Adelaide
d’Orleans this is the rose growing on the Arches over some of the paths. They are always a show stopper and one of the most photographed roses in the garden. Here is a beautiful photo of her in full bloom.

Here at Mottisfont we don't prune these roses every year, in fact they only get pruned once every 4 or 5 years, this is because they like to grow into what you would describe as a big tangled mess. As a result of this they flower profusely and look absolutely stunning. However letting them grow like this means that pruning them turns into quite a difficult task and honestly there isn't an easy way to do it, you have to just get stuck in and go for it. I can tell you from lots of personal experience that it is one of the most painful jobs there is. As well as having lovely flowers this rose also has a great deal of big and seriously sharp prickles that just love to hook into your skin, get caught in your hair, scratch, tear and generally cause a lot of pain. ( I should mention here that the term 'prickles' is the botanically correct word for thorns.) 

Pictured above is the rose before pruning starts. The main aim behind this task is to remove as much of the old, flowered wood as possible and to tie in the new growth in its place. The important thing to remember when growing this rose like this is to leave in some wood that is a couple of seasons old as this will have produced some really strong new shoots which will be beneficial for covering the top of the arch.

Here you can see Kat and Matt painstakingly taking the rose off of the arch and pruning out the oldest wood.  I realise that it's probably quite hard to see in the photo, but the eagle eyed among you will notice that both of them are wearing gauntlet gloves designed for handling rolls of barbed wire!

The finished article is something that looks a bit too drastic when compared with how it started, but don't worry it will soon grow on and cover the entire arch once again. The first years flowers wont be particularly impressive but within no time at all it will be back to its former glory. I'm just thankful that it doesn't have to be done for another 5 years!
Look after yourselves, love your garden and check next week for a new post.