Friday, 25 October 2013


The week started with Victoria, our diploma student, and some of the wonderful volunteers stripping out the soft fruit from the raised beds. This is because the beds were only put in as a temporary structure a couple of years ago, as a result they are only very shallow and this caused problems for the plants that were in there.

Having said that, the Rhubarb has done extremely well and we have decided that they should be kept. They have been transplanted into some proper beds at the back of the kitchen and will definitely be used in their cooking.

Just as a side note - the bed in the bottom left hand corner of the above picture is covered in chicken wire to deter squirrels and rodent from digging it up as it has been planted up with lots and lots of red Tulips. This is a mark of respect as next year will see the centenary of the first World War commencing. It's going to look stunning next spring so please keep an eye out for it.

Above you can see the finished article with only the dwarf apple trees remaining.

The next job on the list was to remove the Laurel hedge surrounding the old tennins court, remove the tennis court surface, level the site and lay it to turf. Believe me when I say that this took a serious amount of work! We have done this because the tennis court has been unused for many years and had become derelict and an unused space within the garden. 

The digger made light work of removing the bulk of the hedge, but once this was done we had to go through and dig out / pull up the remaining roots by hand. The debris was then put together in one huge pile and we had a 'mega bonfire', including cooking of potatoes in the embers.

After this the site was cleared, the old surface removed and about 15 tons of topsoil as spread over the area. (spreading that much soil always gives the back a good work out.) Some of the existing hard surface was retained as this will become the new home of the summer marquee.

I want to leave you with a couple of pictures showing some of the most beautiful Autumn colour. This is my favourite time of the year and these 2 trees depict it perfectly in my opinion.

This is a photo I took from the top of the bell tower above the stable block. This is one of the 'Tulip trees' (Liriodendron Tulipifera), as you can see it has the most beautiful colour to it at this time of year and it seems to emit light on a gloomy day.  Below is the Scarlet Oak which can be found in the Walled Garden and looks just as stunning.

Friday, 4 October 2013

Studying the wonderful world of Roses

I wanted to take this opportunity to tell you about an up coming trip that I will be going on. During November and December this year I will be leaving the shores of England and travelling to New Zealand and the USA in order to study roses and work with the people who grow and care for them. This trip is a Fellowship funded by the Winston Churchill Memorial Trust, these guys are a fantastic charity and a wonderful bunch of people. They fund British citizens to travel abroad in order to gain experience knowledge, or engage in a worthwhile enterprise so that their life, their work or their community benefit. Please please please have a look at their website and I can't encourage you enough to apply to them for your own fellowship.

The reason behind my fellowship is that our Head Gardener here at Mottisfont (David Stone) will be retiring next summer and I wanted to take the opportunity to expand my knowledge of heritage roses as much as possible in the time he has left here. For those of you who don't know, David has been the Head Gardener here since 1978 and was appointed by Graham Thomas.

On November 6th I will be heading for Auckland and will be spending 3 weeks in New Zealand hopping between North and South Islands. In my time there I will be experiencing some truely beautiful gardens and learning all about the roses they grow, how they grow them and sharing knowledge and experiences with some great gardeners. Then once my time in NZ is up I will be heading straight to California for a couple of weeks to experience first hand some of the gardens that I have only ever read about! And having seen the lists of roses grown out there I am almost shaking with excitement. From California it will be on to New York with particular attention on winter work and protection. This is something I am very much looking forward to as we have a few very fussy roses at Mottisfont which don't do well in our winters.

I will of course be writing this blog every week so you guys can all keep up to date with where I am and what I'm doing. I hope you all have a great weekend!