Monday, 19 December 2011

Peach Tree Cover

For the first time at Chastleton we are trying a peach tree cover on one of the outdoor peach trees from Dec to early spring. The aim is to garden more organically and by protecting the tree from rain when the new leaf buds are developing it is hoped that the tree will be less likely to suffer with peach leaf curl. This will hopefully eliminate the need to spray for peach leaf curl.
We are trialing this more environmentally friendly way of protecting the peach trees on one of the outdoor trees - if it works well we will try to cover the other outdoor peach tree next year as well. The cover has ventilation vents in the top and sides to allow air circulation and the sides are removable and will be pinned back as the weather improves and to allow pollination by insects. The cover will be closely monitored and removed in the spring to allow the tree to fully develop through the spring, summer and autumn seasons.

Peach tree cover being constructed.

Peach tree cover completed.

Saturday, 17 December 2011

December 2011

Strawberry plants in the cold frame.

We continue with propagation in the garden. Jean has spent November and early December sorting and propagating our strawberries 'Florence', for our plant sales next year. They are of course potted up using peat free compost and recycled, cleaned plastic pots.
We have been more industious about collecting seeds and cuttings from plants in the garden this year. Jean has done a wonderful job helping dry and store seeds and pot up cuttings.
I feel particularly inspired to continue to develop propagation activities at Chastleton after my very helpful and educational week's visit to Ventnor Botanic Garden on The Isle of Wight in October. We have to be creative with our use of space for propagation at Chastleton at the moment - due to limited glass house and cold frame space. However, there are plans to expand the green house and add more cold frames in the West Garden in The Conservation Garden Management Plan, in the coming years.
Having had electrics installed to the green house on my arrival at Chastleton, one of my handymen volunteers helped me install a heated bench in the existing green house - which has been great. We also revamped and cleared and cleaned the green house - installing an automatic vent, a heater, insulation and shade netting. We try to make the best use of the green house space and cold frames all year round. We do hopefully plan to put back a 'hot bed' in The West Garden at some point - which will be exciting.
We have been busy recruiting volunteers to work on propagation and produce/plant sales at Chastleton at present. I am running propagation workshops for the propagation volunteers over Jan and Feb 2012. We launch our expanded stall of plant sales and Chastleton Garden Produce in The Stables in 2012.

Cornus hard wood cuttings.

We have taken hard wood cuttings of the Cornus plant removed from The Best Garden a couple of weeks ago and hope to relocate one or two of the new plants from the cuttings in The Wilderness and Nuttery in a year or two and make the remaining plants available to purchase by visitors to the garden.

Nicola and Julie in The Stables.

Nicola (Chastleton Property Operations Manager) and Julie (volunteer Garden Volunteer Co-ordinator) and I met this week to discuss and plan the Garden Exhibition that is to be put up in The Stables. The exhibition is to reflect and document the history of the estate and garden. It will also keep visitors up to date with present day restoration and conservation activities and plans on the estate and in the garden. Julie will lead our team of volunteer garden tour guides in helping put together the exhibition, with the aim of it being ready for open season in March 2012. This is a very exciting project and will hopefully aid understanding and enjoyment of the estate and garden for those who visit the property.

Wednesday, 14 December 2011

December in Chastleton Garden

December has been another busy month in the garden. I think the mild weather has finally gone and we have hit the colder climes of winter. The team of enthusiastic garden volunteers have been working hard with me to get jobs done in the garden and make a start on changes planned by Garden Conservation Management Plan. There have have been several more meetings to look at finalising the plan and Sarah Cottercraig (landscape architect and historian) hopes to present the completed document in late Dec 2011/early Jan 2012. We have already started to implement and plan some schedules of works for the changes advised in the plan and this will be an ongoing process.
So just some of the garden jobs we have been doing in the garden this month have been:
-spreading well rotted horse manure on the Kitchen Garden beds,
-clearing fallen leaves and putting them on the leaf mulch pile,
-pruning roses and tying climbing roses in,
-clearing and pruning trees and shrubs and ivy and tidying in The Wilderness and Nuttery,
-planning planting in The Kitchen Garden for next year,
-pruning and tying in climbers in The Forecourt,
-weeding and clearing rose borders,
-tidying, sorting, cutting back and dividing herbaceous borders,
-cutting back ivy on the walls,
-fleecing and bubble wraping the Agapanthus in their terracotta pots,
-pruning the vines on the arches in The Best Garden,
-putting in vine eyes and wires for the young pear tree in The Stable Yard,
-harvesting the Brussel Sprouts, Leeks and Parsnips for sale to visitors at our Christmas open week this wk- 'Comfort and Joy', and setting up and manning the stall,
-mending the roof of 'the secret shed' (previously a privy for the ladies of the house and now a potting shed),
-building a peach cover for one of the outside peach trees to help reduce risk of peach leaf curl next year.
We have started removing some of the large and 'outsized' shrubs in The Best Garden in line with the new planting plans from the Garden Conservation Management Plan.
See photos below of some of our activities-
Anna tying in roses.

Coralie pruning roses.

Cutting back and clearing years of rampaging ivy in The Wilderness and Nuttery.

Alice and Jean clearing and weeding one of the Rose Terrace borders.

Coralie and Jane C harvesting and preparing veg.

Hedley and John pruning the vines.

Alex and Mary fleecing Agapanthus and bubble wrap covering pots to protect from cold temps.

Karl cutting back ivy on the walls in the garden.

Gary repairing the roof of the 'secret shed' where it had been damaged by ivy.

Coralie helping remove the Cornus in The Best Garden.

Coralie helped Alex and Mary remove the Mahonia from The Best Garden.

I would just like to thank all the volunteers who have been involved with helping in the garden at Chastleton in 2011 and wishing them a very Happy Christmas and New Year. Anna.

Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Welcome to Chastleton Garden

Welcome to Chastleton Garden in a November frost.

Welcome to the new Chastleton Garden blog. Chastleton House and Garden dates back to the early 1600s - the Jacobean period. The House and Garden were originally built by the Jones family between 1607-1612 and were kept in the same family until 1991 when the Trust took on the property. The House and Garden have a unique, ancient and timeless atmosphere. The Trust aims to preserve a feeling of romantic neglect, that reflects the ups and downs of one family coping with caring for a large country house and diminishing estate. Chastleton Garden is open from mid-March to the end of October.

The garden retains its Jacobean layout, apart from having a few gates and doors added to a few of the walls. The garden, like the house, aims to have the feel of stepping back in time into a family home.

The garden is entered by the Forecourt, with its soft, random planting and slightly weedy, unkept drive. The Best Garden has a central feature of old, overgrown Box topiary with amorphous shapes, encircled by a Yew hedge. There is a Kitchen Garden, a Wilderness and Nuttery, croquet lawns, the West Garden and the Stable Yard. The garden is framed with walls with fruit and roses and large hedges.

I arrived as the Trust gardener for the property in March 2010. The garden was prevoiusly maintained by a garden contractor. The idea was to look at restoration and conservation work that needed doing in the garden and to launch the garden as the important historic feature of the property that it is. It was important to raise its profile and bring it more alive with volunteers and visitors. It is an unusual precedent to have to maintain a garden in an informal, 'slightly neglected' way and yet retain interest, health of plants and historical accuracy. So far it has been an exciting journey working at Chastleton. Among some of the things that have been achieved so far are: recruiting volunteers, setting up daily 30min garden 'taster' tours, compost workshops, evening Midsummer Tours, Apple Day, NGS day, croquet engagement, working to rejuvenate all areas of the garden whilst retaining the philosophy of the property, bee keeper talks, talks on birds in the garden, propagating and selling fruit and vegetables from the garden, writing a guide to the garden, giving external talks on the garden, setting up environmentally friendly horticultural practices, etc.

We are at a very exciting stage in the garden this year as we have worked with an historic landscape architect, an archivist and Trust advisors to put together The Conservation Management Plan for the garden. This means the garden will have been thoroughly historically researched and a plan made of how each area of the garden should be presented, what eras it should reflect and how it should be restored and conserved. Watch this space!
Anna - Gardener.