Garden management

Head Gardener, Fergus Garrett writes:

The garden is managed in the same way as in Christopher Lloyd’s time. We go for high-impact visual displays but also intimacy in our combinations. All of this is within the strong infrastructure of buildings, garden hedges and landscaped trees. Wildflower meadows continue to flow into the garden and are cut twice a year after the seeds are set.

The trees within the meadows are allowed to grow in a natural state without too much interaction from pruning. The borders are mixed plantings of trees, shrubs, perennials, biennials, annuals and climbers. the trees and shrubs give us structure, the perennials give us our main season along with self-sowing biennials that soften the picture. Everything is underplanted with bulbs, with pockets of annuals and ephemerals that stretch the display from spring through to autumn.

The gardening style is intensive but plants are allowed to look comfortable. Our main method of feeding is with organic waste which is dug into the borders on a regular basis. Plants are not cut down in the autumn and winter period until the spring tidy up begins, providing us with valuable skeletons for a winter effect and a good food source for animals. We are not organic but use minimal chemicals, always preferring the softer option. We grow the majority of plants ourselves and constantly experiment. The water used is from our own borehole and we compost almost everything we can. The number of gardeners varies but usually there are five full-time gardeners, supported by part-timers, students and volunteers.

The display in the garden works in a series of peaks and troughs depending on the season and the mixing materials we are using. The meadows will always be brown in July to August as we are waiting for the seeds to ripen before we cut.