The Gardens in July
The Gardens in June
Vegetable planting is in full flow. We are busy planting out sweetcorn, courgettes,cucumbers, squash and pumpkins (for our famous Halloween event). Salads and lettuce are ready for picking. In the South Garden everything is getting bigger by the day!! The Alliums are in full flower and looking stunnung. The Wisteria is in flower and smelling amazing. I really hate to say it but we could do with some rain!! The sprinklers are working full time.
The Gardens in May
Apple and Pear blossom is in abundance, the Magnolia is in full flower and the Tulips are still in bloom. The salad beds are starting to take shape with lettuce and mustards beginning to show. Sweet peas have been planted out and are now growing. This month seed sowing starts in earnest with root veg such as carrots, parsnips and beetroots going in first.
The Gardens in April
The Gardens in March
Hampton Court Shapes up for Spring
This is the time of year when the shape of the garden shows up. In high summer, with geraniums and euphorbias spilling over paths, beans rampaging up arches and lavender and roses blooming you don’t so easily notice the plan and structure of the garden. In late winter or earliest spring, before most of the plants get going, there’s a different kind of beauty, a pattern of arches, trees, paths and clipped yew hedges.
It’s a time for looking at our perennial flower beds in the south garden, sorting out things like eryngium that should be in the middle of the borders but usually pushes its way to the front, clumps of campanula and hemerocallis that need splitting, geraniums that would take over everything if we let them.
In the vegetable garden, some of the plots will stay bare till late May. In spite of our sheltering walls, we’re in a frost pocket, with killer frosts quite possible up to the start of June, so runner beans, courgettes, tomatoes will stay in the greenhouse until it’s as nearly safe as we can manage. At least trenches are ready for the runner beans and we’ve been piling compost materials like the remains of last year’s kale and cabbages into them.
Our sweet peas, started in a cold greenhouse before Christmas, will be planted out earlier in spring. We’re making wigwams for the sweet peas and climbing vegetables, weaving them out of birch saplings cut in our woods.
Last autumn we planted 3,000 tulip bulbs in the Dutch garden, and after the mild start to the winter they were already showing through in January. But squirrels love tulip bulbs and we lost quite a lot to them last year, so we’re putting nets over the beds and hope that will do the trick.
The roses have been pruned and mulched with compost and the espaliered apple and pear trees pruned and tied in. The big tasks of trimming our pleached lime hedges and pruning the round acer globosum trees near the Orangery restaurant will take up a fair bit of February.
There are almost always things flowering in the sunken garden, with mahonia, witch hazel (hamamelis) and hellebores blooming in the coldest days. It is still a time of year when things can be changed and over our coffee breaks we discuss whether to move a shrub to somewhere it might be happier or what combination of things to plant in the raised earth boxes in our vegetable garden.
Since we’re organic, we’re always looking for partnerships that ward off pests or attract pollinators. We always grow some old heritage varieties of vegetables and unusual things like cardoons and salsify. Few people these days would bleach a cardoon stem or scrape a salsify root but they look good and interest people, which is part of the point of our vegetable garden.
We’ll be open on 20th March, and the gardens that have been closed to the public since the end of October will be welcoming our visitors again.
When pruning, remember to disinfect your secateurs with surgical spirit in between trees, to avoid passing on diseases.
Dressing beds with mulch feeds soil and helps to keep down weeds. If you have your own well-rotted compost, that’s fine to use.
If planting peas direct into the garden, mice eating them may be a problem. They can be deterred by sticking small sprigs of holly along the drill or trench before re-covering with soil.
Have another look at the catalogues and think of late summer. There’s still time to order dahlia tubers and gladiolus corms for planting in April or May when the soil warms up. We like the pure white gladiolus Amsterdam. Acidantheras are like small white gladioli with a purple blotch in the centre and smell wonderful. We planted them in pots last year along with panicum Frosted Explosion.
Seeds too. If there are gaps in the vegetable gardens, packets of easy to grow annuals like calendulas, Californian poppy (eschscholzia) and some of the more compact nasturtiums come in handy and flowers should attract pollinating insects.
Don’t be in too much of a hurry to buy frost-tender plants like petunias or tagetes if you’re in an area prone to frost. Unless it is an exceptionally warm spring, the weather can spring some surprises.
The garden team at Hampton Court.