Gardening on a grand scale

This section of the page features an image gallery, so if you're using a screen reader you may wish to jump to the main content.

Whether it’s keeping the lawn trim, the window-box watered or the weeds at bay, those with green fingers often enjoy pottering in the garden. But when you’ve got 10 miles of box hedging to cut and 20,000 plants to plant – then gardening takes on a whole new challenge!

10 miles of box hedging

June is a busy time for the gardeners at Ickworth and Wimpole, as the teams start the huge task of cutting their box hedges, which when combined together, stretch for miles.

We start this task when the risk of frost has gone, so that we don’t risk scorching the tender new growths. We also avoid cutting during very hot and sunny weather too, due to plants being susceptible to sun scorch. When doing this at home you can avoid this by spraying the foliage with water before cutting, but being aware that this should not be done when using electric hedge cutters due to the risk of electrocution!

20,000 plants

The formal parterres at Blickling, Wimpole and Oxburgh all need to be planted up if they’re going to delight our visitors during the summer. At Oxburgh, 6,500 plants will be going in, including Heliotrope, Tegetes, and ‘Paul Crampel’ Geraniums. A further 10,000 bedding plants will be added at Wimpole, including pelargonium and salvia farinasea. Then at Blickling where the parterre was planned, set out and planted by Norah Lindsey in the 1930’s the planting scheme has remained the same ever since, full of hardy perennials and grasses such as Echinops and Achillea. However, the top terrace is planted with almost 1,000 penstemons in June, the colours mimicking the soft hues of the blue beds on the lower parterre.

As well as the formal parterres, the gardeners at Anglesey Abbey will be planting amongst other things, around 2,000 Dahlias in the main garden and the Nursery Garden, ready for their Dahlia festival in September. This will include the special Anglesey Abbey bedding Dahlias, Madamme Stappers (Red) and Ella Britton (Yellow). 

And here’s a top tip from Anglesey’s Head Gardener Richard Todd…

“Plant your Dahlia plants in the garden in a plastic pot no less than 3 inches below soil level, they will be as good as if they were out of the pot, but the big benefit is that when it is time to lift Dahlias for storage in the autumn, you will have a pot full of tuber that is then very easy to store. Keep the tuber in the pot which should be turned on its side, kept frost free and then repotted or planted the following year, it will be the best tuber ever!”

And that doesn’t even take into account the acres of lawn that needs cutting!