Bringing back the Best Garden
It's been 25 years since a Garden Management Plan was written for the garden at Chastleton. It is now the time to reinstate and revive the Best Garden by aiming to create an environment of rich planting, intoxicating scents and impressively clipped topiary. Senior Gardener, Rosy Sutton, has been writing a progress diary as the project moves forward and we share this with you here.
Wednesday 13th March 2019
First breaking of the ground today in the Best Garden. The ground is finally dry enough after the rain of the past few weeks, but it's still really windy. Weirdly, this area isn't affected by the wind. We can hear it roaring, but it is quite still in the centre of the Best Garden. The strong wind is coming from the south west (the prevailing wind) and any trees in danger of toppling would fall into Church Field.
I've suggested starting the work to the volunteers. We start, but stop again when the rain rolls in - never mind, there's plenty of things to be sorting in the greenhouse. Later, when the rain has died down a bit, we re-mark the blue lines around the beds. We marked them out so long ago that the original lines have almost faded away.
Once the beds are re-marked, I set about showing them how to use the half-moonedger to cut the shape of the border. Once the border is cut we cut the turf into strips and lift it, from the centre, to preserve the crispness of the edge of the border. The turves are really thatchy so we are able to lift them without much soil still attached. Strips of the turf are piled onto the back of the mower and taken down to the bottom of the garden for stacking into loam piles to use in the future.
Amazingly the weather holds off and we are able to complete a whole section. Afterwards I get the mower out and mow around the beds that we have completed and then round the larger beds on the outside of the hedges to show how big the final project will be - everyone has a minor freak out moment!
Something I had never noticed before is the landscaping within the Best Garden - it rises to a point where the sundial is, in the middle. This sculpting really adds to the design of the area. It's amazing how opening just one quarter of it makes it look instantly 'arts and crafts'. (This reminds me that I must check that book by Sarah Rutherford which has a similar picture on the front cover).
Once our work for the day is complete, we go up to the Long Gallery and look down on our work.
Thursday 14th March 2019
Another wet and windy day. Assistant Gardener Laura and volunteer Gardener Shirley are in today. We go and have a look at the work from the previous day, but it is quite wet so we start on some jobs inside and hope it gets drier. After break it gets a bit brighter and we start on the opposite quarter to the one we worked on yesterday. We start on the inner beds as I don't think we'll manage to get a larger bed done before it starts raining again.
Once again we pile turves onto the back of the lawn mower. The weather conspires against us and we only ge the one bed open, but it's still progress.
Friday 15th March 2019
Wet and windy again so we concentrate on undercover jobs and run out to work on the Best Garden when the weather allows. Volunteers Mary and Julie are in with Laura.
We pile up the turves onto the finished beds as it's too wet to take the mower through the garden and to the wilderness. We hope by leaving them earth they will be less noticable.
We manage to open up a larger bed, so now, half of the beds have been opened up. It's very noticable how airless the Best Garden is - this needs to be taken into account in terms of fungal diseases in the roses - planting will have to be slightly sparser to stop black spot and mildew rampaging through the plants.
Once again we head up to the Long Gallery to check our progress.
Check back soon for more Best Garden progress updates.