Behind the scenes at our gardens: Caring for Dyffryn over autumn
Ever wondered what it takes to keep our gardens in tip-top shape over the seasons? Go behind the scenes at Dyffryn with Head Gardener Chris Flynn and his team of gardeners and volunteers to discover what it takes to care for one of the most important gardens in the country.
They’ll be revealing the year-round challenges and joys involved in caring for these 55 acres of gardens, set in the Vale of Glamorgan and their plans to restore them to their former glory.
What’s going on in the gardens over autumn?
As early autumn arrives, the borders and pot displays are still a riot of colour, the kitchen garden is a hive of activity and one of the most important jobs in the garden, the great hedge cut, is underway.
The great hedge cut
As Head Gardener, Chris Flynn, explains, 'We’re just beginning a ten year programme of hedge renovation across the garden…it will restore diminishing views through the garden and help return the neat perfection and finesse which existed in Reginald Cory’s day. We feed the hedges annually to make sure they’re vigorous and healthy before being stumped back. It seems a heavy handed approach but within a few years the yews will have regrown.'
Don’t miss the dahlias
Pots of colour
Hazel explains, 'The big displays can keep going until November with copious dead-heading and watering. Behind the scenes we take the containers apart and put them back together again to freshen them up. We inherited over 1,000 dahlias which all needed identifying and labelling, one of my biggest tasks when I arrived at Dyffryn.’
What’s happening in the kitchen garden?
The kitchen garden is buzzing with activity in autumn. You’ll always find something unusual growing here and some of the weird and wonderful vegetables are now ready to harvest, including South American crops such as the oca. In the Andes, oca is the most widely cultivated tuber after the potato and the small, pink tubers are delicious raw in salads.
It’s not all about picking crops, plenty of planting goes on in the autumn too. Japanese over-wintering onions ‘Paris White’ are very hardy and will be sown this autumn as will the French variety of lettuce ‘Marvel of Four Seasons’.
Last chance to see
Look out for the eye-catching succulent border on the south terrace behind the house. These sun loving plants thrive in this sheltered spot, their architectural forms create bold patterns against the gravel. A succulent border featured here during the garden’s heyday in the 1920s.