May Garden news

Karl Emeleus, Head Gardener Karl Emeleus Head Gardener
Killerton garden terrace window view

Here's a note from Karl, Killerton's Head Gardener about the garden this month.

Late spring heralds an explosion of colour and variety as a wide array of plants show off their wares in a beautiful display of colour at all levels. Bluebells carpet the wildflower meadows and many trees and shrubs burst into flower. Over the past month, the garden team have continued to work through all the herbaceous beds around the garden, weeding, tidying, pruning and cutting back.

Mulching the garden
Gardeners mulching
Mulching the garden

The beds have then been fed with organic chicken manure pellets and then mulched with Killerton's own compost made on site. The compost is a mixture of wood chip, grass cuttings and herbaceous material from the gardens. It is regularly turned to aid mixing and decomposition. It can take  two to three years to make a good vintage. A good layer of mulch helps to supress weed growth, provide nutrients for the soil, improves soil structure and helps to retain moisture. Its dark colour also looks great against the colour of new foliage.

The team will also be carrying out some spring lawn care. After making the first cuts during April, the team will scarify during May using a ride-on scarifier. Combining flail blades and scarifying blades the scarifier cuts and collects thatch, weeds and moss out of the lawns.

Giving the lawns their first trim
Gardener on a lawn mower
Giving the lawns their first trim

Scarifying also encourages new grass growth and promotes a thicker, more lush sward which will result in a happier, healthier and more robust lawn.

Elsewhere around the garden

As spring marches on, so the risk of frost decreases and it is during May that the garden team will plant out the display of tender perennials in the beds at the east end of the terrace, by the old front door to the house. The team propagate all the plants for this display in their nursery. Propagation starts in autumn when cuttings are taken. They are then potted on and allowed to grow for several months until they fill their pot.

Helping plants during the colder months.
Plants growing in a greenhouse.
Helping plants during the colder months.

They are then potted on again to allow them to develop into larger plants that will make more of an instant impact upon planting and to stand up to garden pests such as slugs and snails. The range of plants changes from year to year. New plants are brought on from seed every year. Poor growers are not propogated again and some stock plants are lost to natural causes every so often. This year's plants are almost ready to go.

The main garden and the chapel  grounds take up the vast majority of the gardeners' time. However they are not the only areas that the team look after. The estate covers a large area that includes the village of Broadclyst where the gardeners care for three public recreation areas. Additionally, the gardeners also care for Coulmbjohn Chapel which lies about a mile to the west of the main garden.

A delightful spot to visit
Columbjohn Chapel
A delightful spot to visit

This delightful little chapel, built by the Aclands in the 1800s, sits on the site of the original manor house and chapel acquired by the Aclands during the 16th century. Many of the family are buried here. Sited on the banks of the River Culm, it is well worth a visit.

We hope you enjoy your visit, and if you have any questions for the team please do stop us and ask.

Karl, Head Gardener