Gardeners cuttings from Sissinghurst Castle Garden

Sissinghurst gardeners team , Gardeners Sissinghurst gardeners team Gardeners
Winter work in the garden at Sissinghurst

The last two months of the year are my favourite ‘cold’ months. It is deep autumn and although the days are shortening and the temperature slowly falling, there is a magically mellow atmosphere in the garden, as it slowly falls asleep. But whilst the garden may sleep, there is no such luxury for the gardeners.

The shortening days and falling temperatures are the cue for us to start preparing for Spring. Precious tender plants such as Dahlias, Mirabilis jalapa and Geranium madarense are lifted into the warm safety of the glasshouses, and the empty spaces known as ‘diggeries’ are filled with compost and planted up with wallflowers, Hesperis matronalis and other biennials. Through these we weave Narcissus and tulip bulbs to create a complex tapestry of different colours and heights. We plant thousands of bulbs every year and imagining how everything will fit together harmoniously in the tidal wave of Spring is one of the joys of autumn gardening.

The gardeners also tackle the annual task of rose pruning, beginning with the wall roses. We always start with ‘Mme Alfred Carrière’ on the front of South Cottage, so that we can plant up the narrow beds in front of the Cottage with wallflowers, without the fear of damaging them later with ladders and tumbling rose cuttings.

We move through the garden pruning all the wall roses, bending the new stems into an arc to stimulate the growth of side shoots and therefore increase flowering. If you are visiting during the week you will almost certainly see at least one or two gardeners up ladders pruning, and as the season progresses the roses with be transformed from an unruly mass of stems into a beautiful pattern of curves and arcs that bounce along the rosy walls.

In addition to these major tasks, there are also expeditions to the woods to collect chestnut poles and visits to our Nuttery outside the garden to collect hazel. These products will be used in January when we prune the roses in the Rose Garden, training them onto chestnut structures and hazel benders. But more of that in January. Right now, there’s the small matter of four thousand bulbs to be planted. We’d better get on with it!