Gardeners cuttings from Sissinghurst Castle Garden

A winter's day in the herb garden

By the time the January arrives the gardeners hope to have finished pruning all the wall roses and are progressing though the beds in the Rose Garden.

As well as pruning the shrub roses in the beds, many more roses have been planted in the Rose Garden since 2014 and as we work through the beds decisions have to be made on whether the new roses should be left free standing, tied to a pole or grown on a structure.  All the prunings from the roses and the old rose leaves are cleared up and burnt, rather than adding them to the compost heaps, to reduce the risk of spreading diseases.

Other work taking place in the garden this year includes planting up the new, extended section of the Nuttery. The planting will be a reflection of the original Nuttery with some new plants to suit the more open aspect of the site.  Many plants, including geraniums and ferns have been lifted and divided over the last year, to create more plants that have been potted on and are currently waiting in the nursery ready to be planted out when needed.

We make enough of our own garden compost to dig into areas to be planted up with annuals and also spread around all the roses and ‘hungry’ plants such as clematis, lilies and paeonies.  In addition we like to try and mulch as many beds as possible but that is very dependent on how much time we have and the amount of compost available. Mulching with compost or manure not only keeps the soil healthy by adding bulk but also supresses weeds and retains moisture.

As January progresses clumps of snow drops begin to push through the soil and if you are able to visit Sissinghurst later in February and do the tour of South Cottage you will walk past a bed of bright yellow Eranthus hyemalis (Winter aconites) flowering just outside the cottage.  It is also worth a look at the large tree outside the cottage that is surrounded by the aconites, it is Parrotia Persica (Persian ironwood) and if you look carefully you will see the tiny dark red flowers which can look lovely against a blue sky.  

As we are working through the beds it is lovely to see the first signs of new growth pushing through the soil. You realise that spring is not so far away.