Gardeners cuttings from Sissinghurst Castle Garden
April brings many joys to the garden. New leaves add delicacy and the returning green lifts the spirit of the entire garden (and the gardeners).
Daylight returns while the light from the sun remains soft and low, highlighting the delicacy of spring perfectly. And of course, the bulbs reach their peak, with tulips and daffodils in full glory. Thousands of bulbs were planted early last winter, many are for pot displays and newly planted areas, but we also constantly top up existing groups in borders to keep the display strong. We often combine tulips with spring flowering biennials like wallflowers and sweet rocket. Both fill the air with sweet fragrance, which adds another layer of enjoyment to the garden.
The Orchard is one of the highlights of the garden in April, with fruit trees in blossom and a sea of daffodils at their feet. Its soft romance is well juxtaposed against the straight lines and feisty colours of the Lime Walk, an area designed for spring. We are currently working through beds here on an annual basis to remove Crocus tommasinianus, which has spread from the Orchard. While a beautiful sight in flower, their foliage diminishes the overall effect and they squeeze out choice bulbs. Last summer the lower two beds had the first six inches of soil removed, below the greatest depth the crocus bulbs are found. Drainage was then added and the soil de-compacted, topped up and improved, with new bulbs planted later in December. In a few years Lime Walk should be completely renewed and look much better for it.
Lime Walk takes you to what must be one of Sissinghurst’s most beautiful moments: the Nuttery in spring. Transparent, pure, new leaves of the hazels appear like green lace, ferns unfurl in lime green splendour and woodland plants flow through the space like streams, criss-crossing into a rich, but calm tapestry of green and white and yellow. Last year we expanded the planting into the southern side, which was previously grass. It will be fantastic to watch this mature and add a new dimension to this space.
All this new growth brings much work and spring requires a new mind frame of work compared to winter, as you find yourself needing to be in many places at once, dealing with the rush of new life. Weeds need kept on top of, new growth needs controlled, and new plants are constantly being propagated, potted on and hardened off ready for our next wave of planting. We are very fortunate to have a nursery on site to grow all these plants. Many are grown from seed collected in previous years from the garden, keeping a genetic link that for some plants runs back decades. Thousands of plants are produced every year and excess is sold to visitors, just as Vita used to.