Gardeners cuttings from Sissinghurst Castle Garden

A view of the tower from the orchard

After an extraordinarily hot and dry summer, in which the roses came and went in the blink of an eye, the gardeners’ thoughts now turn away from planting and staking towards the late summer work of meadow scything, hedge cutting and collecting seed for the nursery.

Sissinghurst now has a number of meadows, both in and around the garden, and these will all need work during August. Some areas, such as the orchard and the front section of the plain, are transitioning from utility grass to perennial meadow. The orchard meadow work was begun three years ago, while the plain was started last year. We are now seeing more diverse perennial meadow species coming through in the orchard which means that once the orchard is cut, some of the green hay (which contains lots of seed) can be strewn onto the pre-prepared plain. Cutting the orchard meadow and collecting up the hay will take the whole team of gardeners as well as our dedicated meadow volunteers. We use hand scythes and a reciprocating mower, and all the hay has to be removed either for strewing or for composting.

Having already trimmed some box and hornbeam in the Rose Garden, Cottage Garden and Lime Walk, work will now begin on the yew hedges.

We tend to work in pairs when cutting hedges and trim the sides first, before moving on to the tops.

They are cut once, annually, starting on August 1st and finishing by late autumn. To achieve a precise finish we use carefully measured lines, spirit levels and plum bobs. We also use rechargeable, battery operated hedge cutters as they are quieter and less restrictive than working around cables and generators while the garden is open.

As summer nears its end, general upkeep of the borders continues with weeding, deadheading, cutting down and seed collecting. Every garden room has its own dedicated gardener who is responsible for gathering all the seed from their area. Over the next few weeks, paper bags full of seed heads will begin to accumulate in the nursery. This will form the bulk of all the plant stock grown for the garden or available to buy from the plant shop.