Gardeners cuttings from Sissinghurst Castle Garden

The Lime Walk in spring

For the gardeners at Sissinghurst, March is a significant month. After months of the garden being closed, we finally swing open the huge oak doors and welcome visitors back to the garden.

For us, it is also the final chapter of our winter work when we put the finishing touches to the garden, forking the beds, washing all the labels, removing weeds from the paths and doing any late pruning of tender shrubs. Spring is usually well on the way when we open, and there is always a feeling of hope and optimism in the garden team as we finally say goodbye to another winter and start to look forward to the season ahead.

Our winter work often includes project work too, and this year from late February we have been planting up a new area of the Nuttery that has recently been created.

A view of the boat house in the orchard
A view of the boat house in the orchard
A view of the boat house in the orchard

The preparation of this area began last year with the removal of the turf, and mulching of the whole area. We could see at this stage that the soil was heavy clay, and it was no surprise that when it was dug again in autumn, it proved to be a challenging task. However, frost is a great ally for a garden with heavy soil and over the winter the frost worked its magic, breaking down the large clay lumps. As planting time approached more mulch was ordered and incorporated into the soil before our order of approximately 3000 plants arrived. We followed a design drawn up by Pete, one of the gardeners, who used the existing plants in the Nuttery as a reference point, repeating them in the new extension. Although the two areas will be separated by a new path, the planting will look like it has flowed across from the Nuttery and in this way the two halves will become a cohesive whole.

It was really interesting to see how he had built up layers of planting starting with bulbs, corms and tubers such as Allium moly, Anemone nemorosa, Crocus sativus, Erythronium pagoda and Fritillaria meleagris. This was followed by perennials such as Omphalodes cappadocica, Epimediums, Trilliums, Veratrums and Geraniums. Ferns such as Matteuccia struthiopteris and Onoclea sensibilis are key plants in the Nuttery and these have been repeated too. There are also annuals, biennials and self-seeders, such as foxgloves, that will be allowed to roam around, as well as some classic ‘wanderers’ such as cowslips, violets and primroses.

The Nuttery has always reminded me of a tapestry of flowers; complex and intricate but forming a beautiful whole. We hope that you enjoy watching this new tapestry grow and evolve over the next few years.