I’m going to start with an invitation, well more of plea really to come along to West Dean soon to admire the wild flowers in the gardens and arboretum – it really is a delightful show and like all good things will come to an end soon. Although managing wildflower meadows can be a challenge, the rewards are enormously colourful and bountiful and along with spring bird song just makes you feel alive.
Colour is about to spring forth from the all the mixed borders – in front of the college and pergola and within the walls of the walled garden too. These borders are designed to let rip from June onwards reaching their united flower power in summer through to autumn. Recent gapping up with tender perennials by Anne the border queen, ensures that soon, hardly any soil will be seen.
Shaun the kitchen gardener has been whizzing around the kitchen garden erecting support structures for peas and beans – even asparagus fern is supported with posts and string. Newly planted cucurbits are protected from wind and rain by barn cloches which act as mini glasshouses and these plants like us are waiting for summer weather… well it is June after all! Recent squalls have shown just how vulnerable vegetable plants can be, so good support and protection is a must.
Throwing some shapes
William and Stuart, the two woodies, are continuing with the summer pruning of our topiarised shapes throughout the gardens to keep them well defined. These topiarised lumps and bumps contrast happily with the abundant froth of the long wild flower sward and act as a unifying feature along the length of our long thin garden. It’s interesting to note that the shapes outside the front door of the college have been growing there for over 100 years so there is a precedent for growing plants in this way at West Dean.
weed do you think you’re going?!
Jack the border patrol man and his merry team of volunteers have been wreaking havoc on weeds throughout the garden and thank goodness they have been because with recent rain, it’s a constant battle to keep the weed growth under control at this time of year. Much of the recent herbaceous planting is thriving and looking quite luxurious as is the recently replanted sunken garden – so make sure you walk around all of it to enjoy Jack’s handy work as well as the plantings.
After a six month hiatus summer bedding has returned to the beds west of the College. This year the display is made up of an unsubtle colour combination of reds, golds, browns and white through rudbeckias, begonias, salvias and dahlias – so in the summer bring your sunglasses you’ll need them to cope with the dazzle!
No time to chill…i
Under glass the chillies, aubergines and tomatoes are in their summer residence. We now move from the production phase of the year where we sow and grow-on plants, to one of maintenance, where we look after what we’ve sown earlier in the year. The 1st of June acts as the turn-around date when all glasshouse displays should be in place for us to manage and maintain. In terms of management this involves using biological control agents to control pests, feeding, thinning, dead-heading and tying in various crops on a regular basis. No resting on laurels at West Dean Gardens this Summer!
Sarah Wain, Garden Supervisor, 1 June 2015
West Dean Gardens* is part of The Edward James Foundation which also comprises West Dean College, West Dean Estate and the West Dean Tapestry Studio. Charity No. 1126084. www.westdean.org.uk