November’s Winter Garden Update
The winter is one of our busiest times in the garden, as we prepare for the forthcoming season and we put the garden to bed to get ready for Spring.
After an extremely mild October, the weather has begun to turn more wintry. With the castle and grounds closed to the public, the gardens are much quieter (although we are still open for visitors and happy to meet you if there are gardening questions you have).
Floors Walled Garden is unique in that we are lucky enough to still retain some of the original purely herbaceous borders so popular in Edwardian times with many of the borders being laid out in the early 1900s. These types of border are becoming more rare, as mixed borders become more popular, so looking after them and the special plants growing there are a priority. We have started the work of cutting back the borders – starting with the Spring Border in October, moving onto the Summer Border in November followed by the Tapestry Garden and finally the Hot Border in November/December time. It’s good for our pre-Christmas diet regimes!
It looks brutal at first, but once the borders are tidied, mulched, plants divided, replanted and gaps filled in the structure is clear to see and they are quite beautiful.
The rambling roses which line the borders in the garden are a particular feature in the summer – planted (we think) in the 1920’s – we have two varieties: Dorothy Perkin and American Pillar (both disliked intently by Vita Sackville West but regaining some popularity now as the brighter bolder colours become more fashionable again) which ramble along chains strung between posts. We undo these, detangle, prune and retie the strongest shoots onto the chains to encourage a lush display next summer.
Finally, November is the time that we tie and train our plum trees. Growing on the East facing wall, we carefully tie all the new growth into the wires with string and develop the fan shape so the fruit can form and ripen effectively next season. It’s a long job but one that is immensely satisfying and rather zen like as you focus on each and every shoot being placed just so! Some of these trees are over 100 years old and when the job is complete they look stunning. We have found some old labels attached to the walls and it appears that the suppliers of our fruit trees in the 20’s were the Laxton Brothers who were notable horticulturists, concentrating on fruit production introducing several new fruits such as Laxton’s Delicious Plum Tree and the award-winning Lord Lambourne apple which are also growing here at Floors.
Although most of the flowers are gone now – you can still see some beautiful blooms in the glasshouses, including Plectranthus, Chrysanthemum, Clematis, Cyclamen and Carnations plus the grasses are at their best and look out for the unusual hips belonging to Rosa Moyesii “Geranium” in the Tapestry Garden and Nicandra physalodes “Black Pod” at the end of the Hot Border for its strange black speckled seed pods – rather like Chinese Lanterns but deadly poisonous!