This Winter has been full of activity and preparation for the Garden Team. As Spring approaches, our Head Gardener, Andrew Humphris, provides an update on what has been happening, as well as what’s in store.
“Winter in a large garden such as Parham’s is always a very busy time, and this year it has been busier than ever as the team have worked hard on renovating the borders which had been affected by the extensive bindweed issue”, Andrew explains.
“Many of the areas that were sprayed at the end of last year, including the Rose Garden and the far end of the Blue Border, were in need of clearing. The display house borders, the dry garden bed, and part of the Entrance Border have seen significant progress – these areas have now been dug and the last of the bindweed removed. With this important preparation now complete, we are very pleased that we’ve have been able to start planting.”
He added: “We have already planned out the Entrance Border, which will start to take shape in the coming weeks. It is very exciting to be putting the Garden back together, and we’re focussing on one area at a time.”
This year, Andrew and his team have also created a new cut flower shrub and herbaceous border along the east wall, which is currently being planted. This new bed, as well as the bed of annuals grown especially for cutting, will supply all the flowers for the many beautiful flower arrangements in the House throughout the season.
In the Orchard, the Garden Team have finished pruning all the apple trees and have planted some new varieties of old Sussex apples to fill in a few of the open spaces.
Moving into the next few weeks, the focus of the team will be to prepare the beds at the crossroads between the Blue Border and the Gold Border, as well as the first half of the Blue Border itself. Planting these areas will begin in the Spring.
Roses and Clematis have traditionally formed a big part of the planting in the Walled Garden, and Andrew, with the close involvement of Lady Emma and Mr Barnard, has now started to reintroduce many varieties of both, also consulting an historic planting plan drawn by hand by Lady Emma’s great-aunt Mrs Tritton in the 1960s. Andrew commented: “We are also working with the Clematis Society to take on part of their Clematis Montana collection, which they are redistributing from the existing National Collection holder.”
There is no shortage of other activities in the Gardens. With help from some of Parham’s dedicated volunteers, the Garden Team have been industriously potting and preparing a range of perennials for sale in the Garden Shop ready for when the House and Gardens open on Easter Sunday. These plants will spend the next few weeks growing under careful eye of the experienced team, to ensure they are in the best condition possible for the coming season.
The day to day work of maintaining order within the Walled Garden and Pleasure Grounds also continues, and this year there is even more to do than usual in the aftermath of Storm Eunice. The strong winds in February knocked over part of the trellis along the Entrance Border and blew out some panes of glass in various greenhouses, not to mention scattering small branches and debris all over the eleven acre site. All in all, Parham weathered the storm well and there is a palpable sense of relief amongst the team that matters were not considerably worse. “We were very lucky, and got away comparatively lightly”, says Andrew.
“Seed sowing for the annual cut flowers, the Vegetable Garden and the annuals for pots is also well under way and will continue through the Spring. It has been a mild Winter so far and some plants are starting to grow already. We’re keeping our fingers crossed that the colder weather does not come in April again, like last year!”
It promises to be a very exciting and rewarding year for the Garden, and we are all looking forward very much to watching it take shape.