Wow! What a difference warm weather makes to a garden! So far this summer the flower display in the cutting garden and on the borders in the Walled Garden is looking fantastic with the rudbeckia trial taking pride of place. Beneficial insects and butterflies are having a field day too. However lots of sun means that watering is high on our list of daily activities, particularly in the glasshouses; but with willing hands- including those of volunteers, we get through it each day in reasonable time.
This year the Sunken Garden is attracting a lot of attention from garden visitors and the press. Many visitors are astonished that it is now complete after years of being in a state of ruin and Jim Buckland the gardens manager, with his beady eye, is keeping the exuberant plant growth under control. Like many planting schemes it was overplanted initially for immediate effect and now requires a considered eye to remove the excess. All the hard work re-establishing the sunken garden was recognised recently with a Sussex Heritage Trust Award – hoorah!
Summer fruit tree pruning takes place through July and early August, current season’s growth is removed to help form fruit bearing spurs and to bring the shape of trained fruit back into line. Have you seen the splendid fruit tree shapes created in the Kitchen Garden? Many are reaching maturity and are dead easy to create for yourself at home if they take your fancy. I believe the magic ingredient is brown coated electric flex which bends easily into those lovely shapes you see and onto which you tie your branch or stem to form the shape.
The latter part of July was taken up with shearing the wild flower displays in the Arboretum. These displays get better and better each year. If you are a regular walker in the Arboretum then you will appreciate the progression through the seasons and about now we’re beginning to look towards autumn and the colour that brings. St. Roche’s Arboretum-still a great place for a walk, stroll or stomp- your choice, and the exercise there and back, will work up an appetite for one of those delicious cakes and the requisite cup of tea in the Gardens Restaurant when you return.
During the early part of this month a lot of weeding and tidying takes place all over the gardens as the team prepares for the Chilli Fiesta August 8-10th. The wild flower grasslands are razed in time for tents and stall holders and hopefully the weather will hold as it makes the experience so much more pleasant for everyone and encourages a more carnival atmosphere- which is not normally found in West Sussex that’s for sure. Of course if you are camping then calm sunny weather is a must for a superior experience, so although a drop of rain would be nice right now not for the Fiesta please!
This year’s West Dean Chilli Fiesta 8-10th August promises to be a fantastic three day event with a much wider programme of entertainment than before. Never been? Not your thing? Why not come along and see for yourself, and do come and say hello to me- I’ll be delivering growing demonstrations throughout the weekend- see West Dean website for details. http://www.westdean.org.uk/chilli