Notes from a Cottage Garden
ne of the lessons of gardening is that things rarely go to plan! Inspired by Sissinghurst, last winter I was full of enthusiasm for creating a white garden of my own. However, this has met with limited success. The white roses I bought turned out to be pale pink most of the time before eventually turning white. However, the white tulips were superb — I planted the bulbs very close together embedded in grit. The flowers contrasted beautifully against the dark green of the surrounding box hedging and lasted for many weeks. I then dug them all out and replanted with white cosmos which looked pretty but lacked the sculptural splendour of the tulips. The cosmos tended to get raggedy looking and needed a lot of effort as the faded blooms had to be deadheaded on a daily basis. The bees liked them though.
The problem with a white garden is that there are all sorts of different whites which don’t always marry well with each other. And then other colours tend to seep in — selfseeded nigella, nasturtiums and borage looked so attractive I couldn’t pull them up. I think you have to be ruthless to have a completely white garden. Next year I will try to make it mainly white with touches of pastel — so the nasturtiums will definitely have to go!
Gardens to Visit
Audley End House and Gardens, Saffron Walden, Essex CB11 4JF. A Jacobean mansion set in magnificent grounds designed by Capability Brown. Winter allows visitors to see the structure of the garden with its evergreen shrubberies, cloud hedges and formal beds. In the parkland beyond there are swathes of daffodils.
Dunham Massey Hall, Woodhouse Lane, Altrincham, Cheshire WA14 4SJ. Opened in 2009, the superb Winter Garden is one of the largest in the country. There are 7 acres carefully designed to provide winter interest with shrubs, trees and evergreens all planted for scent, colour and texture. Towering beeches and oaks are underplanted with thousands of bulbs including snowdrops, cyclamen and iris.
Painswick Rococo Gardens, Gloucester Road, Painswick, Stroud, Gloucestershire GL6 6TH. A theatrical 18th-century garden with spectacular views of the Cotswolds and justly famous for its snowdrop displays.
Making a Mountain out of a Molehill
Thanks to readers, I now have some more ideas to try in my ongoing battles with moles. Don Gillespie from Durban, South Africa advises soaking used, dried teabags in a strong solution of garlic paste and water, then inserting several tea bags into the ends of the tunnels making sure that the earth is piled up over them to eliminate air pockets. Don tells me that this method worked in his garden and he has had no trouble since. Audrey Chapman of Darlington uses dog poo instead but as I don’t have a dog this isn’t going to work! Other readers have suggested inserting battery-powered and solar-powered stakes into the runs. These make a buzzing noise that apparently the mole can’t stand. Yet another solution is a mole smoker that sends castor-oil fumes down the mole tunnels. That should make them run! Alternatively I could take the online advice of the RSPCA who look on the bright side of having moles in the garden as it increases soil aeration.