Notes from a Cot­tage Gar­den

This England - - News - Rose­mary Pet­ti­grew

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.

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