A beau­ti­fully re­stored walled kitchen gar­den is the beat­ing heart of a great coun­try house

The Sunday Telegraph - Sunday - - Life Gardening -

why would you want to grow them? I asked Michael Mar­riot of David Austin Roses (who is in­volved or has been con­sulted in both sets of tri­als), to sug­gest his best roses for dis­ease re­sis­tance com­bined with ap­peal. For an Ice­berg sub­sti­tute he rec­om­mends the white, ex­cel­lent re­peater Susan Wil­liams-El­lis. A top yel­low is Teas­ing Ge­or­gia, with Princess Alexan­dra of Kent (pink) and the most re­cent pink Olivia Rose Austin also high on his list. I would add Mun­stead Wood as I love the dam­son/pur­ple colour and it does well on my light, dry soil. If you want great roses, you do need to tend them well in the first cou­ple of years to get them es­tab­lished. In dry pe­ri­ods their roots will not be suf­fi­ciently de­vel­oped to keep them in top form. Even in early Oc­to­ber this year I was still wa­ter­ing roses I planted two au­tumns ago. When you plant a bare-root rose make sure that the graft is 2in (50mm) be­low the soil. This deeper plant­ing will not en­cour­age suck­er­ing as the cur­rent root­stock is usu­ally R. laxa, which rarely suck­ers. Nowa­days few of us grow roses as solid blocks to­gether, which does help to pre­vent the spread of dis­ease. But, if you are mix­ing roses with herba­ceous plants, don’t let them get too close to the rose roots or they will out-com­pete them for mois­ture and feed. One highly re­spected el­derly lady gar­dener told me that she adds three loads of ma­nure to her roses a year, but Michael Mar­riot ques­tions the value of do­ing this. When the plants at the David Austin rose gar­den were look­ing a lit­tle sad, they had the soil an­a­lysed by NRM Lab­o­ra­to­ries (tests for pH, potas­sium, phos­phate and mag­ne­sium cost about £9.50; visit NRM.uk.com). A huge build-up of potas­sium and phos­phate was found in the soil, which was lock­ing up other nu­tri­ents. Some­times peo­ple add so much fer­tiliser you get re­verse os­mo­sis, and the plant wilts as a re­sult. A rec­om­mended fer­tiliser is Vi­tax Q4, which may be used along­side a slow-re­lease ni­tro­gen-based one to aid good growth dur­ing es­tab­lish­ment. For im­prov­ing soil struc­ture I pre­fer lo­calau­thor­ity green waste to ma­nure as it is weed-free. Fo­liar feeds are good if you want to go to town and Michael rec­om­mends SB Plant In­vig­o­ra­tor or Maxi­crop (seaweed-based), both great on many gar­den plants. In the US, re­search sug­gests that scat­ter­ing maize flour around your roses helps to pre­vent black spot. Ap­par­ently other fungi de­velop from it, which con­trol the dis­ease. Once your roses are set­tled in, how long should you ex­pect them to last? One fab­u­lous gar­den full of 30year-old roses had to re­plant them all (for other rea­sons) and they went on to give ex­cel­lent value. Keep an eye on them – the life­span of your roses will de­pend on how well you are tend­ing them, and on your site and soil. Maybe after 15 years you han­ker after a change of rose va­ri­eties. Should you worry about re­plant dis­ease? This is a prob­lem that af­fects new roses planted on soil where roses have been grown be­fore. Michael and David Austin dif­fer on this. David thinks re­place­ment of soil is best, Michael thinks re­plac­ing a few spade­fuls and adding my­c­or­rhizal fungi can work. As with so many as­pects of gar­den­ing, the choice is yours. Sarah Raven’s new favourite dahlias at

Flower beds may be the frilly pet­ti­coats around a coun­try house but, to me, the heart is its kitchen gar­den – and a re­cent visit to Gravetye Manor, in West Sus­sex, pro­duced a real plum. De­signed by Wil­liam Robin­son at the turn of the last cen­tury, this is one of the last large-scale veg­etable gar­dens to be built in this coun­try. It’s a relic of a golden age when labour was cheap and space wasn’t at a pre­mium. Legend has it that the soil for this 1½-acre el­lip­ti­cal plot was im­ported by the cart­load. The south-fac­ing hill­side spot is at the per­fect an­gle to catch the light and the sun’s warmth, so that bumper crops could be har­vested from the two main beds that follow the shel­ter of the 12ft sand­stone walls. Thanks to the pas­sion of Gravetye owner Jeremy Hosking, a re­cent restora­tion has res­cued this gar­den. Head gar­dener Tom Coward de­cided the only way to bring his plot back to life was to spray kill the weeds, leave the beds fal­low for a while, and then start again with a blank can­vas. This kitchen gar­den’s unique her­itage dic­tated that his­tory should be re­spected, and it’s there now in all its beauty, sup­ply­ing the manor – an award-win­ning ho­tel – with vegetables, herbs and fruit. The di­ver­sity of pro­duce en­cour­ages wildlife that helps with pol­li­na­tion. A run of ban­tam hens is moved around the beds, so its oc­cu­pants can fer­tilise and scar­ify, as well as sup­ply­ing the guests with tiny eggs. Tom ex­per­i­ments with old and new va­ri­eties of crops, but ul­ti­mately it’s flavour that de­ter­mines his choice. What is popular in the restau­rant and cooks well in the kitchen wins hands down, and chef George Blogg’s palate is the fi­nal ar­biter. Tom and George get to­gether with the seed cat­a­logues over a pre- … cut­ting and rak­ingmy small mead­owto re­move the thatch. The haystack will rot down to clear a space next year where I can plant new wild­flow­ers.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.