Winter is often seen as a time of ‘what can you do in the garden at this time of the year’, well for us at Knebworth, there is plenty to do and never enough time. But before I talk about what the gardeners here have been up to, I should introduce myself to you all as I am the new head gardener here at Knebworth gardens and I with the team here will be doing our very best to make sure the gardens are enjoyed by the family that live here still and for you the visitor.
My first task here apart from getting to know the gardens, was for the team to put the gardens to bed for the winter. One of the tasks that the Assistant head gardener Matt and the team did just before I started was to wrap up our fountains as to stop frost damage, fleece the tender plants such as our Bananas and wrap up the tree ferns as this part of Britain is at risk of a harsh frost which could in turn kill our tender plants, so we take no risks on this matter.
The next job on the list was to improve the soil where we can as we like to adopt an organic approach where possible here in the gardens with the saying “if you look after the soil, the soil will look after the plants” that’s what we hope and so far so good. We mulched the kitchen garden with just an inch of homemade compost to boost the soil and protect from soil leaching nutrients from rain, but instead it washes into the soil or the worms dig it in for us.
Our Lime tree walks that Sir Edwin Lutyens designed in 1911 were due their haircut this February and this took us six full days of pollarding and it is a very satisfying job as you feel like the light has been allowed back in. We do this every other year as it is good to give the tree a rest one year but also these trees remember are over one hundred years old and we like to do our best to look after them.
The team have been very busy prepping the rose garden, the blue garden and gold garden by cutting back of plant material, moving and designing the borders and of course more mulching to which again good for the soil but also to me like a new carpet being laid out. The Roses get pruned twice, once in November to prevent wind rock and another in late March which is their final prune to get them ready for our season ahead.
But all going well we should be all ready for our opening on the 12th of March so I hope to see you here exploring the gardens and of course enjoying them.