Tag Archives: Gardening

The Harold Comber Collection

We are very proud to announce that Nymans Estate has been awarded Plant Heritage status for its Harold Comber Collection. Harold Comber was the son of the first Head Gardener, James Comber, and he collected plants in the Andes and Tasmania in the mid-1920’s.

Harold Comber

Harold Comber

The collection consists of 60 taxa that are either the original plants he collected, or propagated from those originals. His legacy plays an important role at Nymans as we endeavour to maintain the collection as well as add to it.

Chilean Border - August 2013 (2)

Desfontainea spinosa

A form of Desfontainea (pictured above) was collected by Harold in Chile and it is our job to make sure we propagate such plants so they can always be seen at Nymans, and also to make available a stock of such plants to the wider horticultural community.

Myrceugenia leptospermoides 3

Myrceugenia leptospermoides

We also aim to build on this legacy by introducing newly collected plants from these countries. The Chilean plant above came to us via Martin Gardiner of Edinburgh Botanic Garden. This plant is endangered in it’s native habitat.

Weinmannia trichosperma 2

Weinmannia trichosperma

Weinmannia is another Chilean plant, rare in cultivation, that thrives in the shelter of our Walled Garden. Last year we created a new border for Chilean plants in the Walled Garden and we have some new plants to add  to our collection this year including Escallonia x stricta ‘Harold Comber’ and Luma apiculata ‘Nana’ which was a gift from Plant Heritage.

Jon Keen, Gardener.

Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under Botany, Chilean Plants, Garden History, Plant collections, Plants and Planting, Tasmanian Plants, Uncategorized

Indian Summers and Chile Autumns

October is off to a mild start this year and this gives some of our rarer plants at Nymans a chance to shine.

Indian Summer.

In our Indian summer border we have a rare shrub called Rostrinincula dependens whose delicate mauve flowers have just started to open upon pendulous racemes.

rostrinincula 4

If the weather stays fine the flowers should open fully serving as a nectar bar for insects and providing contrasting flower form and colour in the border.Here it is mingling with pink Sedum ‘Herbstfreude’, Aster ‘Purple Cloud’ and the variegated grass foliage of Miscanthus ‘Morning Light’.

Rostrinincula 2

Chile Autumns.

As the summer eats into autumn, rarities from our Chilean plant collection have a final flourish.Greigia sphacelata is a rare pineapple relative from the Chilean Andes with architectural foliage.

DSC_0707

Our specimen was planted 3 years ago and flowered for the first time this year in September. The flowers are rather lost at the base of the foliage but I’m hoping that the flowers will ripen into fruit (known as chupones in Chile) as they are said to be sweet and delicious. Fingers crossed!

DSC_0686

Another Chilean rarity is Myrseugenia leptospermoides which is a small, evergreen, shrub in the Myrtle family that is endangered in it’s native habitat. This year it flowered prolifically.

DSC_0696

The close-up below shows it flowering and fruiting simultaneously. This plant has provided us with quite a few seedlings that I hope to transplant to other locations in the garden.

DSC_0697

Also from Chile hails a plant called Bomarea caldassii. This twining perennial climber is related to Alstroemeria. It’s stems will snake their way through the lower branches of trees and shrubs and then terminate in a multi-flowered head of bright scarlet tubular flowers. Exotic and hardy.

bomarea 3

Our job as gardeners is to try and locate the many and diverse plants we grow in their best locations for them to perform but it does help if the weather can give us a helping hand, extending the growing season for as long as possible.

Author: Jon Keen, Gardener.

Leave a comment

Filed under Herbaceous Borders, Plant collections, Plants and Planting

Workin’ On The Wild Side

Every February the garden team escapes from the lawns and borders of the formal garden and heads off into the woods and the wild garden to coppice hazel (Corylus avellana). Ditching secateurs and spades we take up pruning saws and loppers to cut hundreds of pea-sticks which we’ll use as plant supports in our garden borders; hazel  branches are the ideal material .

Volunteer Wendy cutting pea-sticks

Volunteer Wendy cutting pea-sticks

So how do we coppice a pea-stick? Coppicing is a traditional term for cutting a tree or shrub down to ground level, or a low framework, in order to let the plant re-generate. The branches are naturally fan-shaped and with a little pruning to size are perfect for peas to grow through, hence the name, but can also be used as natural plant supports for tall annual and perennial plants in the border. Look-out for future blogs where you will see us placing the pea-sticks in the borders.

 Wendy with freshly cut pea-stick

Wendy with freshly cut pea-stick

This year we have the benefit of a new battery-powered chainsaw. This is much less noisy than a petrol chainsaw and less disruptive to the tranquility of the woodland setting so much so that while we were there we enjoyed the cries of two buzzards circling overhead and the occasional rat-a-tat-tat-ing of a woodpecker. 

The chainsaw doesn’t use forest fuels or emit any fumes and in future we’re hoping to re-charge it with solar panels as we already do with our battery-powered hedge-trimmers. . Nor is there any waste created because any material the Garden Team cannot use as  pea-sticks will be taken up by the Woods Team to make all manner of products in their workshop. Woodland products are available to buy from the Plant Centre all year round and surplus pea-sticks  are available from spring onwards.

Coppicing Hazel with a battery powered chainsaw.

Coppicing Hazel with a battery powered chainsaw.

Another benefit of coppicing is that it lets light into the forest floor providing an opportunity for our native flora to flourish. You can expect to see primroses (Primula vulgaris), celandine (Ficaria verna), wood spurge (Euphorbia amygdaloides) and our coveted English bluebell (Hyacinthoides non-scripta) re-colonise the ground as the hazel re-generates. It’ll be at least seven years before we return to this same spot in the woods to repeat the cycle.

Rest and recuperation for staff and volunteers.

Rest and recuperation for staff and volunteers.

4 Comments

Filed under Botany, Garden History, Garden jobs, Plants and Planting, Winter interest

Seven Wonders of Winter

Seven Wonders of Winter

You would be mistaken to think that winter holds little interest in the garden. As described in our previous blog there is much to grab your attention. Here are seven specific plants that are wonderful in the winter and can be seen at Nymans this February.

 

Winter wonder 1

Parrotia perscia

Parrotia perscia

Parrotia perscia is an elegant tree with steely grey branches that bare blood red flowers on bare stems in the depth of winter. You do however have to search these flowers out as they are not immediately obvious. They say good things come in small packages, and yes these little flowers are truly delightful.

 

Winter wonder 2

Cyclamen coum

Cyclamen coum

Cyclamen coum is a true stalwart of the winter garden. They have reflexed petals ranging from deep carmine to pure white, all with a dark purple blotch at their base. The leaves vary in shape and mottling to create a marble effect of pewters, silvers and gem like greens. They are a vision on a frosty morning peeping through a crispy frost to warm your spirits.

 

Winter wonder 3

Camellia ‘Maud Messel’

Camellia ‘Maud Messel’

Camellia ‘Maud Messel’ is currently in full flower with its pink semi double flowers that have a centre of golden yellow stamens; this is set off by rich deep green foliage. It is a wonderful surprise as you exit the forecourt garden that Maud herself originally designed back in the 1920s.

 

Winter wonder 4

Hamamelis x intermedia ‘Pallida’

Hamamelis x intermedia ‘Pallida’

Hamamelis x intermedia ‘Pallida’, it is not surprising that ‘Pallida’ is the most popular Witch Hazel with its profusion of wonderfully scented spidery sulphur yellow flowers borne on bare stems. Its flowers have an iridescent glow on a bleak winter’s day that is a sight to behold.

 

Winter wonder 5

Libertia peregrinans

Libertia peregrinans

Libertia peregrinans has fans of sword like leaves with a prominent orange midrib that set the borders a light. They originate from down under and bring a taste of the Antipodean to Nymans. Outside of winter they have saucer shaped white flowers and orange seed capsules.

 

Winter wonder 6

Miscanthus sinensis ‘Morning Light’

Miscanthus sinensis ‘Morning Light’

Miscanthus sinensis ‘Morning Light’ has upright stems and graceful arching foliage; it is a grass that adds grace and stature to the winter garden. The cream and green foliage, together with pinkish inflorescences of summer, dry to golden hues in the winter sun.

 

Winter wonder 7

Tilia x europa

Tilia x europa

Tilia x europa, these stately Lime trees are situated on our east drive as you approach the burnt out ruins of the house. In the low sun they create great atmosphere with their long shadows and deeply fluted trunks. Nymans is all about drama and atmosphere and these grand old trees encapsulate that vision perfectly on a distinctly chilly February morning.

 

Why not visit us at Nymans to see these seven wonders? If you are having trouble finding any like the small blood red flowers of the Parrotia percsia just ask a gardener and we will pleased to point you in the right direction.

 

1 Comment

Filed under Plants and Planting, Winter interest

Structure, Stems, Seedheads and Scent

Winter! A difficult season for us gardeners. Shortened days, cold weather and lots of tidying. A time of year when it’s easy to miss the beauty of the garden whilst scurrying around wrapped up like an eskimo trying to keep warm. You have to look closely to see the beauty of the garden in winter – it’s all in the detail. 

The bones of the garden really become apparent at this time of year; you start to fully appreciate the Messel family’s design of the garden. Structural hedging and tree placements come into their own, the pivotal nature of the cedar of Lebanon as a key view point down the central axis of the garden becomes a prominent feature.

Morning sunrise behind the Cedrus libani

Morning sunrise behind the Cedrus libani

We have a plethora of hedging around the garden which frames views and vistas as well as defining areas. These are enhanced with a light frost or flurry of snow and some winter sun showing the clean lines us gardeners aim to achieve throughout the hedge cutting season.

Light snow enhances the structure of the Toleberone hedging

Light snow enhances the structure of the Toblerone hedging

The cutting down of the summer borders allows the walled garden to be viewed as whole with the awakening of the bulbs brave enough to face the cold weather as they break through the frosty ground preparing themselves for our Spring display.

Galanthus coming up in the Walled Garden

Galanthus coming up in the Walled Garden

The bold planting of the many Cornus stems are a bright cheery burst of colour with the winter sun shining behind them at an otherwise dull time of year.

Cornus 'Midwinter Fire'

Cornus ‘Midwinter Fire’

The many other stems around the garden which are often overlooked when there is abundance of other things to see are worth hunting out. The attractive peeling papery chestnut bark of the Acer griseum, the snakebark stripes of the Acer davidii, the shining white bark of the Betula utilis var ‘Jaqumontii’, and the beautiful shiny peeling bark of the Prunus serrula. Winter is their moment to shine and shout ‘look at me’.

Acer griseum

Acer griseum

Seedheads left up over winter bring a structural accent to borders as well as providing a much needed habitat for the bugs and food for birds. Compliment these with ornamental grasses and it will provide some much needed winter interest to any garden.

seedheads

photo

Wafts of scented Daphne bhoula, Sarcococca confusa and Lonicera fragrantissima float on the breeze whilst walking around the garden; these heavy scents are typical of winter flowering plants trying to attract as many pollinators as possible at a time when they are at a low. A slightly more unusual winter scented plant to try in your garden would be Osmanthus delavayi ‘Pearly Gates’

Osmanthus delavayi ‘Pearly Gates’

Osmanthus delavayi ‘Pearly Gates’

When next having a winter walk around Nymans look out for the four winter S’s and appreciate the more subtle tones of winter.

2 Comments

Filed under Garden jobs, Plants and Planting, Winter interest

Festive Flora

20141210_092901

Christmas comes but once a year and here at Nymans we are in full swing with our Yuletide celebrations. The gardens obviously play a key role in these festivities and some of our plants that have specific connections to Christmas are currently taking a particular starring role. The Christmas tree itself is obviously one of those horticultural holiday plants but in this week’s blog I’ll also show you some of our more interesting holly and ivy specimens as well as some festive flora that you may be less familiar with.

Holly Corner The most festive part of the garden?

Holly Corner
The most festive part of the garden?

Right at the far end of the gardens here at Nymans you will find a spot we call Holly Corner. Although it affords some amazing views out over the Arboretum, the wider estate and beyond, during most of the year you may not find too many visitors dwelling here for too long when there are so many other beautiful botanic delights elsewhere. December however is when Holly Corner really starts to come into its own. Filled with a huge variety of hollies, including some quite rare examples, now is a great time to come and admire their berries and foliage. Here are some of the highlights…

This gorgeous variegated tree for instance is absolutely laden with fruits...

This gorgeous variegated Ilex aquifolium ‘Aurifodina’ tree for instance is absolutely laden with fruits…

...while the yellow berries on Ilex aquifolium 'Bacciflava' are very unusual

…while the yellow berries on Ilex aquifolium ‘Bacciflava’ are incredibly striking

The leaves on this Ilex aquifolium 'Scotica' are even thornier than the usual holly tree...

The leaves on this Ilex aquifolium ‘Scotica’, also known as the Hedgehog Holly for obvious reasons, are even thornier than your average holly tree with spines on the leaf blade itself…

...while this 'Ferox Argentea' specimen adds a lovely, subtle gilt edge

…while this ‘Ferox Argentea’ specimen adds a lovely, subtle gilt edge

Traditional Christmas carols celebrate the holly and the ivy, but their use as winter decorations predates the Christian festival. The practice of ornamenting the home with holly began with the Romans, who regarded it as an omen of good fortune and a symbol of immortality. As early Christians adopted the practice of decorating with the plant, holly took on religious associations – namely that the spiky leaves represented Christ’s crown of thorns, and the red berries his blood. In fact in Scandinavia holly is still widely known as the Christ Thorn. So intrinsically liked with the Yuletide season is the holly that in some parts of Britain holly was formerly referred to merely as ‘Christmas’, while in pre-Victorian times ‘Christmas trees’ actually meant holly bushes. Early verses of the famous carol hints at holly being a male plant and ivy being female. In some pre-Christian celebrations, a boy would be dressed in a suit of holly leaves (ouch!) and a girl similarly in ivy, to parade around the village, bringing Mother Nature through the darkest part of the year to re-emerge for another year’s fertility come the Spring.

The berries on this Ilex kingiana in the Walled Garden turn a range of beautiful colours as they age

The berries on this Ilex kingiana in the Walled Garden turn a range of beautiful scarlet and purple colours as they age

Holly Corner isn’t the only place where you can find some interesting holly plants, as the above picture of our rare Ilex kingiana holly tree from the Himalayan region goes to show. Introduced to the UK by Sir Joseph Hooker in 1880, this corking holly has impressively large leathery leaves, which are spiny in young plants, as well as larger than normal berries.

The famous holly tubes at Nymans are currently being used as part of our Christmas Trail as you can see here.  Each column is actually made up of several plants.

The famous holly tubes at Nymans are currently being used as part of our Christmas Trail as you can see here. Each column is actually made up of several plants.

Holly was often brought into the house at Christmas to protect the home from malevolent faeries. Whichever of prickly-leaved or smooth-leaved holly was brought into the house first dictated whether the husband or wife respectively were to rule the household for the coming year! Incidentally, were you aware that the prickliness of a holly leaf usually decreases as you go higher up the tree? In Celtic mythology the Holly King was said to rule over the half of the year from the Summer to the Winter solstice, at which time the Oak King defeated the Holly King to rule for the time until the Summer solstice again. The Holly King was depicted as a powerful giant of a man covered in holly leaves and branches, and wielding a holly bush as a club. He may well have been the same archetype on which the Green Knight of Arthurian legend was based, and to whose challenge Gawain rose during the Round Table’s Christmas celebrations.

Holly also makes a great hedge of course, like this whopper lit with Christmas lights near the Book Shop

Holly also makes a great hedge of course, like this whopper lit with Christmas lights near the Book Shop

Did you know that not all hollies are evergreen? Over the road in the Wild Garden we have a fantastic example of a deciduous holly where the bright red berries are thrown into sharp relief by the naked twigs and stems. Native to eastern parts of North America this holly boasts a wide range of common names including Black Alder Winterberry, Brook Alder, Canada holly, Coralberry, Deciduous Winterberry, False alder, Fever bush, Inkberry, Michigan Holly, Possumhaw and Swamp Holly! Whatever you call it, have a look at the picture below to see what to look for when you next venture into our Wild Garden…

Ilex verticillata

Ilex verticillata

The other headline plant from that famous old Christmas carol is of course the humble ivy. While we are not over-run with rare ivy plants here at Nymans, there is one in particular that I would like to draw your attention to. Along the Top Border which runs behind the shop and restaurant area is a type of holly that grows as a compact shrub. At the moment, as you’ll see in the pictures below, it is covered in statuesque fruits which are actually a great source of late season nectar to a wide range of garden insects.

The Top Border ivy...

The Top Border ivy…

...and those fruits in close-up

…and those fruits in close-up

Of course, throughout the garden you'll also find plenty of wild-growing holly like this one romping away up a tree near the Pinetum

Of course, throughout the garden you’ll also find plenty of attractive wild-growing holly like this one romping away up a tree near the Pinetum

The fact that ivy, like some hollies, stayed green throughout the year led some to believe it had magical properties and led to its use as home decor during the Christmas period. It symbolized eternal life, rebirth and the coming Spring season. In some cultures, ivy was also a symbol of marriage and friendship, perhaps due to its tendency to cling. In ancient Rome, ivy was associated with Bacchus (known as Dionysus in Greek mythology), god of wine and revelry, again connected to the Christmas festivities! Though not as popular as holly, ivy was still used in Yuletide festivals held during Winter by many cultures. For a period however, ivy was banished as festive decor by Christians due to its ability to grow in shade, which led to its association with secrecy and debauchery and therefore the devil. Nevertheless, the custom of decorating with holly and ivy during Christian holidays was eventually accepted and obviously still stands today.

One of our many Christmas trees can be found in the Forecourt, ably assisted by four Bay Trees!

One of our many Christmas trees can be found in the Forecourt, ably assisted by four Bay Trees!

Here at Nymans this year we have covered numerous Christmas trees with hundreds of metres of festive lights, both inside the house and out in the gardens. There are lit trees by the roadside, near the main entrance building, in the Tea Garden, and as you can see from the picture above, in the Forecourt garden. Why not see how many you can spot when you visit us over the Christmas period? The history of a decorated Christmas tree can be traced back to the ancient Romans who decorated trees with small pieces of metal during Saturnalia, a winter festival in honor of Saturnus, the god of agriculture. An evergreen, the Paradise tree, was also decorated with apples as a symbol of the feast of Adam and Eve held on December 24th during the middle ages. Sixteenth century folklore credited Martin Luther (the German friar, Catholic priest and professor of theology) as being the first to decorate an indoor tree. After a walk through a forest of evergreens with shining stars overhead, Luther is said to have tried to describe the experience to his family and showed them by bringing a tree into their home and decorating it with candles. The oldest actual record of a decorated Christmas tree however came from a 1605 diary found in Strasburg, France. The tree was decorated with paper roses, apples and candies. In 1834, Queen Victoria’s husband, Prince Albert, was credited with bringing the first British Christmas tree to Windsor Castle for the Royal Family.

If you head down to the Pinetum you'll find plenty of natural Christmas trees too, like this Abies bornmuelleriana, or Turkish Fir...

If you head down to the Pinetum you’ll find plenty of natural ‘Christmas’ trees too, like this Abies bornmuelleriana, or Turkish Fir…

...and this stunning blue Picea pungens 'Koster'

…and this stunning blue Picea pungens ‘Koster’

The Pinetum is a great place to walk through to spot some more Christmas-shaped conifers and you can find more information on this part of the Nymans gardens by taking a peek at this previous blog entry. If you carry on down to the Nymans woodland you might also be able to find our hidden Christmas tree that has been fully decorated by our woods team. And if you’re really lucky you may even be able to spot some mistletoe in the tree tops and ‘complete’ the festive set! Having said that however, there are some other Christmas-related plants here at Nymans that might not be so obvious at first glance. Did you know, for example, that Rosemary has plenty of Crimbo connections? As well as reportedly being the Virgin Mary’s favourite plant, it is also known as the Remembrance Herb and was used at Christmas in the Middle Ages as this is the time that Christians remember the birth of Jesus. In the late 1700s a special Christmas Rosemary Service was started in Ripon Cathedral School where a red apple, with a sprig of Rosemary in the top of it, was sold by the school boys and the members of the congregation for 2p, 4p or 6p, depending on the size of apple! You’ll find our rosemary plants here at Nymans down in the Rock Garden and in the Forecourt, including one which smells festively of gingerbread! In the following set of pictures though I’ll take you through some of our other Xmas star plants that you can find doing their festive thing right now…

Sarcococca, like this one here in the Top Garden, is commonly known as Christmas Box.  The flowers may not look like much but the scent is stunning!

Sarcococca sp., like this one here in the Top Garden, is commonly known as Christmas Box. The flowers may not look like much but the scent is stunning!

This variety along Winter Walk even has its berries on show too.

This variety along Winter Walk even has its berries on show too.

Hellebores are often called the Christmas Rose because they flower at this time of the year.  These Helleborus foetidus for example are also found along Winter Walk...

Hellebores are often called the Christmas Rose because they flower at this time of the year. These Helleborus foetidus for example are also found along Winter Walk…

...while these 'Party Dress Group' types are about to burst into flower near the cafe

…while these ‘Party Dress Group’ types are about to burst into flower near the cafe

Another plant sometimes referred to as the Christmas Rose is the Hydrangea.  This group along the outer borders of the Rose Garden are flanked by some cracking Cornus stems in the opposite bed

Another plant sometimes referred to as the Christmas Rose is the Hydrangea. This group along the outer borders of the Rose Garden are flanked by some cracking coloured Cornus stems in the opposite bed

What has this red-flowered Camellia got to do with Christmas I hear you ask?

What has this red-flowered Camellia got to do with Christmas I hear you ask?

Well, it is named Camellia x vernalis 'Yuletide' because it reliably flowers during the holiday season

Well, it is named Camellia x vernalis ‘Yuletide’ because it reliably flowers during the holiday season

Of course, there are plenty of other plants that have Christmas connotations throughout the World, but those that flower in the hotter countries of the Southern hemisphere wouldn’t be suitable for doing the same thing in the cold Winter climate of Sussex! In Israel however, the olive tree is very popular at this time of year, with branches being given as symbols of peace on Christmas Day, and here at Nymans we even have a series of olive trees growing in terracotta containers in our Tea Garden! And that really does complete our set of Christmas plants. Make sure you pop in over the next few weeks and check them all out for yourselves. We will be open every day apart from Christmas Day and Boxing Day so we hope to see you soon. Of course, there is plenty more to see and do here at all times of the year so to make sure you keep up to date with all that is going on at Nymans, don’t forget you can interact with us on both Twitter and Facebook as well as finding out all the important visitor information via our official website. If you want to be alerted by email when each new Nymans Garden Blog is published, simply click the ‘Follow’ button at the top of this page and carry out the instructions.

Happy Christmas from everyone here at Nymans!

1 Comment

Filed under Garden History, Plants and Planting

Keeping Warm in Winter

If you’ve just looked at the title of this blog post and think it might be about the garden team putting on a few extra layers and heating up a cup of soup at break time, then think again! It’s not just people that need protecting from the weather at this time of the year, but our precious plants too. Obviously most of the Grade II listed plant collection here at Nymans is hardy enough to cope with our British Winters, otherwise there wouldn’t be much point in growing it. There are a few parts of the garden however that house some slightly more tender specimens that romp away during most of the year but need a little help from us once the snow, Winter rains and frosts start to tighten their icy grip on the gardens.

The Terrace Border back in the Summer...

The Terrace Border back in the Summer…

...and the same border today with a few more gaps in it!

…and the same border today with a few more gaps in it!

One of the main parts of the garden that we have to perform a spot of protective TLC in is the Terrace Border. Found against the walls of the house ruins, this area is south facing and a real sun trap in the warm Summer months. This and the fact that the stone walls act as a giant radiator when it’s hot means that we can grow some quite exotic, interesting, but slightly tender plants here. There are a couple of ways in which we try and stop some of the contents of this border from succumbing to Jack Frost’s fingers. Some of the plants such as the Schefflera, smaller Echiums and the Aeoniums are carefully lifted, potted up and stored in our heated glasshouse over Winter. This keeps them frost free and also allows us to monitor their watering requirements during the colder months.

Here are some of our tender exotics in their temporary Winter home in the Nursery

Here are some of our tender exotics in their temporary Winter home in the Nursery

The roots of the Schefflera are even kept beneath the heated pipes where they'll stay nice and toasty!

The roots of the Schefflera are even kept beneath the heated pipes where they’ll stay nice and toasty!

Other inhabitants of the Terrace Border like the Lotus Banana plants, Aloes and larger Echiums will be gently wrapped in horticultural fleece to insulate them against the harsh Winter conditions that this exposed site can suffer from. We’ll be starting this process over the next couple of weeks so make sure you pop along and see how we’re getting on.

Winter protection of a different kind

Winter protection of a different kind

If you leave the Terrace Border and cross the Sunk Garden you’ll come across the Mediterranean Bed. Filled with plants heralding from that part of the World, these chaps aren’t as tender as the Terrace contents but we still need to do another spot of protecting. What you’ll see along this bed are not a series of picnic tables for Santa’s elves, but are instead a way of protecting the crowns of the Agave plants from Winter wet. Cold rain, sleet and snow can rot the heart or roots of the Agave so although the measures might look a little strange, they will be doing a valuable job.

Here's one of those protective 'tables' in a little more close up...

Here’s one of those protective ‘tables’ in a little more close up…

...and here's a similar job being done by these moveable glass covers on our cold frames in the nursery area

…and here’s a similar job being done by these moveable glass covers on our cold frames in the Nursery area

Another way to protect a plant over Winter is with a layer of mulch. You might remember from the last blog post we produced that we lift most of our Dahlias over Winter and store them in a light covering of spent compost in crates in our glasshouses. Well, we have another Dahlia collection in the Cut Flower beds over in the Wild Garden that we’re caring for in a different way this year. We are using the cut fronds from some of our ferns to lay over the soil around these Dahlias in order to insulate the tubers beneath from frosts and ice. It is a little known fact that a covering of snow will actually perform a similar insulating task but we’re not going to risk that and are sticking to our fern frond friends!

Inside the Nursery glasshouse sit our dormant Dahlias

Inside the Nursery glasshouse sit our other dormant Dahlias

Another more traditional type of mulch is being used in our Rock Garden and South African Bed. Anyone driving through our car park recently can’t have failed to notice the mountain of mulch that is lurking in one corner. This pile of ericaceous (lime free) bark chips will be spread over the soil in a thick layer where it will insulate the plant roots as well as suppress the weeds, retain moisture and generally look pretty darn attractive too! Mulches in the garden can be organic like wood chip, compost or well-rotted manure or inorganic like gravel or plastic sheeting.

Jasper here is transporting the bark chip trailer load by trailer load...

Jasper here is transporting the bark chip trailer load by trailer load…

...to a spot near the Rock Garden where another team will carefully use it to mulch around the hundreds of alpine and rock plants here

…to a spot near the Rock Garden where another team will carefully use it to mulch around the hundreds of alpine and rock plants here

Here you can see one of the Rock Garden beds that has been half mulched (on the right) with the left hand side still to cover

Here you can see one of the Rock Garden beds that has been half mulched (on the right) with the left hand side still to be covered

It is not only the plants around the garden that benefit from some winter protection either. Here at Nymans, like most National Trust gardens, we also protect our garden statuary. Rapid changes in temperature and humidity can cause stone and concrete to expand and contract – and this can lead to cracking. If water gets into existing cracks and then freezes it can even cause lumps to break off. As you can see from the picture below, we therefore cover all of our statues, urns and other statuary in an attempt to conserve and preserve our collection of important garden art.

The rare Byzantine Urn in the Sunk Garden with its Winter thermals on!

The rare Byzantine Urn in the Sunk Garden with its Winter thermals on!

So the next time you pay us a visit here and you’ve got your warm Winter clothes on, spare a thought for some of our plants that will also be enjoying a spot of warm protection against the elements! Of course, there is plenty more to see and do here at all times of the year so to make sure you keep up to date with all that is going on at Nymans, don’t forget you can interact with us on both Twitter and Facebook as well as finding out all the important visitor information via our official website. If you want to be alerted by email when each new Nymans Garden Blog is published, simple click the ‘Follow’ button at the top of this page and carry out the instructions.

Leave a comment

Filed under Garden jobs, Plants and Planting