Grow Your Own: June
Tips and advice from Darren Venables, Head Gardener at Chewton Glen
I am writing this in mid-June when finally, after 12 weeks and 20,500 plants, we finished planting the last of the summer bedding and wild flower displays around the grounds of Chewton Glen.
The displays are made up of formal bedding plants close to the hotel, wild flowers which act as a nectar source for the bees, and edible flowers for the chefs to use in the kitchens.
The bedding plants tend to be brought in as young plants and everything else is sown from seed, this works out at approximately 6,000 plugged plants and 15,000 plants from seed. Because we have to produce so many plants we start sowing in February as soon as there is any warmth in the sun, it is the only way we can produce so many plants so quickly and the whole process is a constant cycle of sowing seeds and planting out until the displays are finished.
Now the planting is finished our work becomes a little more settled for the summer, giving us a chance to concentrate on maintaining the gardens and all the normal summer gardening tasks we need to do.
The kitchen garden is looking really good at the moment. We are harvesting rhubarb, Nero di Toscana, curly kale, ruby chard and courgette flowers daily. Our first French bean crops, Cosse Violette and boriotto beans are in and growing well, as well as our Deadon cabbage crops and purple sprouting broccoli, are starting to establish really well which they need to do in order to give us mature crops in winter.
This week will see us begin sowing our next batch of French beans so we have them available on the menu for a longer period this year. We then start to sow large amounts of our winter kitchen garden crops; these will be grown on and established in our polytunnels over the summer ready for planting out in autumn.
In our nursery garden our red, white and blackcurrants are settling in really well and are all in leaf and showing some signs of flower and fruit production which is amazing as they have only been in the ground just over a month from bare root plants.
The globe artichokes continue to fatten each day and Luke Matthews, our Executive Head Chef, exams then every week to see if they are ready to be harvested. Our mint, rosemary and chive heads continue to be harvested daily and in a few days our nasturtium and borage flowers will also be ready for harvesting.
Last week one of my main tasks was to design and source the plants and flowers for our winter bedding displays. It is always quite an odd feeling when you just finish planting the summer plants and you straight away have to start thinking about winter, but that is how you have to work. This year I am going to try to create a very modern feel to the winter displays by mixing topiary, bedding plants and some shrubs. We have already collected some of the shrubs which we brought as liners and these will happily grow on in our polytunnels for the next few months before we begin planting out in Mid-September.