Grow Your Own: Spring has Sprung!

Grow Your Own: Spring has Sprung!

Spring has Sprung! And at Chewton Glen Country House Hotel that means Head Gardener Darren Venables is busy, very busy.

March has arrived and the daffodils are starting to flower all over the grounds. The cherry blossoms are starting to appear and the pussy willow is beginning to bud. Camellias and rhododendrons are beginning to flower and the snowdrops have been forming a beautiful white carpet on the woodland floor.

The kitchen garden beds have all been prepared for planting and sowing. In the nursery garden at the moment we are sowing thousands of seeds each week in our greenhouse. Every day as you walk into the greenhouse it is amazing to see just how much of each of tiny seed has grown from the day before. The seedlings will continue to grow in the greenhouse for another couple of weeks and then we will pot them on and let them grow in the slightly cooler polytunnels for a few more weeks before starting to plant them out in the kitchen garden at Easter. Some of the direct sown crops such as the Florence fennel will be sown in a week’s time to enable them to get established early.

We are creating a lot of our bedding and wildflower displays from direct sowing this year. The wildflower areas next to the hedgerows were sown a number of weeks ago and are germinating well. We are creating a different look this year for the wildflower border around the kitchen garden. The perennials are already becoming established and should give some height and colour. The soil around them has been hoed to loosen it and sown with corn flowers and corn marigolds. These two plants are favourites of mine and the blue and yellow should give some nice blocks of colour, combined with the splashes of whites and pinks from the perennials. The sweet peas for the sweet pea canes are being sown next week so we can get these established and planted before the seedlings in the ground get too big and prevent the sweet peas from getting established.

This week also saw us take delivery of our young plants which we will grow on for our summer bedding displays around the hotel. The baby plants always look so small, but once we pot them on into six packs and individual pots their leaves drop and they instantly look like bigger plants. This process takes quite a few days and once the young plants are potted up they will spend about six weeks or so in our polytunnels growing in quite a cold but frost-protected environment before being planted out in Late April/early May.