It has been a very long time since I have written a post about my Cutting Garden – a whole gardening year has slipped by without any of my monthly photographs. I happened to be up very early on Monday morning and as I opened the kitchen door and felt the cold air rushing in I just knew that a hard frost had finally arrived. As the sun rose I bundled myself up, grabbed my camera and headed out with Hardy and Nelson to try and capture the first frosty morning of the season. Todays photos are just the ones that I took in The Cutting Garden. The structure of the Cutting Garden is finally developing a feeling of maturity – the yew hedges that enclose and divide the space are nearly at full height – tall enough that I can’t see over them but not so tall as to block the view of the tops of the many surrounding trees or cut light out of the garden. The espalier fruit trees (apples and pears) have reached their final fourth tier and are producing oodles of fruit.
As you look over the frosty gate and into this ‘secret’ garden within a garden the first thing you see is the central path that is bounded on either side by the espalier trees.
Turning to the right we are entering the main flower garden. This is made up of 4 large square beds and 8 thin rectangular beds. Initially the whole area was devoted to annuals and was completely cleared every year. As time has moved on I have felt that I wanted a more permanent garden that would be interesting all year round and to this end I have started planting box hedges around the larger beds and adding rose bushes and a limited number of perennials to the beds. I have also added the 8 beautiful arches from Agriframes which I am using to support both climbing roses and annual climbers such as Cobaea Scandens.
It is hard to make out in the photo below but there is a sweet pea frame between the 2 arches that mark the narrow bed at the back of the picture. This will become clearer in December/January photos when all of the growth from this years sweet peas has been removed.
In the foreground you can see pink spider chrysanthemums that are just coming into flower – these are interplanted with peonies that were moved in the spring from a bed that was prone to flooding. The flowers suffered from the move but hopefully will bounce back in 2018.
There was still plenty of colour on Monday morning as I caught the dahlias whilst they were frosted but had not started to go black. There are also quite a few roses still producing blooms. I have been gradually clearing the beds over the last few weeks to make room for bulbs and biennials so most of the hardy and half hardy annuals have already been removed. I had some lovely chocolate cosmos plants which are tender perennials and I have lifted them and cut back their foliage and am leaving the tuberous roots to dry in the greenhouse. I will start them off again in pots in February ready to plant out after the last frost next spring.
The sun was just catching the beautiful mature trees on the other side of the hedge – there are still plenty of leaves on these trees and the mammoth task of collecting the fallen leaves and storing them in large bins to transform into leaf mulch continues.
Each of these large square beds are home to quite a few roses – almost all from David Austen and I am adding more each year. Roses are becoming something of an obsession and as they are starting to fill these beds I have had to take over other beds that were previously dedicated to vegetables to make sure I have enough space for growing annual flowers.
The addition of these arches has transformed the Cutting Garden, bringing height and elegance to an area that had looked rather bland during the winter months.
As the sun started to warm the beds the dahlias began to collapse – over for another year. I will leave the blackened stems standing through the winter and hope that I will start to see new growth from the tubers in May next year. There were a few dahlias that were in places I wasn’t happy with and they have been lifted and are drying off in the greenhouse. Once dry I will shake off the soil, label them with luggage labels and store them in cardboard boxes well insulated with newspaper in my potting shed.
Over the next few weeks I will be working hard to tidy and weed all these beds, adding tulips and biennials as I go for beautiful spring blooms in April and May next year.
At the end of our stroll around the Cutting Garden on a frosty November morning we head through the gate and back out into the main garden. I will have to take you to visit the greenhouse soon which is full of chrysanthemums and seedlings.
I hope you enjoyed our early morning stroll around the Cutting Garden – there is nothing like a frosty sunrise to get me inspired to get out into my garden!