23rd May 2020

While Abbotsford is closed our gardening team are still busy at work looking after the Walled Regency Gardens, taking all necessary precautions for their health and wellbeing. Head Gardener Tim shares the latest news on the team's work and answers some of your gardening questions.

The gardening team are busy across the estate, but we have been focussing effort in the kitchen garden, sowing and planting the vegetables that are hopefully destined for Ochiltree’s café when we reopen

After preparing the beds and building our new eco-friendly cardboard and bark chip paths to give access, we built the structures to support the growing plants, in particular peas and runner beans. These structures have been made from coppiced hazel.

Broad beans, which were grown in the glass house from seed, were planted out and staked individually, to protect them from the high winds and more will be planted in the beds with the A frames.

We’ve recently sowed other vegetable seeds straight into the ground, including parsnip, swede, chard and kale, but most of the vegetables have been grown on from seed in the glass house.

Here I am pictured planting the parsnip seeds, which are bright blue and easy to see when you are sowing in the ground. They need to be thinly scattered, about a half inch apart (13mm) in a shallow trench. It’s OK to sow outside now that the frosts have passed and hopefully there’s no more to come, but we’re almost at the end of the sowing season for the root vegetables.

Thin your plants out as they grow, removing the weaker plants and allowing the stronger ones to flourish.

Planting for work and pleasure

Abbotsford’s kitchen garden is a mix of flowers and shrubs alongside kitchen produce, vegetables, fruit and herbs. Some of the planting was designed by Scott to hide the ‘working garden’ from the leisure garden, so guests wandering through would have a pleasant experience. In particular, the espalier apple trees served as both barrier and window, designed so that you could look through the gap and see the produce growing, but you could also pass by and not be distracted by the less attractive vegetables.

While we have been busy beavering away in the vegetable beds, the flowers in the kitchen garden have been putting on a glorious display. It is such a shame that nobody can see them at the moment. The purple alliums contrast beautifully with the green foliage of the Euphorbia.

This striking pink and white flower is Dicentra, or the common name for it is 'bleeding heart' because of it's shape. However, it doesn't really live up to its name, as it is a beautiful plant that would lift your spirits when you saw it.

The borders that had been left fallow for a couple of years after some problems with bindweed are now beginning to take shape, with the recently planted shrubs and trees spreading to fill the space. This beautiful yellow peony provides a vibrant floral bookend.

We are hoping that with the easing of lockdown restrictions we might be able to open the gardens for the summer, and you can come and see the wonderful gardens for yourselves. Keep checking the website for the latest information or follow us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.