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Preparing Bressingham Gardens for Summer 2016

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Bressingham -Summer -Garden

With Summer almost upon us we're bracing ourselves for plently of visitors to our gardens. Jaime Blake, our head gardener, agreed to give us a bit of an insight into how he and his team get the garden ready and keep it looking so wonderful!

How do you cope with so many visitors and still maintain the gardens?

It's a constant ongoing process really - the high number of visitors in the summer makes the greatest impact on the grass - it can be in danger of being worn away in places.

Regular cutting and fertilising is how we deal with that.  When we mow the grass we leave the cuttings instead of raking them up - this returns the nutrients of the cut grass to the lawn.

The other thing that we are quite vigilant about is making sure our labels are properly visible and referring to the correct plant (i.e. the ones they are in front of!), during the course of the winter they can get knocked around and moved into different areas.

Weeding is another big thing we do our best to keep on top of.  Rather than spending an awfully long time weeding one bed to get every last bit of weed out we try to make sure we cover the whole of the garden once a week, pulling out anything that looks really untidy.

On a casual viewing this gives the impression that there are no weeds at all!

Are there any particular problems you have to contend with this year?

2015/2016 has been a bad year for weeds and grass.

Because of the mild winter the weeds have continued to grow instead of dying back. Also, to make matters worse, during the course of March, which is generally quite cool, the light levels have also been low.

Being so overcast has had an impact on general plant growth, so the grass has struggled requiring additional fertilising and a bit of sunshine (which luckily has arrived!)

Are there any new plants, ideas or methods you’ll be using this year?

There are a number of new plants we're putting in the garden this year. Several of them are my own hybrids - most notable some new varieties of Red Hot Pokers.

On the maintenance side of things because we get a lot of impact at the edges of the beds where people stand we've been experimenting with ways of adding additional soil on a regular basis.  The edges of the beds tend to get pushed down quite a bit and we're hoping to avoid lifting large areas of turf using these new methods.

The other thing that is a constant battle are Deer - Muntjac Deer go after some of the plants, for a number of years we've used barber's soap hung up over the plants which, incredibly, works very well as a deer deterrent.

This year we are going to try putting chopped up soap in muslin bags as they look slightly less ridiculous!

For you, what is the best thing about Bressingham Gardens in Summer?

The best thing about this time of year is the gradual progression of growth.

Right at this moment I'm looking out at the beds and things are pushing out through the bark mulch that I've put down.

I like seeing a return of those hardy perennials and the sense of anticipation that they will grow and flower.

Some of the things I've put in place will come to fruition during the summer, so planting schemes that I did 2 or maybe 3 years ago will have matured enough to see if my plans and combinations work well.

Summer, for me, is a time of great personal reward.

Do you have any favourite gardening tips or stories?

Horticulture is such a massive subject we always welcome suggestions and experience from visitors.

If you do, get in touch and let us know – you can also do it on Facebook or Twitter.

By Alastair Baker at 16 May 2016, 00:00 AM