Garden Notes from Jane Austen's House

News of what's happening in the garden at Chawton Cottage

by Celia Simpson, Head Gardener

February 10, 2011

    The garden is just starting to have that "Spring is Here" feel.  Flowers are popping out into masses of rich colour.  We have snowdrops - double and single flowered, crocus tommasinianus, anemone de caen, primroses, iris reticulata, cyclamen coum, winter aconite, winter flowering honeysuckle, wintersweet, viburnum tinus.  Beneath the two yew trees is a large swathe of snowdrops inter-planted with winter aconite and primroses.  It looks beautiful.

    Last week all of the burning heap was burnt up and the ash was scattered around the new rose plants.  The garden is looking clean and tidy and is very nearly weed free.  My volunteer, Julia, has been really busy weeding and taking most of the oak leaves off the borders and into the new leaf bin.  Which, with copius amounts of water through the summer, should take about 2 or 3 years to rot down and then will be brought back to the garden borders as leaf mould.

    The rose pruning still has to be done, at about the end of this month.  There have been lots of plants from various parts of the garden, being dug up, split up and replanted into part of the Trellis border where the old rose bed was.  This part of the border has had nearly a whole bin of compost tipped onto it and spread out and now planting it up has begun in earnest.  Here are some of the plants that I am planting here:  Golden Rod, Cardoon, Michaelmas Daisy, Euphorbia Chariacus 'Wulfenii', Clematis Recta (non-climbing), Aquilegia viridiflora, Hollyhock, Anthemis 'Hollandaise Sauce', Thalictrum aquilegifolium, agapanthus praecox alba, Astrantia Major, Convallaria Majalis 'Prolificans', Lavenders, Pinks, and Tulips.  Vegetables will be grown here and throughout the garden - all jumbled up with the flowers. 

That's all for now, and happy gardening!

January 9, 2011

    Our winter started in the last week of November 2010.  We had intensely freezing cold frosts and 2 feet of snow.  The snow lasted up to 3 weeks ago.  Now we have many dull grey days and last week we were blessed with incredibly cold heavy rain with sleet.  Roll on summer!

    Chimonanthus praecox - Wintersweet - struggling to flower for the 3rd winter running.  I do wonder why this plant flowers in the winter, when it cannot abide frost or snow! 

    Viburnum coum with its bright magenta coloured flowers showing.  Jasminum nudiflorum - winter Jasmine - was well out in flower before the bad weather set in but now the dead and brown flowers are hanging there looking very sorry for themselves, but with a bit of investigation there are many new buds to be seen.  Wallflower plants that were grown in the back near to the shed during last summer, and were such lovely big plants when they were replanted into the garden and in the front tubs, are now looking sad and dejected and like tall brown sticks.  I fear that many will have to be discarded as they will NOT be attractive when the bright yellow tulips, near to their feet, start to bloom.

    Galanthus nivalis - Snowdrops - are showing about 2 inches of growth and daffodils also.  Primula vulgaris - Primrose - has decided to give an early show of yellow, even though there's just one plant.  A taste of what is coming .... Rosmarinus officinalis - Rosemary - the very old plant in the Herb/Medicinal border is studded with pale blue flowers.

    While I have been digging up the old old-fashioned roses, I have noticed here and there a few violet flowers and with a gorgeous scent and lovely dark flowers.

    I still have quite a few winter jobs to do here in the garden that need to be done before Spring bears down on us.  The burning heap is huge and will require a whole day to burn it all.  Lots of herbaceous plants are needing to be moved to the newly extended Trellis border. Odd bits of pruning is still to be done.  A compost bin needs to be emptied, to name but a few tasks.

    This year I have decided to grow some vegetables in the flower borders, as at the moment I don't have a vegetable plot and I feel that our visitors need to see that vegetables and pretty flowers can grow alongside of each other quite happily and don't look out of place.  Over the last 2 years, since the Learning Centre has been built, I have missed growing my vegetables.  You can't beat home grown carrots.  They are delicious and really sweet.

    Happy New to you all and Happy Gardening.

June 2010

21 new Rose bushes have been planted into the new rose border.  Prior to this, a compost bin was emptied out and put on this border so that the plants will have some good stuff to get their roots growing.

The old rose garden is to be grubbed up, sometime later this year, as the roses have been there for 35+ years and are diseased.

This border has been slightly enlarged and will be a new herbaceous border along with the rest of the trellis border.

Lilies are well up now and the start of the summer flowers are in bud and waiting to burst.  Weeds are a-plenty and I'm looking for volunteers in the form of some of our stewards (who like gardening!)

The spring bulbs have nearly finished flowering, but the violets are still going strong. The two laburnum trees are just showing colour, the snowball bush will be a picture.

Aquilegias are in flower as are catnip (Nepeta), London Pride (Saxifraga urbium), Lily of the Valley (Convallaria majalis), Rosemary (rosmarinus officinalis), Woad (Isatis tinctoria), Veronicas and Peonies all in bud.

This year, with the hardest winter and the most snow for a long, long time, has given all the plants a really good long rest and is promising to be an exceptional year for FLOWERS.

Happy Gardening 'til the next time.