Head Gardener Andy has been at Borde Hill for 11 years and manages a team of three full time gardeners and one part-timer. Five volunteers each work a few hours a week
How did you come to work at Borde Hill? I come from a family of keen gardeners so I guess it’s in my genes! As for working here, my previous garden was closing, so I needed a new job! By chance there was a vacancy at Borde Hill and now I’m in my 11th year here.
What jobs will you be doing in July?
At the height of summer, watering has to be a priority, as well as keeping on top of weeds before they take hold. In order to keep the displays looking fresh - and encouraging more blooms to come – we spend a lot of time deadheading the roses and any repeat-flowering perennials. Tubs of annuals provide bursts of colour, but they need careful watering, feeding and deadheading during summer. We also work hard to keep blanket weed under control in the ponds.
Are there any new developments to see this year? We have a new planting scheme for the Italian Garden that’s been evolving over the past couple of years. Last autumn we planted several hundred bulbs of Fritillaria imperialis ‘Rubra’ and allium ‘Globemaster’. We’ve interplanted them with a selection of summer-flowering herbaceous perennials, a design put together by Annie Guilfoyle, including penstemon ‘Raven’, Gaura lindheimeri, Geranium psilostemon and perovskia ‘Blue Spire’.
Nearby, in Josephine’s Way, we’ve had Noel Kingsbury draw up a new planting scheme. His plans use grasses such as pennisetum ‘Dark Desire’, carex ‘Silver Sceptre’, miscanthus ‘Ferner Osten’ and panicum ‘Shenandoah’, along with dahlias ‘Mystic Dreamer’, ‘Mystic Fantasy’ and ‘Mystic Spirit’, which produce pretty, wildlife-friendly single flowers.
What are the garden’s July highlights?
Naturally the roses are looking and smelling wonderful this month. Jay Robin’s rose garden features 750 David Austin English roses, while the Midsummer Border features a collection of lighter coloured ‘Gold Standard’ roses, grasses, shrubs and perennials. During July, Paradise Walk looks very colourful with summer flowering perennials such as geraniums, sanguisorba, patrina, phlomis, kniphofia and perovskia in full bloom.
What’s the main challenge of working at Borde Hill? Oooh there’s a question! A large historic garden like this is a special challenge in itself. There are plenty of challenges many of which will be familiar to all gardeners. There’s time, of which invariably there is never enough; the British weather, and of course, the unexpected, which is usually lurking around a corner waiting to jump out. It keeps you on your toes! I think a garden without challenges would be quite boring to work in.
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