One of the big jobs here in the gardens at Chartwell this week has been carrying out a spot of hedge trimming on the long Beech hedges either side of the Golden Rose Avenue. The yellow and gold coloured roses are all starting to look their best along this central walkway in the middle of the Kitchen Garden and so it is important that the hedge behind them is also in tip top condition to backdrop the floral display. There are over 30 varieties of rose along the Golden Rose Avenue, which itself was a gift to Sir Winston and Lady Churchill from their children on the occasion of their Golden Wedding Anniversary in 1958.
Whilst I was trimming the hedge this week I was asked by one of our ‘on the ball’ visitors why we were doing our pruning at this time of the year, as she had been told to wait until the Autumn. And she was right to ask this question! We will indeed carry out the main pruning of our Fagus sylvatica (Common Beech) hedging later on towards the end of the year. The work we were doing this week was merely a trim to remove the untidy young growth. Whilst not a formal hedge as such, we still want it to look neat. Carrying out this mini-prune now also allows more sunlight to penetrate into the centre of the hedge and more rain water to reach the roots. The main prune of a hedge like this can be done any time from Autumn onwards (or even late Summer for the keenest of pruners!). This will allow the hedge to retain its recent flush of fresh leaves over the Winter in a bronzed, Autumnal state. In fact, I often think I prefer the appearance of our Beech hedges over Winter when the leaves are this lovely copper colour.
In the past we would have carried out this kind of work on our closed days when there was less chance of disturbing the visitors in our garden. However, now that we are open 7 days a week all year round, we firstly have to get as much done before we open at 10am as we can, and then try and be as safe and quiet as we can once the visitors are around. The recent introduction of our new battery powered hedge trimmer has made this much easier. It is much quieter than our old petrol equipment and also obviously doesn’t give off any fuel fumes. It is also lighter which means that us gardeners can hopefully get the work done that much quicker! We close off sections of pathway while we are hedge trimming as a matter of public safety, but luckily the Kitchen Garden has so many different paths and routes that virtually no disruption is caused. If you come down to this part of the gardens at Chartwell any time soon, you’ll be able to see our newly clipped Beech hedges and the amazing roses blooming in front of them…