Short Stories

Autumn is an incredibly busy time in the garden and that is certainly no exception here at Chartwell. As some of our in-depth blogs in recent weeks have shown, there are many big jobs that need doing at this time of year from turf care and hedge cutting to harvesting and generally getting ready to put the garden ‘to bed’ for the Winter.

In the near future I’ll probably be wittering away about the likes of rose pruning, mulching, bulb forcing, Dahlia lifting and so forth, but this week on the blog however I’d thought I’d pause for breath slightly and tie up a few loose ends with these Chartwell short stories…

1. It’s So Big You’d Think We’d Been Pumpkin It Up!

A hefty harvest!

Halloween may have been last week but the pumpkins here are still playing an important part within the gardens. This year Donna and her Kitchen Garden team have managed to produce some absolute whoppers! They grew the likes of ‘Rouge vif D’Etampes’, ‘Small Sugar’, ‘Turk’s Turban’, ‘Jack Of All Trades’ and ‘Atlantic Giant’. It may come as no surprise to you that the biggest specimen of the 53 that were harvested was one of the Atlantic Giant types. Weighing in at a mighty 17.7KG it certainly lived up to its name!

Matt, Donna and a very sturdy set of weighing scales!

Those of you who would like to read even more about the pumpkins from Churchill’s gardens might also like to have a quick gander at a post we produced around this time last year: Smashing Pumpkins!

2. Gunnera, Gunnera, Gone…

A campsite of Gunnera tents!

In May of this year, regular readers out there might remember a blog post we put out about our Gunnera manicata plants, or Giant Rhubarb as they are sometimes slightly erroneously known as. In that post I mentioned that we cut back the huge leaves in Autumn and cover the crowns with them to help the plants survive through the icy Winter weather. Well, this week that process has begun as you can see from the above picture. Teams of staff and volunteers have been swinging their machetes and lopping the thick, fleshy stems at the base before recycling the massive leaves to make a series of green tee-pees!

These are the crowns we’re trying to protect…

…and here is a view of the underside of the monster leaves that are going to do it!

3. Top Lip Topiary!

This year I have somehow managed to convince some of the male gardeners and garden volunteers to grow mustaches during the month of November! This isn’t for some weird sadistic kicks but actually to raise money and awareness for prostate and testicular cancer via the Movember Foundation. More information on the work that they do can be found on their website here. We hope to raise money from people who either find our pathetic attempts to grow facial hair funny or worthy of their pity! The next time you’re in the gardens here at Chartwell you might see garden staff members Giles, Steve, Matt, Alastair, Alex and myself with smudges on our top lip that may look like mud but unfortunately are not! From our magnificent team of volunteers, Len, Ron, Gary and Bruce have also taken the plunge and joined our hairy escapades!

5/6 of the staff Movember team
(Matt is notoriously camera shy!)

We had an informal launch ‘party’ on November 1st to mark the start of our attempts to cultivate our ‘taches. It was a fun event complete with moustache-shaped biscuits and all! I’ll be keeping you all posted of our hirsute developments as part of this blog during November so you can see for yourselves how bushy (or not) our soup strainers get! It is worth noting that our efforts during Movember are by no means officially backed by the National Trust as there are complicated rules about one charity supporting another. If you would like to contribute to a group of friends that just happen to work together trying to raise some money for a good cause you can donate here if you so wish.

The Chartwell Movember launch party in full swing!
Don’t look so worried Alex, it’s only for a month!

4. Blog Bits and Bobs

I’m pleased to reveal that this blog is the current National Trust Blog Of The Month! You can find more information on this here. Also, for those of you who aren’t aware, our humble little blog has also been picked up by Horticulture Week magazine for syndication on their industry trade website. You can see their version of our blog here.

The new Chartwell blog business cards

Another blog-related addition to the gardens here at Chartwell are our new business cards. The cards were designed by Rose Gordon, graphic designer and daughter of Chartwell gardener Alastair. She proposed a number of cool ideas and we chose the one seen in the picture above. Rose had the cards printed where she works at L&S Printing in Worthing, and we’re pretty darn chuffed with the results. Rose is also open to freelance graphic design work and can be contacted on By the way, if you ask us a plant-related question at Chartwell anytime soon, there’s a good chance you might get your answer in writing on the back of one these cards!

OK, that’s it for this week. I hope to see you in our gardens soon, but only if you promise not to laugh at our top lips!



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