Some gardens are open to visitors for just a few days a year. Some are open only at weekends. Others are open at weekends but then close for a couple of days during the week. And some gardens are open during Spring, Summer and Autumn but closed during the Winter. However, none of these statements describes the gardens here at Chartwell. We are open seven days a week, 363 days a year, closing only on Christmas Day and Christmas Eve. This state of affairs is a relatively new situation. We have been open all year round for quite a while but have only been open every day of the week in the last year or so.
Chartwell is by far from being the only garden to operate like this, but truth be told there aren’t that many who do really. Now while this spells great news for all of our visitors who want to come and see us whenever they please, there are some dispensations to be made for all of us. Visitors must be prepared to sometimes have us mowing and hedge trimming noisily when they visit and we in turn must be prepared for our poor little garden to take more of a ‘pounding’ from the constant stream of very welcome people through our gates for instance.
One of the consequences we have discovered is that our Main Terrace Lawn is not looking quite as lush and lovely as we would like it. I’m sure none of us would be looking fantastic either if we had hundreds of feet walking all over us every day of the year with no respite either! In fact, those lawns here at Chartwell that don’t receive as much foot traffic throughout the year look remarkably more healthy than the Main Terrace grass which is by far our most trod upon area. We have decided to try and relieve this pressure in two ways. Firstly we have widened the path around the outside of the lawn to try and encourage both visitors and staff alike to use it to cross the terrace especially during the winter when most damage can occur. For this we have used reclaimed York stone to make sure the new path looks inkeeping with the rest of the paving and so that it doesn’t ‘jar’ the eye. As time passes it will weather into place even more.
Secondly we have this week had some outside contractors in to pump high pressured air into the turf. Yes, you did read that correctly! As well as the usual Autumn aeration of our lawns that we combine with scarification and top dressing addition each year, we are having some additional, specialized aeration done to try and allow better movement of air and water in the root zone, thereby improving grass health and growth. A well-aerated lawn will also be able to manage better in periods of drought or waterlogging.
Terrain Aeration are a company based in Suffolk that have also carried out work in Hyde Park recently. Their equipment inserts a spike to 1m deep and then pumps air into the lawn soil under pressure. This is a vast improvement on the the 6 inches or so that we usually manage with our spiking or hollow tine machines. A seaweed-based feed is pumped into the soil during this process and the holes are then filled up with an inert aggregate to stop the holes from closing up again. Drainage should be improved dramatically and compaction relieved, as well as letting the stale Carbon Dioxide air out of the soil and the fresh Oxygen rich air into the soil.
You can have a look at a couple of videos of the process on the newly created Chartwell Gardens Blog Youtube channel. Firstly, you can see some test work being carried out when our contractors visited us a couple of weeks ago in the snow to assess the site by clicking here. If you look carefully you’ll see the turf actually lift up as the air is blasted down into the soil! And then you can see the actual deep soil aeration process being done in a second video clip here. Warning, this second clip is very noisy! Just imagine how loud it was standing next to it!
We hope that all of this will greatly benefit the appearance and health of our Main Terrace lawn. The work we have carried out to try and achieve this is just one example of how gardens must react to 7 day, all year round opening to make sure everything is looking as fine and dandy as possible for our many visitors. We hope to see you here soon where you can check the progress of out turf well-being for your self…