February flower count

If you are new to Chartwell gardens blog then welcome! If you have been a follower of the blog before then you will have noticed that it has gone very quiet over the last 6 months or more. This is because there have been a lot of changes in the gardens over that period and one of those changes has been that our resident blogger, Jamie, having completed a secondment at Nymans, has now moved on to a new position with the National Trust at Polesden Lacey.

In the meantime all of our other gardeners have had their hands full keeping the gardens looking beautiful and therefore there has been no time for blogging…until now. I joined the garden team at the end of December working as an intern in the Kitchen Garden under the supervision of Claire Bryant.  The new blog which I started following my 6 month internship can be found at Chartwell Veg Patch


The kitchen garden

This week I have been let out of the kitchen garden to see what else is going on in the rest of the gardens at Chartwell. In the main garden I got the chance to be involved in the February flower count which traditionally takes place every year on Valentine’s Day.


Matt Law who is the gardener with particular responsibility for the formal gardens (rather than the wider estate) and who knows more about the plants at Chartwell than anyone else took me on a tour to spot and record which of our plants are currently in flower.

These included familiar favourites for this time of year such as crocuses, camellia, hellebores, irises, hamamelis (witch hazel) and primroses which I was able to identify without too much help from Matt…


Snowdrops in the Winter Border which is in the Orchard just outside the Kitchen Garden


Winter aconites edge the winter border


Periwinkle (vinca major) can be found near the Water Feature

At the very top of the Winter Border, near the Pet Graves, you be able to smell the sweet scent of these Daphne bholua 'Jacqueline Postill' shrubs before you actually see them...

Daphne bholua ‘Jacqueline Postill’ is currently in full bloom and smelling divine at the top of the Winter Border

… but also a few that are new to me such as pulmonaria (common lungswort) and the spring snowflakes (leucojum vernum). These are closely related to the snowdrop but on taller stems that at first glance make it look more like a daffodil.


Spring snowflake (leucojum vernum) can be found in front of the Swimming Pool

We also cleared and then planted up the border that leads from the Visitor Centre down towards the house with new plants. The old border had become a bit dark and enclosed and the new border will allow visitors to really appreciate the best of the views.


Matt and Chris laying out the new plants

Once they were all in place...

Once they were all in place…

... we were allowed to get digging

… we were allowed to get digging

Sarcococca ruscifolia (sweet box) has a beautiful scent

Sarcococca ruscifolia (sweet box) has a beautiful scent

The new plants include helleborus niger (a white flowering hellebore), helleborus argutifolius (with lime green flowers), lots of beautiful smelling sarcococca ruscifolia (sweet box), ruscus aculeatus (butcher’s broom), some ferns including polypodium vulgare and a good sprinkling of snowdrops. We also left some gaps at the back of the border for some ilex (holly) to go in when our delivery arrives.

It took us most of the day to get all of the planting done and then we watered everything in before mulching with a good layer of manure.


Claire starts mulching – the new delivery of manure was so fresh it was warm and steaming!


Thursday volunteers Lynne and Karen water the plants in


The finished border


A good days work!

The border is already looking good but will of course get better and better as the year goes on.  Hopefully if you have time over half term week you can come and take at look at our work and see if you can spot all of the plants that are currently in bloom.

Becky Reader



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3 responses to “February flower count

  1. AliG

    A lovely blog Becky, you’re a worthy follower in Jamie’s footsteps!

  2. Tim P

    Fantastic, great blog Becky

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