Anyone who has arrived at Chartwell in the last month and walked past the brand spanking new and improved restaurant will also hopefully have noticed that the border in front of it has been completely redesigned and replanted too. I was tasked with overseeing this project and with the help of the rest of the gardening staff and volunteers I’m pleased to say that it is now available for your viewing pleasure! There were quite a few restrictions placed on the design including a relatively small budget (of course!), a very narrow border depth and a poor, sloping soil. The border was also required to look as established as possible right from the off in order to screen some of the new restaurant decking. The plants were to be evergreen where possible, drought tolerant and also low maintenance. All of these stipulations actually proved to be a really interesting challenge and actually helped narrow down the plant choice nicely.
Once the old border had been weeded and dug over, we added some chicken manure pellets to boost the fertility and some of our own Chartwell-made compost to try and improve the soil structure. The planting itself could then begin using the new plants that had been safely stored in our plant quarantine area for the prior 6 weeks since being delivered by our suppliers. This ensured that we could make sure we were not bringing in any new pests or diseases into the garden here. In actual fact it meant that we were able to spot some highly invasive Mare’s Tail (Equisetum arvense) that had sprung up in one of the Bay Tree pots during this time! Phew!
I had decided to split the 32m border into seven individual sections of approximately 4.5m. The planting would then repeat across these sections but alternate between a pink and white colour scheme in sections 1, 3, 5 and 7 and a blue, purple and yellow scheme in sections 2, 4 and 6. For instance, in the odd-numbered sections you will find the pink-flowered Rosmarinus officinalis ‘Roseus’ while in the even-numbered areas there are blue-flowered Rosemary plants called Rosmarinus officinalis var. angustissimus ‘Beneden Blue’. Some plants such as the lollipop Bay trees (Laurus nobilis) anchor the whole border by appearing in every section. My initial plan for this design can be seen in the picture below. It shows early version that had to be sent to the architects and council planners for approval because the border was tied in with the whole restaurant re-build. Some of the plants changed between making this plan and the final planting process but hopefully it will give you an idea of the effect we were trying to achieve.
The new restaurant here at Chartwell is called the Landemare Cafe. The relevance of this name refers to the fact that Mrs Landemare was a cook for the Churchill family, initially at weekend parties here at Chartwell but eventually in a full time capacity here and at 10 Downing Street between 1939 and 1954. Lady Churchill apparently knew she would be able to make the best out of rations and that everyone in the household would be happy and contented. She said that “Mrs. Landemare’s food was delicious. She is an inspired and intuitive cook.”
A full list of the plants we used in this new border are as follows:
7 x Laurus nobilis standard tree
7 x Cistus cyprius10 x Cistus purpureus
13 x Phlomis fruticosa13 x Rosmarinus officinalis var. angustissimus ‘Beneden Blue’
18 x Rosmarinus officinalis ‘Roseus’
13 x Santolina chamaecyparissus16 x Santolina pinnata subsp. neopolitana ‘Edward Bowles’
13 x Sedum spectabile ‘Iceberg’
21 x Sedum ‘Autumn Joy’
21 x Artemisia ‘Powis Castle’
13 x Lavandula x intermedia ‘Vera’
18 x Lavandula angustifolia ‘Lodden Pink’
8 x Lonicera japonica ‘Darts World’
6 x Lonicera japonica ‘Hallania’
12 x Hebe ‘Great Orme’
9 x Escallonia laevis ‘Gold Brian’
I chose Lavandula x intermedia ‘Vera’ not only because it is a beautiful plant in its own right and because it it thought to be the original species lavender, but also in memory of my late Grandmother Vera Harris who sadly passed away fairly recently. Once the planting was complete we took a group of volunteers up there and mulched the whole area with woodchips derived from some of the fallen trees and branches we suffered earlier in the year.
Make sure you come and have a walk along this new border the next time you’re here with us at Chartwell. It may not be part of the garden itself but it is still in-keeping with the rest of the garden, using plants, colours and styles that you will find elsewhere throughout the Churchills’ grounds. The fact that some of the plants in this border are also edible, such as the Bay and Rosemary, ties them in nicely to the new Landemare Cafe too.
Incidentally, this project was the last one I’ll carry out here at Chartwell for a while and this here blog post is also the last one I will be writing for a time too. I will be starting a 5 month secondment as Assistant Head Gardener at nearby Nymans soon but we hope that the rest of the gardening team here at Chartwell will be able to keep this blog going in my absence! I have written 134 posts in this blog over the last couple of years and it has received over 35,000 ‘hits’ during that time, so long may it continue. I plan to do a bit of moonlight blogging while I’m at Nymans however via my companion Horticulture Week blog which you can find by clicking here, so please feel free to join me there too!
All the best…