Originally herbaceous borders, the summer borders at Nymans reverted to the old intensive ‘bedding out’ style of gardening in the 1960’s and ’70’s at the instigation of the Earl and Countess Ross who spent their summers at Nymans and wanted a fantastic August display. This style of planting had all but died out as the influence of William Robinson and Gertrude Jekyll in the early part of the 20th century led the move towards more naturalistic planting.

The planting plan is based on three rows with a balance of heights front to back of border incorporating a wide colour range and long flowering time, backed with very large shrubs and perennials, such as Eupatorium giving pink flowers and purplish stems, Silphium with its golden yellow flowers and the towering Coneflower – Rudbeckia maxima. These are all staked in April when still small using hazel cut from the Nymans woods.

Seed sowing begins in February – in the new, fully-automated Cambridge glasshouse- in different sowing weeks according to length of germination time and to stagger the enormous job of pricking out. Sown into pure coir in modular trays – 35 plants to a tray – on a heated misting bench under plastic and covered in fine grade vermiculite. They are moved to an open mist bench on germination.

The taller and more vigorous plants – Helichrysum, Scabious, Marigolds, Antirrhinums, Cleome, Cosmos – are pricked out into pots during March and April. Seedlings are pricked out into peat-free bedding compost with an added controlled release fertilizer and swell gel. To protect against fungus they use ‘Revive’, a bacterial culture which forms an association with the plant roots and boosts the immunity.

By late April/beg. of May pricking out has finished, the planting plan is drawn up and the borders are marked out with sand and marked with labels for the location of each group of plants.

Planting out, in single colour drifts, is done during Chelsea Week in May and takes all of the garden staff plus volunteers just 1 day. The tall plants are individually staked with hazel which is invisible once growth has been put on.

Dead-heading is carried out once a week from late June when the plants begin to flower and the Antirrhinums are watered with ‘Revive’ to stave off rust.

Striking use of plants like purple Perilla laciniata in a large clump contrasts well with Cineraria ‘Cirrus’ and Rudbeckia ‘Toto Gold’. Also striking use of single colour Antirrhinums such as ‘Scarlet Giant’ – hard to source single colours although Chilterns stock them.

The borders are kept going through to the end of October and sometimes into November- frosts permitting – with plants like the Heliotropes lasting particularly well, but some of the others having to be replaced with chrysanthemums to fill the gaps. A ‘green manure’, such as broad beans, is sown directly into the soil and then rotivated in to provide nitrates during the winter – they also protect the soil from erosion. Dahlias tubers are lifted and cleaned off in November then stored in crates with a covering of coir.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *