We were back in the Old Library for an interesting and entertaining talk given by Steve Edney on his work as head gardener at Salutation and subsequent development of his own private garden and nursery. He is also a RHS volunteer trial judge involved in the Nepeta AGM.
Salutation House and garden is located in Sandwich by the River Stour. Designed by Edward Lutyens in 1912 as a weekend retreat for the three London-based Farrer brothers. Noted for the outstanding design symmetry between house and garden. Sold in 1945 when the brothers died, the magnificent gardens became somewhat overgrown and neglected over time. In the 1970’s Portland Stone was smashed up and laid as crazy paving!
Steve was appointed head gardener in 2005 to oversee the restoration. The owners by then were Steph and Dom of Gogglebox fame. With little interest in the garden apart from being a party space, they allowed him a somewhat free hand.
An initial task was stripping back an avenue of 50’ Holm trees to almost sticks. Our own Old Pond Garden volunteers were very interested in his idea of topiary using Holm Oaks, given how many we have at Charlton House!
2013 saw the garden devastated by salt water flooding and 1,500 plants, 9 mature trees and hedging were lost. 5 million litres of water became trapped in the lower third of the garden and had to be pumped out. Steve and his team overcame this and in 2019 they went on to win Gold at Chelsea for a winter border, which only cost £157! He followed with his Plant Hunter’s Jungle Camp taking best exhibit in the Floral Marquee at Hampton Court.
It’s been a while since there was an update on the walled gardens, it’s been busy! The Volunteers are going strong, and the Old Pond Garden is looking particularly wonderful.
The Long Border started to run away with us, but is getting under control and looking incredibly full and interesting, even if it doesn’t quite have that “designer” look yet! We are waiting for the quote for works to the vandalised iron gates and hoping to create step-free access to the gardens.
We are continuing to point out a “Star Plant” each week. The latest is Silene armeria ‘Electra’, or Garden Catchfly. The Catchfly group of plants exude a sticky brown substance on their stems, just below the flowerhead, where insects get stuck. Have a closer look next time you pass by!
New ideas: we have started a “What’s in Flower” display in Frilly’s café, to entice visitors to come into the garden and see the flowers in situ. Also an Information table in the gardens (when we are there) showing a bit of the background and pointing out the plants coming into flower that week. Looking for more volunteers to do this, if anyone is interested? It’s a sitting-down job!
Kathy was very pleased to be awarded a Certificate of Recognition from the Volunteer Centre Greenwich/ RBG, although she considers that the recognition is for all the volunteers, not just her! Terry accepted the award on her behalf from the Mayor of Greenwich. Thank you to the Trust for nominating us, we do feel appreciated.
And here are some more recent photos from the gardens this month:
3 June National Volunteers Week. Thank you for the muffins Charlton House!
Rheum and foxgloves in the Long Border (foxgloves courtesy of Greenwich Park – thank you!):
30June The pomegranate is flowering in the Peace Garden (top left) the stag beetles are hatching and marching, there is a lovely Malope trifida ‘Vulcan’ annual in the Long Borders (bottom left) and the gravel garden has a new addition of Geum ‘Totally Tangerine’ to add some more zing!
Our Papaver orientale ‘Burning Heart’ have exploded into flower this week. They are fabulous plants, look at the size of them! They came as bare roots, all the way from West Lothian. Thank you Binny Plants.
Emma has sent in pics of her lilies doing very well this year and loving the hot weather. Well done for keeping the dreaded lily beetle at bay!
She is also very proud of her first lockdown courgette (and looks like lots more to come) and this vase of colourful home-grown flowers. Beautiful – it would be a good entry for the Summer Show coming up soon!
This rather beautiful caterpillar will turn into a Toadflax Brocade moth. Kathy says: it gave me a turn as I thought it was a box caterpillar at first ( ie Kill on Sight!), but it seems to be reasonably well-behaved and is munching on self-sown common purple toadflax so I have left them in peace.
Val bought this clematis half-price from RHS Hyde Hall some year ago. Think she got a bargain!
Not everything is coming up roses in every Members Garden. Kathy is an organic gardener and doesn’t use any pellets.. but is thinking that may change soon. Watch your Agapanthus everyone, the little beasties hide in there!
Val and Harry have sent in four pictures of their special plants in June: The first shows off their Pelargonium collection – “Angel” “Decorative” and “Unique”.
Here is Paeony lactiflora:
Here is a “Lampranthus”, which Val says has for the last five years grown in a basket on the wall. The flowers open white and turn to pink. The plant is watered only when it rains; otherwise, it is ignored!
The fourth is Petunia ekserta, a South American plant easily raised from seed. It is winter-hardy in a sheltered dry spot in the garden:
In praise of Salvia ‘Black and Blue’
Angela absolutely loves Salvia guarantica Black and Blue. She says “I have had the main plant for over 2 years. In places it is nearly 7ft tall. It has flowered non stop through out the winter. I took a few cuttings in April. Grew them in water initially (the Terry method!) before potting them up and amazingly one cutting is now in flower!!. If anybody would like one happy to donate. What an amazing plant. It really loves life.”
Anna and Kathy both grow this wonderful plant and recommend it if you have space. It can be tender and might need shelter in a harsh winter, but as Angela has found, cuttings take well as an insurance.