The gardens at Keukenhof in April are quite remarkable. Great rivers of tulips are everywhere. Small exhibitions in the Juliana house give background information to the history and also to the planting practices of this huge venture: 7 million tulips (and other flowering bulbs) are planted each year and each year, at the end of flowering, these are all taken up and crushed to be used as compost around the trees in the garden and made into pulp for the paper which covers the guides to the estate.
As a not-for-profit organisation, in addition to the garden architects, the gardens rely on an army of volunteers. From May onwards the gardens are closed to allow time for the essential work of taking up the tulips and replanting, until reopening for the spring display. The bulbs in each garden area are given to Keukenhof by growers in the Netherlands and the name of the company appears as signage on the beds. For those wishing to make a note of their favourites, tulips are also discretely labelled, although it is easy to feel overwhelmed by the enormous range on display!
The Pomegranate trees in the Peace Garden at Charlton House have come into fruit very early this year, on April 1st.. and lots of other Spring flowers are opening up, the Walled Gardens are definitely worth a visit. Open Mon-Fri 10-4.
Inspired by Melanie’s wonderful talk to members about the various Rothschild gardens, Sharon & I accompanied her on a trip to see the restoration project at Gunnersbury Park. We had our volunteer project at Charlton House & Gardens firmly in mind throughout the day, and were pleased to find parallels – albeit on a much grander scale there! Gunnersbury was bought by Ealing & Acton council in 1925 (Charlton was bought by Greenwich Council in the 1920s) and used as a public park in much the same way that Charlton Park has been.
In 2018 the “Large Mansion” was restored using Heritage Lottery and other funding and opened as a Museum housing the borough archive. Major parts of the park were included in the funding, the Orangery, lake and orchards for example. The Friends of Gunnersbury Park were instrumental in the restoration effort, and volunteers clearly play a large part in the day-to-day running.
A rainy start to October! Autumnal tones everywhere now. The bees are still out in force though.
Our Halloween Spooky Spiders Trail went down well with Charlton House Explorers this half term. There were 10 spooks to find around the garden, and it kept them all busy after their Ghosts and Gargoyles session in the Long Gallery. We had 140 children through the gardens over the two days, phew. Great fun, although we didn’t do much gardening this week!
The Bank Holiday weekend was enlivened with a play “Family Tree” performed in the gardens, as part of the Greenwich & Docklands International Festival. Based on the life of Henrietta Lacks, it certainly lit up the garden!
A very tall flowering plant which is just coming out in the garden has been catching the attention of visitors and volunteers alike. It is Vernonia arkansana ‘Mammuth’ and was featured this week on Gardeners World when Nick Bailey visited Knoll Gardens. Very appropriate as we bought our own Vernonia from Knoll Gardens back in May!
Together 21: Volunteers were in the garden for the borough’s Together 21 Festival. Very sad for visitors that it was such a drizzly day, but at least the garden liked all the water. Spirits not dampened but umbrellas were up!
This is our bargain plant of the month – a Lysimachia clethroides specimen bought for £10 at Members’ recent trip to RHS Hyde Hall, and now split into 23 new plantlets. Filled up the whole corner of one bed, we are just so thrifty!
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.