This week we planted our sweet peas and the little plants next to their enormous canes look so optimistic. With such lovely weather over the past weeks it was tempting to plant them early in March, but it is always best to wait a little, until the soil has warmed up. These plants were sown back in November and overwintered in our cold frames to make the strongest plants possible for early flowers. With luck they should start flowering by late May and then continue to supply our florists for about 12 weeks. We have also just sown some more sweet peas, to flower later in the season. As the autumn sown plants are finishing these should just start flowering, to take over supply all the way through into September.
The easiest way to grow sweet peas is to let them run wild, through a pea stick wigwam. This always looks stunning and produces huge quantities of flowers. But as the plants mature the flowers soon become very small, on short crooked stems and simply won’t do for a flower arrangement in the hotel. To produce the best quality flowers possible we grow ours as cordons, by removing the side shoots from each plant as it grows and training it up a tall cane. This reduces the amount of flowers the plant produces making it put more energy into less, a simple process of quality over quantity.
Elsewhere in the kitchen garden our asparagus has just started to show its head and will soon be on the menu. This is one of the tastiest delicacies in the garden and the full flavour of this beautiful vegetable can only be truly appreciated if it is eaten directly after picking. Two years ago we planted three new rows and to allow the plants to build up plenty of strength we have had to keep our hands off them until now. This was quite a challenge for an asparagus eater as passionate as myself, but the wait has been worth it. This first harvest of our new plants has been very interesting with some new varieties to taste. They have all been delicious, but the cultivar ‘Pacific Purple’ has stood out as the sweetest. Now that the plants have become well established they should continue to supply the kitchens for another twenty years at least.
Wednesday 16th April
Garden Tour with Head Gardener Tom Coward followed by lunch
The first of our tulip displays should have started by mid-April, and these colourful plants are the perfect answer to a long grey winter. Join us on a tour where Tom will explain how he uses bulbs when the garden is at the height of its spring awakening. Early flowering trees and shrubs, such as our stunning lipstick pink magnolia cambelii, should be in full flower and we hope to be harvesting the first of our asparagus from the kitchen garden.
Gathering at 10.30am for the tour. Followed by lunch at 12.30pm.
£75.00 per person, 3 courses, aperitif, drinks and tour inclusive.
Parts of the tour are over uneven ground and may be wet; please bring appropriate clothing and footwear.
Gravetye Garden Blog
For all those eager to read more regular updates from the garden, then we have good news. Our head gardener Tom and his team are delighted to launch the Gravetye Garden Blog. Packed full of pictures and information on their work at Gravetye - look out for Tom’s plant of the week, as well as posts from exciting contributors.
Click here to subscribe: http://gravetyemanor.wordpress.com/
At the Manor News
Easter: make the most of the bank holiday week-end with our two night break - the mild spring weather means we can guarantee a great display of tulips, as recently seen in Country Life...
In the Kitchen News
Wild garlic: it’s fantastic vibrant colour and unmistakable scent are a sure sign of spring, our kitchen team share a quick and easy wild garlic & potato soup recipe which is not to be missed…