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Great Dixter Oast Houses

Great Dixter Oast Houses

A feeling of trepidation always accompanies a return from holiday. Wellyman worries whether the house will still be standing, I, on the other hand wonder what state the garden and allotment will be in. We have just come back from a week in East Sussex and, miraculously, bearing in mind what a shocking summer this is turning out to be, had good weather and the only rain was at night. It appears the south-east of Wales hasn’t faired so well if the height of the River Wye is anything to go by. As we drove past it on our return its churning, chocolately brown water flowing rapidly downstream told us there had been a lot of rain and the unseasonal strong and gusty winds made me wonder how the plants had coped.

Stunning poppies

Stunning poppy at Pashley Manor

It is incredible the difference a week can make and certainly all the rain has meant the garden looks incredibly lush. Those plants not reliant on warmth are growing at a pace, those hoping for something warmer are looking positively weedy in comparison. It’s on days like today that I love the fact we have no lawn. I hated being greeted by the foot high grass that made the garden that looked lovingly tendered before the holiday look like something the local farmer would like to get his hands on when we returned. There’s nothing like returning from holiday and suddenly feeling overwhelmed by the chores that will need to be done, at least lawn mowing is one less task for the Welly household.

Sissinghurst and the white garden

Sissinghurst and the white garden

After a much needed cup of tea, some unpacking and food we wandered up to the plot. Considering the buffeting it is taking it is looking remarkably good. There’ll be bucket loads of flowers to pick tomorrow, plenty of strawberries and our first broad beans and peas. Some annual asters don’t look well and the topsy-turvy weather means I might have a gap of several weeks with few flowers, whilst I wait for the later flowering plants to bloom. The broad beans, peas and climbing beans have all struggled with the wind. My plot is quite exposed to the prevailing south-westerly wind and it is quite a challenge to keep everything upright. The broad beans are certainly going to need some remedial staking work tomorrow. The courgettes are sulking, it really isn’t warm enough for them. Still, I feel I can breathe a sigh of relief now.

Derek Jarman's Garden

Derek Jarman’s Garden

For years now we had been saying we wanted to visit Sissinghurst Castle Gardens and Great Dixter and so this year we booked a week on the Sussex coast with the plan to tour the gardens of that county and its neighbour Kent and it’s from there that we’ve just returned. It turned into a bit of a garden fest with Pashley Manor, Perch Hill and Derek Jarman’s garden at Dungeness, along with several nurseries all visited in our whistle-stop trip. Often when you have wanted to visit much lauded places it is the unexpected that captures your imagination the most. There were many highs; roses at their best, beautiful wildflowers growing along the coast, my first sighting of a bee orchid, some gardening book bargain purchases and a few lows; the inability of visitor attractions to provide tasty, reasonably priced food and being bitten by some marauding insects that have certainly left their mark on my legs. I’ll post about the gardens we saw over the next week but for now there is a pile of washing waiting and an early night before a day on the plot, picking produce.