This Week At Charleston: Allium attack

The walled garden in winter

The walled garden looked quite stunning after the first frost of the year yesterday: artichoke leaves dusted white, snowdrops peeking through here and there and pale green hellebores like winter ghosts.

Snowdrops and hellebores in the walled garden

My task for the day was to remove all of the alliums which have spread throughout the bed at the end of the lawn. The original allium bulbs had reproduced, but their babies would not have flowered for a few years, and so were detracting from the high impact this bed is supposed to have. They are also anachronistic: although ornamental alliums are very popular with today’s gardeners, they would not have been widely used in the 1930s and 40s when onions were strictly for eating!

Bed before the alliums have been removed

Using a border fork, I removed the alliums, trying to pull them up in clumps to make sure I got all of the bulblets. I also took out the celandine which is spreading like wildfire through this bed. This inevitably meant disturbing some of the wallflowers which have been planted here for Spring, but I did my best to firm them back in. This bed is also meant to be full of colourful tulips in Spring, but a naughty rat has been hard at work eating all of the bulbs. It was quite devastating to find all the nibbled shoots lying around. Fiona, the head gardener, has had to send off to Holland for the last of the tulip bulbs as you cannot buy them in the UK now until the autumn. In the process I uncovered this pretty little primrose and the violets are also coming into flower.

Alliums and celandine removed, I levelled the ground and took out any weeds I had missed with a little hand rake. It had warmed up nicely and almost felt like Spring. It was time to stop for a cup of tea by the pond in the late winter sunshine, stopping to admire the snowdrops in the orchard on the way.

Snowdrops by the pond
Snowdrops in the orchard
Looking through the gate to the walled garden
Looking across the pond

In other news, work on the Kitchen Garden is well under way. With only four weeks to go until Charleston is open to the public, Fiona is creating new raised beds with a brick edging and gravel paths which will be wide enough for a wheelbarrow or two. One of the other volunteers is working incredibly hard to put in proper foundations and make sure the bricks are level. I can’t wait to see the finished beds.

The Kitchen Garden: a work in progress

2 Comments Add yours

  1. Ali says:

    It is lovely getting this behind-the-scenes preview of the garden. We visited Charleston a couple of years ago in May and it was beautiful. I hadn’t realised it was best to book a tour of the house, and we couldn’t get in, but the garden had enough interest to keep me happy. I remember there were a lot of gladioli byzantinus – are they still allowed?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes there are still lots of gladioli but subtle changes being made.

      Liked by 1 person

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