We are now two years in to rolling out thoughtful and attractive 10-year garden plans designed to improve all estate gardens in a practical and cost-effective way while ensuring great variety, colour and tidiness throughout the year. Garden Adviser Charles Gilchrist has been working with owners to get their ideas and support, and he reports that nine estates now have full planting plans agreed and ready for their first autumn planting season. Others are in various stages, pending consultation, with the goal of being completed over the next few years.

In Charles’ latest update he notes that the planting philosophy remains true to the original concept in that we are using low maintenance plants to give as much colour impact as possible. However, where we differ from the original plan is that we are taking a more long-term view on planting densities and the careful positioning of each shrub, taking into account the criticisms of existing gardens that point to too much evergreen and overlarge plants.

Charles is very aware that the 10-year plans are ambitious, and also bound by various seasonal and contextual practicalities, so require much patience and understanding from owners. For example, if one of the reasons for the replanting is to rid the ground of perennial weeds, there may be a delay of a year or two where beds sit empty whilst they are being sprayed. Equally, many of the existing beds are difficult to improve without entirely starting from scratch, so owners are faced with a garden that appears to get worse before it gets better.

However, once an area has been replanted, and the soil weeded and refreshed, the ongoing maintenance is far easier. If the same amount of money and effort were spent on ad-hoc infills there would be no noticeable difference. So although short-term dissatisfactions are completely understandable, they should be outweighed by the very visible long-term benefits.

Charles Gilchrist