Here we come to the January diary of Haddon Hall.
January is a month that always seems to test the resolve of gardeners, writes head gardener at Haddon Hall, Steve James; a combination of short daylight hours and an unhelpful pattern of Peak District weather that seems to alternate between rain and frost can conspire to halt progress in the garden with dreary regularity.
On those days when conditions have been workable, the mulching of borders has continued at Haddon Hall apace. As anyone familiar with Haddon will know, the gardens are on several different levels, all of which are accessed by steps.
This of course presents a challenge when it comes to the mechanics of getting the compost to where it is needed. Fortunately at Haddon Hall, our ever-resourceful Big Dave (you’ll know him when you see him) has tailored a number of portable wooden ramps which allow wheelbarrow access.
It’s still a physically challenging job of course and a very good way in which to work off those lingering Christmas calories.
It pays to keep on top of tidying the borders at this time of year as weeds never sleep and even now they can still get a sneaky hold. Hoeing and weeding the beds also provides the perfect opportunity to take note of which plants are outgrowing their space and encroaching on their neighbours. These can be lifted and split in due course. Also the tall hazel rose supports, which work so well in the summer and are much admired by visitors, need to be checked as they tend to rot off near the ground. Generally we manage to get two years out of them before replacement is required. This can be a fiddle as the roses need to be released and then re-tied.
We don’t tend to grow much in the way of vegetables at Haddon and there is no kitchen garden area as such, but like everyone else we like to grow greenhouse tomatoes and cucumbers. Lord and Lady Edward and the twins are enthusiastic consumers! In recent years salad crops have shared space in our large greenhouse with various other plants, but this year we are hoping to relocate them to a smaller greenhouse at the top of the estate. This is currently rather forlorn with a couple of panes of glass lost to the recent high winds. The task then is to carry out some repair and renovation so that it’s ready for the spring. Ah, the thought of tomatoes blushing red and the vibrant green of young lettuce leaves flourishing in the greenhouse microclimate… January blues?
Not at Haddon!