This Week in The Garden…… 8th July 2022

July 2022

  • This Week in The Garden…… 8th July 2022

This Week in The Garden…… 8th July 2022

It’s been a very exciting time in the Franciscan Gardens recently. We entered the gardens into two categories in South East In Bloom this year, as well as being included as part of the Canterbury trail. The SEIB representative came along on a hot and sunny day to judge the gardens in The Walled Garden and Heritage Garden categories. There are strict criteria for each, relating to standards of horticulture and maintenance, quality of plants, accessibility, layout and design and including a relatively new focus on eco-credentials and sustainability. We were very proud to be able to show how we raise the majority of our plants from seed or by propagation, how we make and use compost on site and how the choice of plants in the gardens are matched to the conditions so that they can generally thrive without the need for excess watering. We were able to demonstrate how companion planting in the Cutting Garden has helped to keep pests at bay (the nasturtiums this year have been sacrificed to blackfly but everything else has been free from infestation) and how the meadow and native hedging is providing a wonderful habitat for masses of invertebrates which in turn provide food for the birds and small mammals. We should find out in September what the results are.

Two days later we were thrilled to be hosting a camera crew from the BBC’s Gardener’s World programme. As lifelong fans of the show this was a massive honour and we could hardly believe it when we first heard they were going to come and make a short film at The Franciscan Gardens.

They filmed all day, with the presenter Frances Tophill interviewing both of us about our role in restoring the gardens over the past two years; the kinds of plants that the friars would have used for healing and cures and about how we garden naturally to encourage biodiversity and provide a wildlife habitat in the centre of a busy city. The whole crew, including Frances, were so friendly and patient with us that it really helped to settle our nerves at being on camera. They were intent in showing off the gardens to their best and by the time they packed up and left at 6pm we felt completely exhausted but elated that the gardens will (hopefully!) be shown on the programme. As soon as we hear when it will be aired we will let everyone know.

After all the excitement, back to the day-job. The new picnic area beside the Chapel is nearly complete. The large logs from the fallen leylandii make perfect seats and with all the chippings from the tree now spread as a thick mulch carpet the space looks very inviting. As soon as the sticky resin sap has dried out on the cut surfaces we’ll be able to open up the area for our visitors to use as a lovely quiet place to sit and watch the butterflies, bees and birds across the meadow. In the autumn we’ll be planting a young oak sapling there to mark the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee and putting in bare root blackthorn and hawthorn hedging to screen off the back wall.

Other jobs this week:

  • Watering the pots and troughs every day in the heatwave to ensure they don’t dry out
  • Deadheading around the gardens daily, especially the dahlias, calendula marigolds and salvias and roses in the pots and troughs to ensure a continuation of flowers throughout the summer.
  • Collecting seed as the seedheads ripen. So far we’ve collected phacelia, chives, welsh onion and peas and stored them in labelled paper bags in the shed, ready to sow for next year.

Tracey and Robert… the gardeners.