Gardening: A theory that cuts deep

editorial image

After last month’s ‘attack of the sweet pea eating mouse’ we are back on track.

The greenhouse is full of seedlings, snap dragons, sunflowers, cosmos and surprisingly, sweet peas, though not as many as I would have liked.

Haddon Hall head gardiner Jayne Wanless.

Haddon Hall head gardiner Jayne Wanless.

We also have runner and climbing French beans, peppers, red, yellow and tumbler varieties of tomatoes, and cucumbers too.

We only have a small vegetable patch here, and to be honest, I’m not really that knowledgeable about growing vegetables.

I do tend to plant them and then pray and hope for the best, though don’t tell anyone!

Now, when it comes to flowers, I do know what I’m doing.

Once plants have fallen it’s very difficult to stake them upright

The main job this month has been erecting plant supports in the main borders, which by the way is a great secret behind a great-looking garden.

We mainly use hazel whips that can be bent into domes around tall plants, and the hazel structures will soon disappear when the plants start to grow through them.

Thicker eight or nine-foot sticks can be made into a wigwam in order to train roses or clematis to grow up and to bring height to the border.

The reason we make these plant supports is because the borders at Haddon Hall tend to grow very tall, over 5ft, and as soon as it rains the borders will fall, and once plants have fallen it’s very difficult to stake them upright again.

Over the last few summers, however, I have been testing out the ‘Chelsea chop’ theory.

At about the end of May or beginning of June, around the time of the Chelsea flower show, any very tall growing perennials can be cut down to about a half or a third.

This will reduce the height and bulk out the plant, and it will flower a little later and produce more smaller flowers, but this should prolong the flowering season and reduce the need for staking.

It’s definitely nerve-wracking at first, cutting down a perfectly healthy-looking Nepeta, Helenium, Aster or Echinops, but with a bit of daring and a deep breath it’s well worth it, I’ve been very happy with the results at Haddon Hall!

n The hall is open seven days a week until September 30, opening hours 10.30am to 5pm, with last admission at 4pm.

From June 21 to 23 there is a live promenade performance of Jane Eyre, and on July 8 and 9 there is an outdoor summer artisan market.

Visit for details.