Amongst the great glories of England are its gardens, and here at Boringdon Hall we are no less blessed.
Responsible for maintaining our gardens and providing it with the tender loving care it requires is our resident gardener, Anne. We took a few moments to sit down with her to talk about summer gardening, future plans for Boringdon’s grounds and how she works with Head Chef, Scott Paton to ensure the freshest seasonal ingredients for our menus…
How long have you been gardening at Boringdon?
I am in my second month here at Boringdon. I have previously worked for a number of 5* Hotel & Spa’s including Chewton Glen Hotel & Spa in Hampshire and Lainston House in Winchester. I am originally from Devon but had been living in Wiltshire with my husband for the last 25 years. We moved back to the Plymouth area a few months ago and I was very lucky to come across this opportunity at Boringdon. Before working here, we would often visit as guests for family meals so it has always been a special place to me.
Take us through your typical summer’s day at Boringdon…
I start the day with some early morning watering, liquid feeding the baskets and pots followed by some dead heading and cutting those pesky weeds. With our typical British Summer weather, the mix of sun and rain means more mowing, more cutting and more weeding. We have some exciting, long-term projects underway including our new herb garden.
Tell us a bit more about the new herb garden…
We have two herb beds at the bottom of the wildflower meadow. Head chef, Scott has used our home grown fennel, borage and nasturtiums to add fresh flavours and vibrant colours to the summer menu. Our home grown elderflower was used for the elderflower cordial which went into the goat’s cheese and beetroot starter. Later in the year, Scott plans to pick the elder berries and pickle them ready for use in his late summer menu. The herb garden will also be beneficial to our bees and will encourage them to pollinate which means more lovely honey.
When did you first start gardening?
I have always loved gardening – it’s has always been a form of relaxation for me, outside in the garden with a G&T. I was working full-time as a retail manager when I eventually decided to retrain at 30. I took 2 years off work and did the 2 year full-time course at one of the best gardening courses in the country at Sparsholt College. I got my spraying and chainsaw licence there and I also did the Chelsea Flower Show – it was a great experience.
Do you have any top gardening tips for the summer?
Keep it simple and do your general house-keeping well. Watering feeding, picking up leaves, maintain a healthy environment. When there’s lots of rain, everything will start to look bedraggled, rain also encourages slugs so pick them off or use a beer trap (bury a plastic cup, pour some beer – slugs and snails love it and particularly in veg pots).
What are your long term plans for the Boringdon grounds?
We want to keep on developing the herb garden – propagating, cutting, lifting and dividing, this will be great autumn work. Talking to Scott and seeing what we can grow more of for the menus will be a top priority.
Later in the summer we will start work on the vegetable patch, located at the top of the wildflower meadow, next door to the bee hives. We want to start growing seasonal veggies, special ones that are a little more difficult to source such as baby turnips, celeriac and dwarf kale.
The wildflower meadow will be another long term project – the plan is to grow poppies, cornflowers and lavender – plenty for our bees to forage on!
And finally, what do you love most about gardening at Boringdon?
I love the challenges of a new environment. Being on a hill means we have to choose drought tolerant plants, our soil’s clay so it stays very wet and heavy – which can play havoc with the plants. It is going to take time but I’m really looking forward to seeing everything progress. What I really love most is talking to our guests who come to me for gardening tips. Many of them come up to me and ask “what are you working on today”. Regular guests can see the progress each time they visit.