We might not want to think about it, but there’s no escaping the fact that autumn is as good as here and before long the winter will be upon us. It’s always a busy time of year at Warner, especially for our gardeners who’ll be spending the next few weeks ensuring that everything is ready before the first frost arrives.
Andy Malam has been the head gardener at Thoresby Hall Hotel for the past 13 and a half years. Along with three other full-time gardeners, he helps ensure that the Thoresby Estate and the 30 acres of Grade I-listed gardens are cared for and maintained throughout the year. Along with looking after the formal gardens, which include a Victorian rose garden, Andy and his team are charged with woodland management and staying on top of a lot of topiary!
So what does it take to be a gardener at Thoresby Hall?
“There’s a lot of different skills needed,” Andy said. “Everything from path laying and hedge cutting to planting out summer bedding and tree felling, even Christmas decorations, everything.”
What should we be doing in our own gardens?
“Any summer bedding you’ll be getting ready to bring in by the end of the month – geraniums and dahlias. Any plants you can save year-on-year, you’ll be getting them in to keep them away from the frost for the winter. Other plants such as petunias we’ll skip because they’re no good for next year.
“That’s what we’re doing at the moment and we’re also getting ready for our winter bedding to go out. That will start in October and we’ve got 10,000 polyanthus and 5,000 pansies going out. That’ll take us a couple of weeks to complete.”
What’s the best way to protect summer bedding?
“You can store them in the greenhouse – anything to keep the frost off. If you haven’t got a greenhouse then a shed will do, use a box with newspaper or anything like that for your geraniums and dahlias. You’ll also need to keep them dry – you don’t want them wet during the winter.”
What about the lawn?
“Our lawns are very brown still with the dry summer that we’ve had. You don’t want to be cutting your lawns as short now – you want to be lifting the height on your lawns ready for the winter.”
What other jobs are there at this time of year?
“After putting out the winter bedding we’ll be doing our winter pruning. Any summer flowering shrubs will have a trim. Any shrubs which flower in early spring we’ll leave until after they have bloomed. You’ll need to check your roses, making sure they’re all deadheaded and ready for winter and tying back any climbers.”
Of course, if you’re heading to Thoresby Hall Hotel yourself then just take a moment out to go and get some top gardening tips from Andy or another member of the team yourself!