Gardener:Somerset Sue

Date:18 Feb 2022

Blog Type:Vegetables

In 2019 we were lucky enough to go on our first ever Europe O.E. Yes, a mere 6 months prior to the emergence of Covid 19, we were blessed to spend two months exploring a part of the world I had always dreamed of travelling to.

Of course the top of my list of places to visit were English and European gardens. We got to wander around quite a few along with a pilgrimage to Super Husbands favourite footy teams' ground Old Trafford in Manchester and the home of my favourite movie The Sound of Music in Salzburg. I could go on for ever describing the amazing history and buildings of Europe but I really want to tell you about a couple of gardens that inspired me to do things in my own little patch at home in NZ. 

We visited Sissinghurst, the internationally famous garden of Vita Sackville-West and her husband Harold Nicholson. This was a place I have dreamed of walking in for over 30 years. It was stunning, enchanting and everything I dreamed it would be. However it was two lesser known gardens that really thrilled and inspired me.

The first was a place called Nostell Abbey. The kitchen garden there was unbelievable. It was surrounded by brick walls and featured almost every vegetable you can think of including a border of over 30 varieties of rhubarb! It had wonderful espaliered fruit trees and salad gardens edged by hundreds of chive plants all in flower.

That was Inspiration No. 1. I came home and planted chives all around one of my vege beds only to have them devastated by rust... gutted but this year with a better spraying regime by the SH (Neem oil) the chives are coming into their own.

Inspiration No. 2 came from the kitchen garden at Arundel Castle. It is so beautiful and they had a long narrow border just filled to the brim with bee attracting herbs. We have a narrow border behind our vegetable garden that gets very dry. I have tried neat little rows of lettuces, I planted hollyhocks and sunflowers there a couple of years ago which were nice but didn't last long.

I came home with a new purpose - all the herb cuttings I had taken from my herb garden went in there. Thyme, sage, lavender, rosemary, catmint, parsley, lemon balm and anything else I could lay my hands on. It was a great success and overflowed the back path with amazing scents everytime we walk along it. I have had to pull out a few over-exuberant sage plants this summer but overall am thrilled with the effect - it is just what I had imagined.

I think it will be a while before we can travel back to the gardens of Europe... if ever for us. But we have a little reminder of them in our own back yard.