What a year for the Rock Garden

The following report was sent to us by Andy Jeavons, Garden Manager:

The last year at the rock garden has been a bit of a whirlwind and has seen some monumental changes within the garden.  Some of the changes are fairly small and insignificant such as the fact that the Yew hedge in front of the chalet has been reduced to the same size all over … the old “twin peaks” have been removed.  The litter bins have now gone with no increase on litter and all the benches have now been sanded down and given a coat or two of paint. A new watering point has been added so I can actually water the plants I grow too.

The beds and screes on the front grass have been “mulched” with purple slate chippings which show off the plants and grass very effectively and also help to surpress weeds.  The bridge has had a makeover and we have a super new set of steps to the right of the chalet.

The on-going waterfall situation is this.  We started to put out the feelers to get the pump working again back in January. With every step we took going forward, we seemed to take three backwards with the problems it incurred. The pump was fixed and then the pump house was deemed structually unsafe. This was fixed back in the early autumn and a new roof and floor constructed.

We’re now at the point of getting an electric supply to the pump house … a task far bigger than we ever thought. However, the conduit for the cable is now in and all we’re waiting for is the electric company to put the cable in, add a electric meter, wire up the internal pump house bits and hey presto!!! We are moving in the right direction and now we feel we’re taking 1 step backwards and 3 steps forwards.  As soon as I have any more news, I’ll let you know. Watch this space for a grand “switching on” of the pump in the spring.

You may have also noticed that there has been a lot of the mature shrubbery has been completely removed. We felt that the plants that were there had really outgrown their welcome and were looking tired. The whole area on the bank either side up to the bridge is now completely bare. I have taken several trips to RHS Wisley this summer to admire their stunning herbaceous borders and to get ideas. As a result, we have approx 1,000 mid-to-late summer flowering herbaceous perennials, grasses and small shrubs and trees. The idea is that we plant the beds up to give us large drifts of colours … purples, yellows, oranges, reds, whites, blues, plus some foliage too. This, in my opinion, will be jaw-droppingly stunning and will create a riot of summer colour … something that has been missing in the past.

We’ve also planted 5,000 bulbs consisting of 1,200 dwarf tulips (12 varieties, 100 of each variety), 1,000 crocuses, 1,000 narcissi, 500 dutch iris, 500 reticulated iris, 200 autumn flowering cyclamen  and 600 muscari. This will hopefully be part of an on-going bulb planting programme.

The chalk bank
The chalk bank

You may have also noticed the chalk area under the large beech trees near the southern entrance. Approx 12″ of the top soil was removed and replaced with solid chalk.  This has now been planted up with native chalkland wild flowers such as pink and white campion, bird’s foot trefoil and small scabious. This will form a part of City Parks’ plan to increase the diversity of flora and fauna within its green spaces and hopefully attract many different species of wildlife.

The team of volunteers at work

Lastly, I’d like to give a huge thank you to everyone who’s been involved with the development of the garden.  In particular, my volunteers (Trixie, Anastasia, Sue, Charlotte and Jaqui), the community payback team, Amex for the superb “community” day, Green Gym, Garry Meyer (Park ranger) and last but not least, my manager Graeme Rolf for making all this happen.