8 Feb 2015


The Heavily fragrant Edgeworthia chrysantha var. grandiflora, leaves us in anticipation of the delights it has in store for us. 

With 6 and a half acres of Walled garden we are very privileged to have a huge growing footprint, this abundance of space allows us to grow every thing from the rarest shrub from deepest Asia, to the ubiquitous Onion.  However there is a caveat.  By creating clement growing conditions, water, shelter and food we also invite "Volunteer plants" (a polite term for weeds).  Ive mentioned before that not all volunteer plants are bad (see the Wildflower post), a self seeding Digitalis can be an absolute delight.

One of the best ways to combat annual weed is to use a mulch, covering the soil surface with a 3 or 4 inch layer of organic material to exclude the light and limit annual seed germination. 

You can mulch with a lot of different materials including inert gravels, crushed glass and even plastic sheeting, but in many cases its better to use a well rotted organic matter, such as manure or compost.

Its easiest to mulch your beds when your plants are not in their full glory, a great time is in autumn perhaps after a tidy up in your herbaceous borders and when the vegetable patch starts to empty out.

This Daphne sp. brings welcome colour with its scent, a real treat in midwinter.

How to use a mulch effectively.

1.  Prepare the site, remove all perennial weeds such as Thistles, Dandelion, Couch grass etc.  These persistent plants will happily grow through your mulch.  You can get away with using a hoe for the smaller annual weeds.  Make sure the site is both frost free and moist, you don't want to trap frost or a dry strata within your mulch.

2.Cover the open soil uniformly to a depth of 3 to 4 inches or 10cm.  You could apply a layer or two of newspaper to the surface before adding your chosen surface material to make the process extra effective.

3.Avoid dropping the mulch into the crowns of evergreen plants such as Kniphofia spp.  Rake level.

By mulching now we shall reap the benefits later in the season and weed control should be much less challenging at our busiest time.  Other benefits to mulching include.

  • Make soil more moisture retentive
  • Helps warm the soil.
  • Improves soil structure.
  • Increases bio mass/diversity within the soil.
  • Looks great aesthetically.
  • Adds nutrients to soil.

We always try to be sustainable where possible and to that end we use a Bio Digestate to mulch with, this is obtained as a by product from the estate Bio Digesters used to generate energy.

 Another source of organic material comes via our relationship with London Zoo who trade their herbivore waste for a supply of Quercus ilex brash used to feed their Giraffes.

Here one of our hard working Volunteers Ted applies a Zebra manure, he joked that we "might get stripey roses", we shall have to wait and see.


  1. Very valuable post, I read the whole story when I start reading it.
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  2. Thank you, we hope you get the same value from mulching that we enjoy.


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