Gardening tips from Kent's National Trust gardeners

The Golden Rose Walk at Chartwell created in 1958 for Winston & Mrs Churchill to commemorate their G

The Golden Rose Walk at Chartwell, created in 1958 for Winston & Mrs Churchill to commemorate their Golden Wedding. - Credit: Stephen Robson

Which of us hasn't visited a Kent National Trust garden like the one at Sissinghurst and marvelled at the artistry that went not only into its initial creation, but that goes into its upkeep, too? And now our friends at the Trust have kindly rounded up a host of 'top tips' from gardeners based at the county's leading properties so that we can benefit from their hard-won wisdom, even if our own patches aren't quite as impressive.  

Keep on harvesting

Sissinghurst-based gardener Saffron Prentis says, “Encourage more flowers to grow on your roses by ‘pegging’ them down. This arches the stem, and buds with short-flowering spurs are encouraged along the length of the stem.”


The majestic yellow of the Golden Rose Avenue at Chartwell is also in its prime at this time of year. First created by the Churchill children to celebrate their parents' wedding anniversary, there are 32 varieties of rose totalling in excess of four hundred individual blooms. An additional four hundred perennial plants including Nepeta (similar to catmint) and Stachys byzentina (Lambs ears) provide a final, show-stopping flourish.

Control your roses

Sissinghurst-based gardener Saffron Prentis says, “Encourage more flowers to grow on your roses by ‘pegging’ them down. This arches the stem, and buds with short-flowering spurs are encouraged along the length of the stem.” 

View of the Elizabethan Tower at Sissinghurst Castle Garden, Kent

The beautiful garden at Sissinghurst is expertly tended by gardeners like Saffron Prentice - Credit: ©National Trust Images/Sam Milling

Sweet-pea success

Gardener Pippa Coulthard, from Ightham Mote near Sevenoaks, says “Ensure you cut and enjoy the sweet pea flowers. Otherwise, the plant focuses on making seed resulting in fewer, smaller flowers. When the seed matures on the plant, the plant dies, as it’s done its job and propagated itself.”

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For robust rhododendrons

“The key to growing rhododendrons successfully is to give them plenty of light and keep them pruned” advises Scotney Castle, Lamberhurst, Head Gardener Natan Cointet. “This reduces the chance of pests attacking the plants and ensures they’re healthy enough to fight disease.”

So there we have it - advice from the local experts! And the great news is that, whether or not we apply them successfully to our own patches, we will always be able to admire the experts' wonderful handiwork at National Trust properties in Kent! nationaltrust.org.uk

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