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Diary of a cultural gardener - July 2019

Our monthly diary to see what July has had in store for our Cultural Gardener, Katy Merrington.

The pressure has really been on this month. Whilst we should never complain about having nice weather in the UK, the heatwave in July has been a challenge to contended with whilst we have been making the finishing touches to hard landscaping and planting nearly 14,000 herbaceous plants.

The planting process involved measuring from a 1m x 1m grid on the soil and marking out plants in Tom Stuart-Smith’s detailed planting plan on the soil. We then placed the plants on the ground in the space where they were to be rooted, ready for Tom to sign off. Usually this process would be fine, but with the heat of the sun beating down on us, the roots could have become very dry. The team did an amazing job to get the plants into the ground as quickly as possible and I’m pleased to report there were very few casualties. The two furthest ends of the garden are the shadiest, and represent a ‘woodland edge’, so this was much easier and less stressful to plant as they were a little more sheltered.

Photo: Nick Singleton
Our gardener waters the plants in the our new garden

Most of the herbaceous plants were brought in 9cm pots rather than 1 Litre, or 2 litre pots – this not only saves on transport costs and is more ecological, but enables the little plants to adjust quickly to their new soil – making it easier when it comes to the tight deadlines we were working to.

When the heavens started to open towards the end of the month, as a gardener I was rather joyful. It meant that the plants were given the wholesome and pure water they need to develop and grow. In the long term we won’t need to water the garden much, but while the plants are still young and the weather has been so hot, it has been important to keep them hydrated. It’s with huge thanks to my team of volunteers who have helped me manage this.

The last of the 120 meters of beech hedging also arrived. Whilst I’m not giving them a drastic cut this year as they establish, in the new year I will trim them into a precise and formal shape which will contrast with the abundant herbaceous planting nearby.

We’re almost there – I can see the finish line of the first phase in sight, but there is a little way to go until we’re ready to open The Hepworth Wakefield Garden in August.

The beech hedging arriving at the gallery