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Garden of the month: Stonewall Park in Chiddingstone Hoath

PUBLISHED: 08:53 28 February 2014 | UPDATED: 08:53 28 February 2014

Daffodils at Stonewall Park

Daffodils at Stonewall Park

Archant

Take the chance to see the glorious show of daffodils here this March

Take a stroll among the daffodils at Stonewall Park in Chiddingstone Hoath when it opens briefly through the National Gardens Scheme this month.

One of a handful of gardens that has been doing so through the NGS for more than 40 years, if you haven’t been yet do put it on your must-do list; return visitors are always welcomed most warmly, some returning year after year.

The vagaries of the weather make it difficult to predict the peak time, but if you are lucky 23 March could be just right to see glorious swathes of naturalised daffodils in this romantically picturesque woodland garden. Just don’t forget your wellies!

Home to the Fleming family, the present owners Rupert and Catherine Fleming are continuing the tradition of caring for the historic property.

“The woods are such a beautiful haven and for me they are the most magical part of the grounds,” says Catherine.

Rupert’s parents, Elizabeth and Valentine Fleming, restored the gardens over a period of 40 years, adding to the existing mature species rhododendrons that had been collected in the 1920s and 1930s, as well as developing the 12 acres of woodland and opening up the lovely views.

Head gardener, David Chilcott, who has been there since he was 14, continues the process of evolution now with the latest custodians, maintaining the natural look through care and diligence.

Rupert who works full-time in London helps out on weekends and although Catherine admits she is ‘horticulturally challenged’, clearly has a passion for the beauty and peacefulness of the place and 
is striving to make her own impact on 
the rose garden.

“I have planted hundreds of alliums, 
but unfortunately the last few wet seasons have meant the attempts so far has been unsuccessful,” she admits.

Thousands of daffodils have naturalised over many years, possibly from as early as 1860, under the canopy of deciduous trees and later in May the purple haze of the bluebells is also spectacular.

This is a timeless garden to wander 
in, exploring the meandering paths 
down to the lake, admiring the bobbing heads in cream and gold, budding rhododendrons, camellias and the odd vibrant clusters of Pieris japonica blooms.

Then pop into the walled garden, much of which is given over to crops that will come into life later in the season. There is still, however, tactile rhubarb, neat rows of leeks and gnarled espaliered 100-year-old pear trees, guarded by a rather eccentric metal scarecrow, to draw the eye.

In spring the colour is in the detail; 
from carpets of tiny crimson saxifrage 
and clumps of purple hyacinths to the 
cheerful splashes of polyanthus.

GET IN TOUCH

Stonewall Park, Chiddingstone Hoath TN8 7DG

Open: 23 March (2pm-5pm) and 11 May (1.30pm -5pm)

Admission: £5, children free

Home-made teas in the conservatory

The National Gardens Scheme www.ngs.org.uk

Get the look - tips for growing daffodils

• Older varieties naturalise best

• Easy to grow

• Well-drained soil, sun or light shade

• Flowers will always face the sun

• Red cups and pinks fade in full sun

• August and September best months to plant

• Plant at depth three times height if bulb in beds, borders or containers

• Plant deeper in lawns, 15cm

• If soil heavy, mix grit into base of planting hole

• Don’t plant where ground can be waterlogged

• Plant in drifts

• Deadhead flowers when finished to ensure next year’s display

• Let the foliage die down for around 6 weeks

• Don’t tie foliage

• Need the energy from the foliage to the bulb to produce next year’s flowers

• After flowering, keep watered and fed with high potash, until leaves die back

• Remove and burn any bulbs with diseased foliage

• Divide over-crowded clumps late summer and replant offsets

• Store lifted bulbs in cool, dark place

Did you know?

• Daffodils are divided into 13 divisions, based mainly on flower form, such as trumpet, large-cupped, double, split-corona

• There are more than 50 species and 25,000 varieties

• The name ‘daffodil’ was first recorded in 1538, earlier it was called ‘affodell’

• Other names include jonquil, narcissus and paperwhite

• Daffodils were brought to Britain by the Romans as they thought the sap had healing powers

• The bulbs and leaves are poisonous

• Symbolised chivalry in Victorian times and now hope

Plant of the month

Saxifrage

• Alpine perennial

• Deep pink flowers

• Forms dense carpet

• Easy to grow

Growing notes

• Sun to part shade

• Normal, sandy or clay soils

• Moist, well-drained soil

• Use as edging, in rockery or raised bed

Jobs to be done

• Spring-clean time: weed, clear paths, dig over borders incorporating organic matter, clean tools

• Cut down perennials and grasses that have been left for winter interest

• Prepare some hazel and birch twig supports ready for summer

GET IN TOUCH

Stonewall Park, Chiddingstone Hoath TN8 7DG

Open: 23 March (2pm-5pm) and 11 May (1.30pm -5pm)

Admission: £5, children free

Home-made teas in the conservatory

The National Gardens Scheme www.ngs.org.uk

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