Subtitles section Play video Print subtitles Hello. Welcome to Gardens Through History. I'm Hazel Gardiner, a keen horticulturist and floral designer. In this series I'll be visiting some of the most fascinating English Heritage gardens around the country. I'll be learning about the history, chatting to the gardeners that maintain them, and finding out how every garden keeps faithful to the historic origins. I'll be sharing some top tips inspired by historical gardening for you to try at home. Coming up in this episode, I visit Eltham Palace in south east London. One of the best examples of an Arts and Crafts garden in the grounds of a stunning art deco house. I also meet the team behind restoring and maintaining the sites Seely and Paget designed gardens, as well as exploring a brand new special addition to the stunning grounds. Before I get started on the modern day Eltham Palace, I'm eager to learn about the incredible history. For that, I'm chatting to Senior Gardens Advisor, Christopher Weddle Hi, Christopher. Hi Hazel, welcome to Eltham Palace. Oh, thank you so much. It is glorious. It's wonderful, isn't it? So tell me a little bit about Eltham. When and why did it come to be? Well, Eltham has such a long, rich history. It's appears in the Doomsday Book. But I think the true foundation of the site was probably in about the 1300s. It was the childhood home of Henry VIII. And yes, one could imagine this court. The moat walls were higher. There were many more buildings, but there was a magnificent deer park. It was probably about the second largest royal park if it was still in existence today. And it was enjoyed for hunting. So at the beginning of its life it really had a rich history there was, you know, lots going on here. But then something kind of happened. What happened? It was abandoned. Well, it fell out of fashion of it. Henry VIII much preferred Hampton Court and did many works there and is a magnificent palace. And one can see why over time they would come and enjoy the hunting grounds, but they could reach it from from Greenwich. So the buildings fell out of use. They weren't maintaining it so well. It was more fashionable to go to other palaces and it gradually deteriorated. The Civil War then interrupts. It becomes a base for parliamentarian forces. By the 18th century, it had agricultural uses, so it was farmed. The buildings were used for agricultural equipment and storage and animals and those sorts of things. It was handed over to what was then the Office of Works and then the Ministry of Works to look after it. So luckily, a couple, a very rich couple took a fancy to it. Tell me about the Courtaulds who are fascinating in themselves. The Courtaulds are just amazing. I think they were looking for a country pad. They had lots of horticultural friends. They liked traveling. They liked the open spaces. And I think they were looking probably for a luxurious home or an estate they could turn into their luxurious home. And they took out a 99 year lease from the Crown Estate. They employed Seely and Paget as the architects to design their house, and they moved in in 1936. What changes did they actually make to the grounds and the gardens? The changes were quite substantial, and we do have a wonderful record of photographs taken by the architects of before their works and then after. And it is quite telling the amount of work that was was taken place. They'd obviously traveled well, and I think they were looking for a fashionable garden. But actually, we've got this wonderful cine film and you can see them enjoying the garden. So I think they it was personal choices that they were making. We have Country Life photos of tulips, which we know that were planted widely in the spring. We can tell from some aerial shots later that dahlias during the summer were the thing for the bedding. Stephen Courtauld had his influences as well. He loved climbing in the Alps. So I think he was into his alpine plants. And I think this rock garden is about the detail of big rocks and small plants. And I can imagine him taking his horticultural friends round of an evening before dinner, going and looking at the plants that they would have perhaps seen on their expeditions, their their journeys in the Alps and the like. And actually seeing them here at Eltham. The palace is very much art deco and some of that, of course, bleeds out into the design of the landscape. But I think they were wanting to make use of the fact that they had a wonderful site here. They had the bones of all of the medieval moat and walls and things like that. So they had their framework, which in the arts and crafts style, they wanted to augment, they wanted to use to the advantage. And it was very much of the character in those times to to do that. Incredible, so there really is so much history in this garden, so much for visitors to see. Oh yes. There's something every day of the year. I might be a bit biased, but it is one of my favorite sites. It is spectacular. Now, I think I have to go off and do a little bit of deadheading. Yes, I think Karen's got some hard work for you. I'm ready. See you soon. Take care. The influence of the old family can be felt throughout the grounds of Eltham Palace, but maintaining this appearance is a careful balance of historical accuracy and horticultural skill . To get some insight into how this takes place. I'm meeting with Head Gardener, Karen Clayton. Hi, Karen. Hello. So nice to see you in this incredible sunken rose garden here at Eltham. Oh, it's lovely to have you here. So you are deadheading? I am, yes. Which a lot of people know the term, but they might not understand exactly what it means. The purpose of deadheading is to tidy up the border and also to encourage the energy to be diverted into the blooming rather than creating producing hips. There's two ways of doing it. Well, there's many ways of doing it. But there are two ways that you can simplify it is you can snap off the dead heads. Now, what we're working with here are hybrid musks and they're cluster roses. So they're very floriferous and there's lots of flowers on one stem. So when you look at it here, we've we've really got to take away the whole cluster. You don't want to just remove one or two If you were going to remove just one or two you could do a method which is just snapping off. So you're going to go in and you just literally break off the buds like so. It's quite time consuming, as you can see. Especially with a plot like this. Yes, very much. So the other technique to use is to prune out the stem. Now, when I say pruning, we're not pruning to reduce or change the shape of the shrub. We're pruning to dead head. So you're taking a single stem and you're looking for where the vegetative growth is, which is marked out by either a growing shade or a five leaflet node of leaves here. So you can look at the stem and we know we're going to take that one out, look for where the vegetative growth is somewhere around there So here we go. We can make the cut here. So you're removing all of this. And what people may not know is that roses have a second flush. So they'll have their first bloom and then they'll have their second flush. So this is essential for that for for that second bloom to keep coming. So for this one, obviously, all of this is gone over. So I'm going to do the cut there. Yeah. Yes. And it might seem like, people might be watching and go, oh, my goodness it's ruthless. But it really is giving that energy back into the plant. And so with these roses, do you use supports? Is there anything that people need to know in terms of structures to kind of keep a display like this upright? Well with these, these are shrub roses. So they're self supporting. And if you prune these correctly in February, March and you get to the right height, which is around 40, 50 centimeters from ground level, the arching stems are self supporting and and also where they're quite closely planted as well. They're creating this sort of framework themselves when if you leave them to grow too tall, you are getting then you're getting sprays of stem sort of falling over onto the path, which is what we want to avoid. So really good hard prune every year is essential because then the plant has its own framework. It develops its own framework to hold itself. What are some of the roses that we actually see here in the sunken garden? What are the varieties if people at home wanted to kind of get them for their own house?