Placeholder Image

Subtitles section Play video

  • 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?