Gardeners’ Dust: A 12 months’s journey gardening in England | House And Backyard


Visiting my daughter and her family in Chelmsford, England sparked my interest in British daily activities such as gardening. A documentary about the “Garden at Buckingham Palace” made me even more aware.

This garden is located in the middle of bustling London, next to Buckingham Palace. The gardens date from Lord Goring in the 1640s when he bought fields outside the western boundary of the Royal Hunting Park that he turned into opulent gardens. Originally designed in 1640, the garden has been constantly redesigned over the centuries.

These 39 hectares are divided into areas such as the rose garden and the courtyard with an artificial lake. Eight full-time gardeners and three part-time gardeners ensure that the garden looks lush. Queen Elizabeth II holds parties in the gardens annually to honor special groups who have contributed to the country, community or community. They are not open to the public.

A variety of plants in this garden, such as dahlias, pelargoniums (geraniums), and herbs like lemon verbena, can also be found in many British gardens. Various trees such as mulberry and plane trees can also be found in the garden. As young girls, the Queen and her sister Margaret planted beetroot and carrots in this garden.

My daughter’s father-in-law, Bob Mackey, is also a gardener.

Here are the highlights of his annual plan.

In late summer the wildflower field is mowed to distribute the seeds for spring. Next he also sows seeds of foxglove and Ammi Majuis. He will then scarify the ground.

In October, Mackey removes pelargoniums (geraniums) from the garden and cuts off other leaves and stems. He digs and stores tubers like begonias. He prepares planters for tulips, daffodils and iris web bulbs. Finally, he plants evergreen shrubs and violas in patio pots.

In November, his last job before winter is tidying up his gardens by sweeping leaves in a pile to turn them into leaf mold compost.

For cost reasons, the greenhouse is not heated throughout the winter. The heat is turned on in March because the overwintering plants have started to grow. This step coincides with the delivery of flower plugs which are then transplanted into trays. Mackey takes time to prepare his seedbeds, sowing seeds such as marigolds, cosmos, and nicotiania in bowls.

With the heated greenhouse, he starts his tomato plants from seeds. When he transplants the young tomato sprouts, he plants them in a ring culture. This purchased bottomless pot serves as a grow bag. The purpose of ring culture is to encourage the plant to root out of the stem so that it will take in more nutrients and water from the soil.

April is still a cool mite, so Mackey continues to work in the greenhouse, starting with lettuce, runner and bean seeds. The cannas, begonias and dahlias dug out of the garden in autumn are taken from the warehouse and planted. New compost is added in preparation for summer planting.

Mackey plants, weeds, and cultivates vegetable and flower plants in May and June. He grows a fairly extensive list of flowers, from the Impatient to Fushia to Semperflorea.

A new trend is to maintain a garden that can sustain wildlife through a messy bed of wildflowers, long grasses, and piles of wood.

During my visits to Chelmsford I was able to enjoy the splendor of Mackey’s garden. Talking to him is like having a personal gardener.

The Gardeners’ Dirt was written by members of the Victoria County Master Gardener Association, an educational organization of the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension – Victoria County. Send your questions to the attorney at PO Box 1518, Victoria, TX 77901; or or comment on this column at