International Plant Appreciation Day: Peek into our prep garden!

13 April 2023

Today is International Plant Appreciation Day, and today we’re giving you a sneak peek into our prep garden, with the help of head gardener Jason Sylvan and head garden volunteer Kathy Aitken. 

With a long history at the House, at times as a sensory garden and as a small satellite kitchen garden, the prep garden today is a key hub of activity for our volunteer gardeners.

Think of it as a triage for plants: here is where all the key decisions for incoming new plants get made. Which will be planted in the iconic Old Pond Garden? Which will fill the beds alongside the Long Borders event space? Which will re-populate the beds at the front of the House and the empty spaces in the wilderness? And which will be passed forward to brighten local gardens and raise funds for the Charlton and Blackheath Amateur Horticultural Society?

Some plants come from local nurseries, while others come by the trayful – cuttings and overgrowth from our head and volunteer gardeners’ own homes, as well as from the Charlton House gardens themselves. All carefully inspected by local cat Casper, of course.

They all grow stronger from root to flower in the prep garden, and are then planted with care.

Here are some highlights Jason and Kathy shared with us this spring:

Dyer’s Woad will flower yellow in June and July, and has just come in to triage from a volunteer gardener’s seedlings. The plant gets its name as these dark blue-gree leaves flowers have historically been used in blue dye.

Striking “Arctic Frost” grass will help green up some of the beds that have fallen victim to a different kind of frost this winter.

Perennial “Brazen Hussy” is known for its beautiful yellow flowers, remarkable foliage, and its ability to spread and fill empty spaces. It’s also attracts the birds, bees, and butterflies that our visitors so enjoy. Jason plans to introduce this plant in the Old Pond Garden as well as the wilderness. (That caging protects from squirrels.)

White primrose is planned for the glade.

Plant lovers will be pleased to hear that Jason has a store of hellobore that he’s planning to place outside of the walled gardens, to be enjoyed even when the gates are locked.

Want to join our mighty team of garden volunteers? Get in touch with the Charlton and Blackheath Amateur Horticultural Society.