Gardenproud Blog

Archive for the ‘Vegetable and Kitchen Gardens’ Category

Visit Sissinghurst Castle Gardens this April

Monday, March 17th, 2014

By Tim Sykes

It was interesting to watch on BBC’s Countryfile recently the feature about Vita Sackville-West and her upbringing at Knole. As the daughter she unfortunately didn’t inherit Knole but with her husband Harold in the 1930′s she went onto buy Sissinghurst Castle and began a transformation of the gardens. Harold mainly planned the garden structure, whilst Vita turned her attention to the planting schemes.

Today the house and grounds are looked after by The National Trust. It’s only a short drive (half an hour) from Tunbridge Wells, along the Biddenden Road, near Cranbrook.

The gardens are open from 11am – 5.30pm. The Castle and Grounds are surrounded by a working farm, ancient woodlands and parkland of c 450 acres. The house dates back to the Middle Ages. It was bought by Sir John Baker ( one of Henry V111′s Privy Councillors) in 1530, when it was greatly enlarged by him and his son.

The Castle and Gardens are well worth a visit and during April are bursting with colour.

A brilliant vantage point is to climb the Tower and see the structure and beauty of the garden, then plan your tour accordingly. You will see from the Tower that the garden is split up into a whole series of rooms, all with their own unique planting schemes.

The Lime Walk is among my favourites, but you must spend time in The White Garden. The White Garden was originally planted as a rose garden in 1931, but later altered in 1950. Vita referred to it as her grey, green and white garden. There is no escaping the brilliance of her focus, and the end result is a captivating space, that’s very romantic.

For a good lunch, nearby Biddenden is a picturesque Kentish Village with pleasant pubs. Alternatively stop off at Goudhurst on route. I’m reliably informed that The Vine, Goudhurst has just undergone a restoration and offers excellent fare. I must treat myself to a visit!

You can see more about Sissinghurst Castle and Grounds at

Further details about The Vine at Goudhurst can be found at

For further information about Gardenproud please contact Tim Sykes, on 07725 173820,  or via email at

Happy New Year from View

Wednesday, December 11th, 2013

View is the quarterly update from Gardenproud on what’s new in the garden.

The new 2014 edition is out now. You can order a copy in the post, or via email. Just send an email request to

In this quarter’s edition are Gardening Tips, 2013 Highlights from Gardenproud, some ideas for Window Boxes, details of our latest Equipment updates – of special interest to the demands of larger gardens, our latest recruit, and news of our latest Design Projects.

King Charles Summer Fete – Plants Stall Blossoms

Saturday, June 15th, 2013

By Tim Sykes,

Well it’s time to enjoy The King Charles the Martyr Summer Fete!

Along with Richard Still gardener supremo at King Charles I ran the plant stall today (Saturday 15th June). Here’s Richard pictured with the famous Tunbridge Wells Town Crier who opened the Fete.

We thoroughly enjoyed the experience. Our stall was set amongst the flourishing gardens at the Church Hall, tended with loving care by Richard.

We were lucky enough to have a whole host of plants donated to us by members of the congregation. Salvias, Courgettes, Geraniums, Cosmos, Japanese Blood Grass, Bamboo, Squash and Ophiopogon were among the wide range of species on sale.

A box of assorted French Marigolds

Some beautiful Red Salvias.

It was a really successful event enjoyed by all.

We look forward to next years event.

For further information about events at King Charles the Martyr check out their website at

The latest edition of View is out now!

Saturday, December 15th, 2012

The latest edition of the Gardenproud Newsletter is out now.

Entitled “View” the newsletter is a quarterly perspective on what’s new in the garden.

View looks at the latest news from Gardenproud considering both garden maintenance challenges and solutions. It also looks at the opportunities for design and landscaping that will help bring you more enjoyment to your outdoor space, whether it’s a small town garden, or a large country estate.

View is available as a pdf or as a printed copy. Either of which we are happy to email or post directly to you.

To receive your copy just contact us at stating whether you prefer an emailed or posted copy. In the case of the latter please provide us with your name, address and postcode.

Alternatively you can go to the “Contact” section of our website and complete a request form there.

We look forward to hearing from you.

Enjoy your garden this year.

Tim Sykes

Make sure you are recycling your garden waste

Sunday, November 18th, 2012

Gardenproud have just installed their latest 3 bay composting system for a client in Tunbridge Wells.

This is typically constructed of treated softwood with bays of 1.5m -2m sq and 1m high.

“Many composting systems are poorly made of flimsy materials, or engineered as an afterthought. We build systems to last of heavy duty timber and large profiles.

We are also conscious that clients have to look at the them, so we use fine detailing to suit the garden or surrounding architecture.”
Comments Tim Sykes.

The front of each bay either has a slot arrangement or uses wing nuts so that panels can easily be removed, allowing turning over, or removal of fresh compost.

If you want to improve the recycling in your garden contact Tim Sykes at Gardenproud on 07725 173820.

Lamb House – Home of Henry James

Sunday, September 2nd, 2012

Lamb House was built in 1723 by James Lamb, an important citizen of Rye and 13 times mayor. The house remained in the family until 1864.

The author Henry James who fell in love with the house then took on a lease in 1898 and lived there until his death in 1916. The house and gardens were to provide the quiet and peaceful retreat from which he wrote many of his novels from a garden house in the grounds (this was destroyed in an air raid on 18th August 1940), including The Wings of the Dove, The Ambassadors and The Golden Bowl.

The writer E.F.Benson, an admirer of James, came to live in the house after Henry James died. He shared the tenancy with his brother (also a writer) famous for having written the words to Elgar’s ” Land of Hope and Glory”. E.F. Benson went onto live in the house until his death in 1940.

Today the house and gardens are looked after by The National Trust. If you are staying at The Mermaid or one of the other superb hotels and guest houses in Rye, Lamb House is conveniently placed and definitely worth a visit!

Despite having no prior knowledge ( ” I am hopeless about the garden, which I don’t know what to do with and shall never, never know – I am densely ignorant.”), Henry James secured the help of a friend Alfred Parsons – a landscape gardener, to help create a beautiful walled garden, leading from a pair of french doors on one side of the house.

The layout of the garden is much the same as in James’s time with a large sweeping lawn, various flower beds, shrubs and a rose garden and kitchen garden situated behind an attractive trellis supporting climbing roses.

Various attractive benches adorn the grounds acting as resting and focal points…

Other features added by Henry James to the house and garden help give a unique perspective and charm..

At the back of the shrubbery, in the South-West corner of the garden, you can still see the dog cemetery where he buried many of his favourite dogs.

James’s favourite Mulberry tree was blown down in a gale, this has now been replaced and he’d be very pleased to note is bearing lots of fruit!

The gardens were a delight…

When you consider this oasis sat within the beauty of Rye, you can easily understand how the setting gave Henry James so much inspiration for his great works.

Lamb House, house and gardens are open from 24th March to 27th October, Tuesday and Saturdays, 2 – 6pm ( last admissions 5.30pm). For further information see The National Trust website at and

Beating Drought Conditions in the Garden

Saturday, May 5th, 2012

Planting under trees can be a nightmare, but successful schemes can be achieved here and in other dry conditions using water efficient leaky pipe systems in combination with an appropriate planting plan.

Fitting a flow reducer to the supply and a timed output will also help conserve water supplies and keep your plants alive. Covering the beds with a moisture absorbant mulch will also help nourish plants and give a slow release of water to the root structure.

Other situations in the garden may benefit from more simpler watering practices such as a watering can. Here an attractive water butt maybe erected (such as this mock terracotta urn) and linked to the rainwater downpipe system. You’d be amazed how much water even the smallest shed roof generates!

Elsewhere you may have situations in the garden where access to water is limited. Take this Vegetable Garden we recently designed. Here a smart design is supported by a rainwater fed tank that incorporates a pump so that water can be directed locally at raised beds. A design like this could also be adapted to include timed watering using leaky pipes.

With watering of gardens coming under more public scrutiny Gardenproud can help you create more efficient systems in your garden to enable you to enjoy its full potential and remain friends with your neighbours!

Call us for further details on 07725 173820

NEW driveway puts our project management to the test!

Saturday, May 5th, 2012

Earlier this year we were invited to redesign a front garden in Tunbridge Wells. This included designing a new driveway, new raised beds, lawn areas, rockery, lighting and planting as well as moving the vehicle entranceway. And this all had to be designed, submitted for planning permission, approvals by Kent County Council and groundworks and planting completed for an important family occasion scheduled for April 2012!


Well I’m happy to say we took up the challenge and following a number of alternative design concepts settled on a treatment that would provide improved access to the house, greater levels of parking, privacy for the client and importantly enhance the presentation of the house. Because of its proximity to the kitchen the concept was subsequently developed to even include a potager garden that incorporated a whole host of fresh herbs to support the clients keen interest in cooking.

Tim Sykes, Gardenproud designer said. “This design doubled the size of the driveway, it improved access for vehicles, it created the opportunity for an enhanced planting scheme in front of the house, and it re-focused attention on the main entrance of the house. Given the planning constraints of moving crossovers it was pretty ambitious to achieve all this in the timescales. But our client was really helpful and keen to progress, so having received our approvals, and with the threat of severe weather we pressed on in March 2012, like mad!”

The old entrance was narrow and led to a parking area for just 2 cars.

Ground works began in March in ernest!

The new driveway shape was excavated, new soakaways and drainage installed and cabling for the new lighting was laid.

Things soon started to take shape with the bed and perimeter walls being erected.

A wider front entrance step was built to add stature and focus to the main doorway and provide a level base for planters.

With KCC approval we set about creating the new central entrance and crossover.

A beautiful new tarmac and flint impregnated driveway surface was laid.

Smart new oak entrance posts were fitted with lead copings and integral marker lights.

The lighting featured copper style fittings throughout, and sockets for trickle charge feeders for cars.

So having got everything in place we closed up the old driveway and pedestrian access points, then created new walls to match in with the existing pavement edging. The old driveway crossover was replaced by a new run of Tunbridge Wells brick pavers that reinstated the pedestrian pathway. New mature laurel bushes were planted in a dense formation to plug the gaps in the old hedge. You can’t see the join!

We then created a planting plan for the beds and new rockery area and got straight on with the ground preparation and planting…….

The potager garden starts to take shape with its combination of herbs, flowers and shrubs all set in a new rockery feature.

The two new front beds feature a number of key shrubs and perennials including Photinia (Red Robbin), Buxus (Box) Spirals, Pieris Japonica, Camelias, Box Balls, Dwarf Roses, Alliums and Peonies. The two planters feature Bay trees and lavender. It was just our luck half way through the project when SE Water announced their hosepipe ban! The watering cans came out. Then God stepped in and gave us plenty of rain! Thank you.

Suffice to say we finished the project with a week’s grace before the big family do!

So everybody was really pleased with the result, our project management, and that we and our grubby boots were nowhere to be seen!

Final comment from the client: “We are really delighted by the new front garden you have created.  It exceeds all our expectations.”

For further information about designing and landscaping your garden please contact Tim Sykes on 07725 173820.

Hosepipe ban to be introduced April 5th

Tuesday, March 13th, 2012

Seven firms including Southern Water, South East Water, Thames Water and Veolia South East have to today announced that they are to enforce a hosepipe ban from April 5th.

Local reservoir Bewl Water is currently standing with just 42% of its normal water reserves.

Source: Shot by photographer – Chloe, 19th February

This means you will not be able to water your garden or lawns with a mains water fed hosepipe until the ban has been lifted.

So we’ve got  3 weeks to prepare ourselves for this.

Not withstanding it might rain either before or after this period it maybe sensible to consider ways in which you could build up water reserves.

If you already have a rainwater recycling system then you may like to consider ways in which this might be connected to a pump which feeds either a leaky pipe or fine spray system.

Hozelock amongst others make such systems, and Karcher make submersible pumps.

You could use the time you have and fill a water butt or tanks and link this to a similar system that can feed off rain water as well.

Here is a system we recently created for a vegetable garden, linked to a rainwater fed water butt near Tunbridge Wells…

For further information on conserving water in the garden contact Tim Sykes on 07725 173820.

March is a great month in the Garden

Friday, March 9th, 2012

It’s the time when the garden really comes back to life. For Gardenproud it’s the point when we get more calls for help than any other month – so it’s like the golden month!

What should you be doing in March?

- plant up the new roses, shrubs, trees and fruit

- plant up the gladioli, lilies and summer bulbs

- plant out the fruit plants

- prune the roses

- sow new lawns, or repair lawns

- sow poppies, marigolds and lobelias

- get in the green house or propagator  with the brussel sprout, cabbage or lettuce seeds