11 August 2022

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August is proving as difficult as July for the Emmanuel Gardens. There is still no sign of rain in the forecast and it feels like months and months since it last rained. July has seen record temperatures and the driest July since records began in the 1800’s. This is the hottest summer since 1976 and the driest summer since the 1930’s. The garden is taking quite a hit.

The plants that should be comfortable with the heat and dry are struggling too. The same can be said for our gardeners. Never before have we been so stretched as far as having to water the beds with such frequency. The water we put down is burned off by the afternoon.

In late July, I continued to work with the Landscapes Architects on the planting for the new build, trying to work out what the best plants to use would be. The problem being that yes, the Summers are longer and drier, but also the weather could be cold with winds (the beast from the east etc.), heavy rains and flooding, and possibly freezing temperatures.

In this weather, it would be tempting to plant a cactus or succulents, but at another time of year these plants would be not suitable. It certainly is a headache for anyone involved in landscape design. I think we are getting close to the right plant choices.

The dry gardens aside, the department is still busy and moving forward. This month has seen an internal promotion, for Theo Giasemidis, one of the garden departments longest serving team members. I was pleased to offer Theo the role of Assistant Head Gardener, and reward Theo for the hard work and dedication, that he has shown the department over the years.


                                                           Above: Theo Giasemidis, Assistant Head Gardener 

I was also pleased to offer Kate Cook a trainee role under the WRAGs scheme. Kate will be in the department for a year working on Thursday and Friday. She should gain some great knowledge working alongside our talented gardeners for the next 12 months.


                                                           Above: Kate Cook training under the WRAGs scheme 

Whilst the grass cutting has slowed, the other work continues. We are taking full advantage of our newly refurbished glasshouse and yards and have been looking to the present and future. In the present we have been producing some tomatoes and chilies for the kitchens. Whilst not trying to supply the kitchens in full, it has been nice to pass some of Emmanuel’s home grown produce for occasional use. Something the myself and Head Chef Nathan Aldous will be working towards in the future. We have also been collecting seeds and taking cuttings from our ornamental plants in preparation for expending the college gardens stock for replenishment of the borders.


                                                    Above: Left; Collecting seeds; Right; Tomatoes in the greenhouse

We continue with our composting regime that should also reduce water loss within the borders. The beds have become dry over years of this not happening and incorporating some good organic matter next spring should help minimize water loss. All things we are preparing now for the future, which I guess is what gardening is all about after all.

Best wishes,

Brendon sims (Head Gardener)

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