One important winter task, now complete here at Sissinghurst, is applying a bark mulch over some areas of the garden before the Spring re-growth.
Here in the garden, we prefer to use a fine grade of bark, (mixed conifer of approx 10-20mm) rather than the larger amenity grade alternative, which is less forgiving around emerging plant shoots, whose leaves are easily smothered and liable to become damaged. The smaller bark chips also help to create a more naturalistic appearance, better suited to less formal areas like the Nuttery, which has a woodland style of planting.
Other benefits of applying bark, include suppressing weeds, allowing access onto borders during wet weather, providing a foil to display plants, helping to maintain soil moisture and can be added to the garden compost heap when cleared away.
This garden consumes a hefty 35 cubic metres each year, which is barrowed, or brought in on a small trailer and then used where needed. We have adopted the ‘stone skimming’ method, whereby a swift fling of the fully laden shovel ensures the bark is thinly distributed over last year’s mulch and prevents uneven clumps. So, next time you visit, be sure to enjoy the borders and admire the results of this hard work.