An update from Smallhythe Place

Hi, I thought it was about time I updated you all on how Smallhythe Place has got on this season and how everything has turned out since the last post in February 2015. I have recruited a new gardener one day a week to help me achieve the full potential of Smallhythe and this is a report of what we have achieved so far and our plans for the future.

Rose Garden
The Rose Garden was cleared of all of the plants apart from the roses and left for a month or so which gave us time to clear a lot of germinating weed seed. A temporary fence was put up to prevent the dreaded rabbits getting in and a native hedge was planted down the right hand side of the rose garden which will eventually become the boundary when the temporary fence is removed. The majority of the plants that we had available went in at the end of May which was a big team effort with all my volunteers and some of the Sissinghurst garden team helping.

The Rose Garden performed well for its first year but we are hoping we will achieve even more from it in 2016 as we will be doing some more planting of perennials, roses and planting a new bulb plan. The hedge should also start to take shape as well as the dianthus border slowly creating a carpet over the side bed.

Temporary wild flower bed
The large bed next to the Rose Garden was prepared early on in the year and then sown with an annual seed mix in the middle of May as soon as the fence was finished (The picture shows what it looked like 2 weeks after sowing and after 4 weeks it was flowering). The border seemed to change every week and has been a great attraction for visitors and wildlife. I would say it is the one thing in the garden I have been questioned about most this year. We will be doing this again in 2016 whilst we improve other areas of the garden.

Café / Main lawn
As well as this we will be turning the right hand fence line from the café to the medlar /gate into a wildlife highway of wildflowers (it’s normally long grass/nettles). Approximately 150m2 ground will be covered in a perennial seed mix so it will not look very impressive in 2016 but in 2017 it should start to perform and just get better with time.

The Nuttery has recovered from its major prune and we will be starting to train it by thinning it out again this winter so a structural shape should start to form. This is just going to take time to get the full effect but it’s estimated about 5 years from the major prune, so 4 left to go. There is also the decision of whether we should remove the purple filberts as they don’t seem to fit in with the orchard/property and replace them with cobnuts like the rest?

Church Entrance
If you have visited recently you would have noticed that at the top of the garden by the church entrance, the rough area that used to be a dumping ground has been cleared and will be getting transformed at the beginning of 2016, incorporating lots of evergreen structural plants to make the entrance nice all year round. We will also be doing some work to the path so it will not be type-one rubble and patchy grass as it is currently. The narrow path will be laid to lawn with additional drainage and extra reinforcement added to help survive the foot traffic.

Herb garden
The herb garden will be getting completely re-done with a mix of culinary and medicinal herbs in 2016 .

We really hope you can visit Smallhythe next year or even better, volunteer in the garden as we are still looking for more reliable people to assist in the mammoth task ahead. If you would like to come and join in long term or even for just a couple of months to help us make all of this more of a reality then please get in contact at

Jon Fenlon

Thanks to Tony Stanton who took all the photos

9 thoughts on “An update from Smallhythe Place

  1. Congratulations, Jon, on what you have achieved in your first year at Smallhythe. As two of your regular volunteers, we hope you will get more recruits to help over the coming months. For anyone reading this who is tempted to volunteer, Jon is a great boss. He took on the role shortly after completing his apprenticeship at Sissinghurst (where he still spends half the week). He’s a great teacher, so don’t worry if you’re not a gardening expert – he’ll make you very welcome, as will all the volunteers.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jon has transformed the garden at Smallhythe in a very short time. We are all very proud and delighted with the plans that Jon has for the future of the garden. We all enjoy working along side him and look forward to many happy days gardening.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Congratulations to all of you, Jon volunteer assistants! This is exciting and impressive. Since I live in the U.S., I’m unable to volunteer as I would love to do, but I am with you in spirit. I cannot think of a better contribution to creating joy in the world. I’ll be visiting next summer and really look forward to seeing it in person.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. This is great! What amazing progress in such a short time. I live stateside, but enjoy your blog so much. It is my dream to visit Sissinghurst one day. I’m curious to know the cultivar /name of the rose used in the hedge in the rose garden? Thanks for the update!


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