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Principles of Good Gardening

Over the past few months I have been researching some historic gardens in Waverley to find out what, if anything, remains of these hidden gems. One such garden is Great Tangley Manor in Wonersh where Wickham Flower created what was widely regarded as one of the most progressive gardens of the late 1800s.

The Moat and Covered Way at Great Tangley Manor. Photo credit: Marion Woodward, SGT

“…for the gardens of Tangley are, in their kind, second to none in all the breadth of England” exclaimed Country Life magazine 6th August 1898. Flower was praised for using the “principles of good gardening” by following the lead of Nature and growing those plants that would thrive given the existing conditions. In this same article, the author proclaims, “But it is a sin against Nature and against Art alike to attempt the impossible or to persist in trying to grow that which will not thrive, but will at best be poor, stunted, and insignificant.”


How appropriate, therefore, that our March speaker, garden designer Humaira Ikram spoke to us about Resilient Plants: does such a thing exist, would it be possible to continue to garden as we always have and how should we think about our gardens going forward as we come to grips with climate change? Humaira interviewed other designers, nursery owners and plant experts to get their views. It will come as no surprise to most of you that there is no silver bullet or list of plants that will solve all our issues. She did, however, provide some interesting and thought-provoking ideas.  First and foremost, we must look after our soil. Much as we try to look after our own health by providing our bodies with nourishment, vitamins and adequate water, our soil requires the same. Mulch is vital to creating a good soil structure for plants and beneficial insects. She also suggested that we learn more about where plants come from and choose those that thrive in similar habitats. You can create the terrain the plants really love by adding aggregates, mounding them, creating layered planting with shrubs and small trees. She pointed out that plants grown from seed are often more resilient than those that have been molly-coddled in nurseries and then thrust outside and expected to perform.

Speaking of growing from seed, the Society is busy sowing seeds and potting on some lovely vegetables, cut flowers and annuals for the Dunsfold May Fete. As always, we welcome contributions to the plant stall so why not grow a few extra seedlings for the benefit of others. We would also love any plant divisions that are going begging. Contact if you would like to discuss.

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