Tips from a Ribble Valley Garden

Hydrangea lovers aiming for a good show this year might find a spot of heavy pruning could make all the difference.

According to master gardeners Pete and Chris Bristol, brothers behind the stunning displays at the Shireburn Arms at Hurst Green, near Clitheroe in the Ribble Valley, now’s the time to re-invigorate a specimen which is past its best.

Said Pete: “A good tip for keeping a climbing hydrangea in top condition is to remember that if the vine has become spindly, heavy pruning will rejuvenate it. This is best done when the plant is close to coming out of dormancy in late winter or early spring. Prune back the majority of the plant, leaving three to five three-foot-tall stalks. After a heavy pruning, avoid pruning your climbing hydrangea over the next year.”

Positioning plants according to what they like is also an important piece of advice. Climbing hydrangeas are happy in a north facing a position where they will provide coverage for darker and colder walls with large, fragrant clusters of white flowers throughout late spring and summer against a backdrop of dark green, heart-shaped foliage.

Pete and Chris also use begonias in the north facing beds around the Shireburn Arms to bring a burst of colour to shady, wet places.

When it comes to the inn’s sunny, well-drained rear garden the brothers’ challenge is to provide a beautiful backdrop for wedding photographs and pictures for all occasions all year round. The garden enjoys one of the area’s finest views of Pendle and the Ribble Valley and the gardening team has to make sure it always looks its best.

Pete said: “The garden has perfect conditions for some beautiful plants to thrive. There are two cherry trees that look delightful in spring bloom. The garden is a suntrap and we have a pergola planted up with wisteria, which again flowers in spring, making this time of year particularly beautiful for outside photography. These are also easy to look after.”

The planting is predominantly shrubs and perennials but there are also a few buddleias (butterfly bushes) ideal not only for butterflies but for bees and other pollinating insects too.

Words by AKA PR. 

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