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gardening at The Grove

Tash, when did you first start working at The Grove?

I started at The Grove in 2003 while working for McQueens, who still do the flower displays here. It all started when I took a call from Martin Hulbert, asking if McQueens were interested in doing the flowers at The Grove. Even as we drove down the driveway, I said, shall I call ahead and get them to put the kettle on? We just instantly knew we wanted to work with them – we saw how special it is. That feeling hasn’t changed in all the years I’ve been here, which is 14 in total, not counting the break in the middle when we returned to South Africa and started a family!

We’ve seen a lot of changes on The Glasshouse terrace. What are you trying to achieve here?

The old rose garden was very formal. Now there’s an ever-changing prairie style of loose meadow gardening with wild flowers and grasses. We put in lower hedges (Euonymus Japonicus aka‘green rocket’ and Ilex Crenata) to open out the whole area so that people inside The Glasshouse can see much further. I took inspiration from the eco-garden I loved at Chelsea as their yellows and oranges echo the bar and restaurant interiors. We’re featuring two new beautiful species launched at the flower show, the Lupinus ‘desert sun’ and Lupinus ‘towering inferno’, and I’ve added a deep burgundy colour for depth. The outer corners need plants to soften the edges – I call these my ‘shadow plantings’ with a tranquil palette of foliages and whites. It creates a more relaxing effect, whereas the proper borders have more of a punch of colour with all different hues of yellows extending the feeling of The Glasshouse.

What’s your vision for the rest of the estate?

I like to look for what’s trending and create real wow factors. In the Walled Garden we thought it would be fun to turn bring-the-outside-in on its head, so we’re taking-the-inside-out with, for example, an elaborate old chair with sweet peas growing up it in the veg patch. Working with the Wildlife Trust across the whole 300 acres is very important. To support local biodiversity and wildlife, we’re constantly inter-planting with native wild flowers as they cope better with the hotter summers and colder winters of climate change. We created ‘wildlife corridors’ for small creatures to hide and for two months in winter we focus on the woodlands and wetlands. We try to be as green as we can.

Do you have a favourite flower?

The Rose, since I learnt how to care and train them correctly from the previous Head Gardener, David Roberts. Before, I really didn’t appreciate them.

What’s your favourite part of The Grove?

The Grove in its entirety! I am so fortunate, working with the amazing gardens team and the whole family of staff – that sounds rather cheesy, but it’s true. I also love helping to create the visuals in new guest journeys, pop up restaurants etc. and of course sharing tips with guests whenever they come over to chat.

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