Home Gardening Tips from Chris, our Group Estates Manager

What better way to spend the day than in the garden surrounded by flourishing greenery and glorious bird song.

With the sun beaming down and plenty of time on our hands we thought the best way to keep busy is by tending to our shrubs, plants and bushes! We had a chat with our Group Estates Manager, Chris Holdsworth to get some handy gardening tips!

So Chris, how did you become a Gardener?

My love of horticulture started at a very early age when I tended an allotment with my Dad. I was 4 years old when I started helping him grow vegetables and dahlias. As I got older, I was then able to mow the lawns and dig over the plots. The other inspiration for becoming a gardener were my school visits to the First World War battlefields. I was amazed by the detail and the tidiness of the cemeteries; the edging was particularly outstanding and the peacefulness was very apparent.

My horticultural career began in a country house hotel on the outskirts of Stratford-upon-Avon in 1987; 10 years to the day I became Head Gardner at the same property. I started at Eden Hotel Collection in 2006 as Group Estates Manager.


What jobs are you focusing on in the garden this month?

May is always a very busy month in the gardens as everything is growing so rapidly. The lawns require mowing, the edging needs to be kept up to date along with watering, weeding and sowing seeds in the veg garden. The main focus would be the bedding plants that we are growing in the polytunnel for our summer displays. We have bought in 3,500 plugs which will be grown on and then planted out into the various properties.


For beginner gardeners what easy and fast growing foods could they look to be planting right now?

If you are short of space then a good starting point would be beansprouts and salad leaves which can be started on a windowsill in the house and can be harvested from there. Outside growing could include beans (dwarf, runner), beetroot and radish.


Are there any seasonal gardening jobs that we should be getting on with in our gardens?

Late Spring gardening jobs that should be carried out now would be:

  • Staking tall perennial plants e.g. Delphinium, to stop them blowing over.
  • Pruning winter flowering shrubs e.g. Forsythia, winter flowering Honeysuckle and Vibernum Tinus
  • Always check for nesting birds before carrying out the above
  • Look out for gaps in borders and possibly take a photo, then in Autumn you can plant bulbs to fill the gaps for next Spring


How can we encourage more wildlife into our gardens?

Some of the ways that we can encourage more birds into our gardens is to provide bird feeders and nesting boxes. Leave areas of lawn uncut to grow wild flowers which will encourage butterflies and if you have any quieter areas of garden, piles of sticks make great bug hotels!

Small water features and shallow ponds will also attract an array of wildlife into your garden.


Do you have any easy composting tips to help home gardens flourish?

A small compost heap can be made from pallets or posts and chicken wire. Grass clippings, leaves, green kitchen waste and shredded garden waste can be arranged in layers and covered with carpet or black polythene, this will keep the heat in and break down into a usable compost for your garden. The compost will then be used as a mulch on your flower beds and as a soil conditioner.


In your opinion why is gardening relaxing, therapeutic and enjoyable.

For me, being outside with the birdsong, wind in the trees, smell of flowers and the sound of water are sounds and sensations associated with mindfulness and calm. The enjoyable part of the job for me, too many to list, is being able to see transformation and restoration within the gardens, other peoples enjoyment of the gardens along with the growing of the leaves, fruit and veg for the chefs. Whatever the weather, it has to be the best job in the world!


What can our guests expect when returning to our Hotels 

Guests can expect flourishes of pastel colours complimenting the many shades of green and an abundance of vegetables ready to be prepared in our kitchens just for you!


We hope Chris’s great advice has inspired you to make the most of the sunshine and get into your own gardens this month.