I’m Matt, the Head Gardener here at the Montagu arms hotel. By February 2024 I’ll have been with the hotel for two years and I can honestly say that it has been the best two years in my working life.
Since my arrival at the hotel I have been shown nothing but trust by management; allowing me to update the garden where I believe it’s needed and as a result I love every day that I’m here. Having spent nearly two years in this garden I truly feel that it’s become my own.
Each day I walk the garden as if I were a guest, paying attention to every detail that I can, taking notes as I go. My job list is forever growing but being completely honest, that keeps me excited.
I’m self taught and have never actually had a gardening job before. During my interview I explained how happy gardening made me and that I was looking to pursue something that I was passionate about whilst also challenging me. To my surprise, management gave me the opportunity and I will be forever grateful for this.
There are so many parts of my jobs that I love, but if I had to pick just one I would say that it’s spending every day outside surrounded by nature. Experiencing each season, watching the plants bloom in spring and summer, putting on their final display in autumn before going into rest for winter. Also getting to know the various birds that nest within the garden and even befriending the robins. It’s incredibly grounding and quite fascinating to experience it all so close up.
Stay away from pesticides and allow all of nature in. Diversity is key. Have a variety of flowers, shrubs, trees, grasses and even weeds. Create piles of branches, logs and leaves; eventually you’ll find that everything will balance itself out naturally. We use zero pesticides here and our plants go untouched by ‘pests’.
I don’t know if I’ve ever given that question a thought. Is it possible to choose just one?!
My top 10 would include:
• Fatsia Japonica
• Laburnum (golden chain tree)
• Passion flower
• Sweet peas
• Banana plant
• Jade Vine (Strongylodon macrobotrys. Isn’t that the best name ever!)
• Echium Pininana
There’s plenty more I could add to this list. Plants are all so fascinating in their own individual ways.
I try my best to continually add flowers into the garden. Aiming to have flowers from January right through to the end of December, providing for pollinators all year round, particularly bumblebees which seriously need our help, by using a mixture of bulbs, annuals, vegetables, shrubs etc. Also creating spaces for creatures to hibernate in over the cold winter months by piling up leaves, grass cuttings and branches. Animals such as hedgehogs are getting scarily close to extinction and providing spaces like this is a life line for them. We really need them in our gardens. This is a really simple way to help them out, and what’s great is just about anyone can do this.
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