The Pyrus Garden

The Year

The Pyrus Garden

Volume 1

We visited Pyrus in October 2015 as they began the process of laying the foundations of their new project. Moving plants from their old site and setting out the new trial garden - planting, sowing and erecting their first polytunnel. A hive of activity before the calm of winter's freeze.

  • This first growing season is definitely going to be a time of note-taking and careful consideration of the site and soil. Our main concern is ground preparation: getting the soil as clean and well fed as we possibly can. We plan to fill our own cutting garden with plants this year, invest in perennials, shrubs and trees and focus on preparing the rest of the garden for wholesale beds.
    Natalya Ayers and Fiona Inglis

  • So how was the process of moving from your established cutting garden to this new space?
    Moving gardens was very time consuming and we are indebted to our dedicated team of volunteers that relentlessly helped us dig the new beds and replant our existing stock. We methodically worked our way through the old flower garden digging up the successful varieties that we wanted to take with us, dividing as we went along. Consequently we ended up with three times the volume of plants we started with! Obviously this was a blessing in a new and much bigger space and it also meant we were able to leave quite a lot growing in the old garden.

    Your new cutting garden is just taking over a corner of the site in this first year. Why is that and why did you choose that particular part?
    We are developing the garden slowly over a five year period to enable us to cultivate it successfully, by the end of that time we hope to have filled the entire 2.5 acres with flowers. It’s really important for us to get to know the site and understand the soil so we selected the most productive (warmest and sunniest) South West corner of the garden to establish our own cutting garden. These will be our research and development beds and where we will grow the crops for PYRUS events and installations. On a practical note this part of the garden is also closest to amenities, for example the water supply and our studio, saving time walking back and forth through such a big space. We have designed it with a simple, formal layout of flower beds and paths and in the future we will invite our clients here.

  • Does the layout of the new garden follow a particular plan? Are you following a similar layout to your last garden or is this a whole new structure?
    We made lots of mistakes in our first flower garden and learnt so much along the way; we are taking that knowledge and applying it to the new garden. The beds are much bigger for higher volumes of crops which are important as our business grows, the paths are wide enough for a ride-on mower and we are creating a central area among the fragrant herbs where will be able to sit and have coffee with our volunteers and hold client consultations. The key for us managing this big space is to keep on top of basic maintenance through the season, we have kept this in mind when deciding on the layout and structure. There are lots of different Fritillaries as they are among our favourite flowers, together with masses of tulips in a soft smoky palette of ivory, blush, rust, damson and peach. Among the spring flowers we always find Narcissi among the best cutters, and so underrated. The show girls of the spring garden are varieties such as Fritillaria Persica and Crown Imperial but these are expensive crops and don’t always flower strongly on successive years.

  • We planted thousands of bulbs in the autumn, we were conservative in our numbers this year as in past experience they don’t always come through looking quite as expected. We will choose our favourites and bulk up the numbers next season. We were also conscious not to get carried away at the outset, a flower garden like ours is an expensive business and bulb and plant catalogues are ‘children in a sweet shop’ territory!

  • I noticed you’ve erected a polytunnel. Did you have one at your last garden?
    This is our first polytunnel and we are so excited to finally have one, it was a big moment for us! We weren’t able to put one up in our last location and it will be paramount to extending our short Scottish growing season while protecting the softer crops such as Ranuncula and easily damaged white blooms. We hope to erect a series of polytunnels within the next few years to increase our crops of tender varieties, bulbs, tubers and annuals. Most of our germination and propagation will take place in the glasshouse we have installed in Fiona’s private garden; she can monitor the progress much more closely there. We would love to reinstate at least part of the glasshouses that are missing from the south wall; seeking investment or funding to restore the garden to its former Victorian glory.

    In the area you are planting have you done a lot of soil prep or added a lot of organic material?
    We have been very lucky to inherit beautiful loam soil, albeit with a dense seed bed to tackle. Lack of usage in recent years has led to some drainage problems which we are tackling with mushroom compost and working the ground, back in autumn we employed a strict regime of bonemeal and puddle planting to give the plants a good start. We will now top dress and start brewing compost teas in line with our organic methods. The wholesale growing area will be fed regularly so it can work hard for us; it may be turning over two crops a season in places.

  • You did a lot of work at the end of last year, and have since been away on your travels. What’s on the agenda now that you are back?
    Yes, during January/February we take some time away from the garden and the business to travel, research and visit other florists or growers. It is cherished time that allows us to reflect on our plans for the new season and read book upon book on compost, ecology and growing techniques. We have returned raring to go for the new season and spring is almost here; the Blackthorn is out in the hedgerows and the bulbs are pushing through. We are busy with early seeding and ordering compost, the next project is to strip out and ready the inside of the polytunnel for use. Of course that is just the flower garden, we are also in the process of redeveloping our website, planning shoots and submitting proposals for creative projects and events. Our first spring wedding is in just a couple of weeks; we are so looking forward to getting our hands on some flowers again and creating in the studio. There is something particularly transient and ethereal about spring flowers, full of promise and delicate beauty. We hope to capture that excitement and joy in our pieces, the first of the season.

  • The woodland copse is actually our favourite part of the entire garden; it is a peaceful, contemplative space and we love spending time among the trees. We cleared and thinned out the copse in November to allow more light through the canopy and will use this space to grow our shade loving and woodland plants. Imagine a blanket of Snowflakes and Hellebores in early spring, with hammocks strung between the trees. You will find us there, planning, dreaming and plotting.