If the borders can be compared to a painting, then the lawns must be the gardens frame. They can set off and enhance the plantings as well as being a practical space to relax and absorb the atmosphere of the space. Over the last five years there has been so much to do in renovating the garden at Gravetye, that the lawns have always been low on the priority list. But now that the flower garden beds are beginning to become so rewarding we have decided that the lawns deserve a little love as well.
This all started a few weeks ago when we scarified the grass, a noisy, physical job, which involves removing all of the thatch and moss from the lawn. As this moss builds up amongst the grass it prevents light and moisture reaching the plant resulting in a brown tired lawn by mid-summer. The only solution is to physically remove it. This is started with a mechanical rake and finished by hand and it is astonishing just how much comes out. When it’s finished, you can almost feel the lawns relief. As soon as grass can breathe again, with the help of some fertiliser and fresh grass seed, the results are incredible.
Cutting the lawn is when the rewards can be most enjoyed and if we have time we try to do this twice a week. Alternating the direction of cut helps an even cut and over time builds up a beautiful checkerboard of strips. This always looks good from the rooms in the hotel above the flower garden, offering an aerial view. But best of all however, is the long croquet lawn, which is such a beautiful lawn in so many ways.
It is bordered either side by wild garden and so the contrast between the meadow and the manicured strips is quite powerful. The proportions of the space are so elegant and it offers a pause in the rhythm of the garden. If the garden is nothing but colour and drama then it becomes almost overwhelming. But by having a calm peaceful space the garden balances much better.