Passionate plantswoman, Ronelle Shuttleworth shares her tips for successfully running her large garden
Ronelle’s massive garden is a no dig garden. Once the soil has been prepared, by being dug over and well composted, it is not dug again. After raking the surface the beds are watered and any weeds which come up are removed. After plants are planted a layer of compost is spread over the surface of the soil.
Ronelle has a working nursery in which cuttings are propagated, seed is harvested and sown and seedlings of cultivars that are difficult to propagate are ordered from Kirchhoff’s a few times a year. She also supports local nurseries especially for new releases.
Ronelle has a wonderful exchange system going with nearby wholesale growers, like Veld and Flora and Focusgrow. They help themselves to cuttings and in return Ronelle receives a discount on trays of their progeny.
This is a winter rainfall garden and it has an irrigation system as well as water from three original and two new boreholes. Water is, however, used sparingly – especially on the kikuyu lawns which by March are often threadbare but bounce back in autumn.
Two weeks before the Open Garden Show, the lawns are fed with 2.3.2. This is the only time a chemical fertiliser is used. The entire garden is worked organically, with Kraggroei (chicken manure) used every six weeks as a feeding programme.
From a labour point of view Ronelle finds it more economical to use Garden Services for mowing the lawns – this frees up her employees to do other garden work.
The 2500 roses in the garden are sprayed with eco-friendly fungicides one week and fed with Neutrog’s Sudden Impact through the growing season. Ronelle stops feeding between May and June and the roses rest until pruned at the end of July, beginning August.