Find out what makes our clifftop meadows so unique in our new garden journal.
Written by Gabrielle Bottone
Introducing our garden team
Across the Scarlet and Bedruthan campus, our hard-working team keep our gardens a year-round delight for our guests and local community. We also place a high emphasis on biodiversity and strive to find harmony and balance with nature and our coastal ecosystem, using sustainable gardening methods to protect the future of the soil and land for years to come.
Our team of three includes Jess, our RHS trained specialist, and Rich and Lucy who are our on our garden apprenticeship scheme.
Jess very much enjoys being creative with planting schemes whilst being sympathetic to the habitats and wildlife that we like to encourage throughout the sites. Her plant knowledge and practical skills are of great benefit to our gardening team. She started out in gardening to do something where every day she would be positively impacting the environment and our ecosystem, which over the years being combined with her creative side, has lead her down a more design-led route with planting schemes, aiming to create spaces that benefit the environment, people & wildlife whilst displaying and showcasing the natural beauty of the headland.
Garden apprentice Lucy combines studying with working on gardening projects, grounds maintenance, and anything else that our unique location can challenge her with. With a background in administration and domestic gardening, she is helping the team to get organised and efficient in the best possible way. And Rich, our second apprentice, is retraining as a garden specialist from a construction management background and brings many practical experiences with him. He too is enjoying his further studies in horticulture and loves learning about the diverse environment and ecologies that this beautiful coastal location offers.
Our hotels value design, sustainability and working with the natural environment in which we sit, which is why we place such emphasis on our landscaping ideology. Since initial development of Scarlet's site, we've taken careful measures to protect our precious wildlife all the way through construction, and this continues with bee and butterfly friendly flowers, year-round planting and blooms, pesticide free gardening, and working with native species along the coast. These initiatives are just some of the ways in which we keep the surrounding ecosystems safe and protected. And looking after these delicate spaces and abundant wildlife is especially important as Scarlet leads directly on to the South West Coast Path where every mile matters.
Below are just some of your questions answered by our team. Over the course of the next year, we will be digging deeper into what life is like for our garden team as we move through the seasons. Discover gardening tips, further discussions on sustainability, re-wilding efforts, and the challenges and benefits of plant choice in coastal spaces, as well as more of your questions answered.
Answering your questions
Earlier in the month, we asked you to tell us what you'd like to know from our team:
Tell us more about choosing an apprenticeship with Scarlet? And are you enjoying it?
Lucy: I found the position through Cornwall Duchy and was so thrilled when I was selected to interview…even more so when I was offered the position! Scarlet has a fantastic reputation and the costal campus is very well renowned - to me it felt like a dream place to work. I am enjoying the Apprenticeship so much and we are lucky to have incredibly knowledgeable lecturers, particularly on local habitats and coastal species. The best part of my role is the many tasks we complete each week; mowing, strimming, planting, pruning, growing plants and flowers from seed, hedge cutting and more - there's so much diversity!
What is the most difficult thing about gardening on the edge of a cliff?
Rich: Being on the cliffside, climbing up and down the hills can be tiring - and also having to take my eyes off of the stunning views to do the work!
Lucy: For me, the exposure to the elements (especially in the driving wind and rain) is the most challenging part. However, working outside makes you more in tune with the weather: it gives you a different perspective on the seasons and so far. We have also been very lucky as autumn and the start of winter have been relatively calm.
What’s the best part of your day?
Lucy: I enjoy being outside early in the morning before the hotel and grounds wake up; there's such a sense of peace and calm which is wonderful.
Rich: I love seeing what's changing as the seasons roll on. There is always something new to see, from the fresh growth of existing plants to new plants coming to life.
How do you cope with working in the ever-changing Cornish weather?
Lucy: In this job you have to love working outdoors and as long as you have the right workwear, you’ll be set for most weather conditions. I always bring a change of clothes with me though, as the Cornish weather can be rather unpredictable!
What’s your favourite season when it comes to working on the gardens at Scarlet?
Rich: I couldn't choose as they each have their own charm. So far, I’ve seen a summer, autumn and now a winter at Scarlet, and am looking forward to seeing the bulbs flower and blossom, and new buds opening with fresh, bright green leaves in spring. There is something very grounding about working every season in a garden, knowing that there are fresh starts around the corner.
What plants survive best so close to the sea?
Plants which are salt tolerant, also known as 'halophytes' are a good idea. Succulents can often do well such a Aeoniums. Eryngium, or Sea Holly, make for interesting display with clumps of low level Armeria maritima, or Sea Thrift. Grasses do well such as Ammophila arenaria commonly known as Marram or Beach Grass. The key thing is research to find the right plant for the right location.
We love seeing Sea Pinks in Cornwall. What conditions do they need to grow healthy?
Sea Pinks or Thrift (Armeria maritima) can cope with heavy clay to light sandy soil types which need to be moist but drain well. They can be grown in pots but will require regular watering. Rock gardens are an ideal choice. They like a low nutrient or poor soil in full sun with a south or west facing aspect.
Do you grow anything for the restaurant and kitchens?
We grow several herbs including different types of basil, parsley, mint, rosemary, chives, coriander and fennel in the gardens by the reed pool. Whilst we can’t supply everything required for the varied menus (and there are great local suppliers the chefs have worked with for years), this is something we'd like to try more of as we progress the gardens.
What is your favourite plant, flower or insect, and why?
Rich: I love to watch very busy bees on the huge, architectural flower spikes of the Echiums, or Viper's-bugloss. They just can’t get enough of them!
Lucy: The Corsican hellebores in the Cloister Garden flower throughout winter and it's been incredible to see blooms this time of year.
If you have any other questions about our coastal gardens, please email [email protected] or message via social media and we will try to include them in our next edition.