Undeterred by torrential rain!

There was torrential rain and high winds both before and after this lovely photo of potential new volunteers being shown round the Gardens!

When the sun was shining the Gardens looked fabulous – with the honey bees buzzing around the peach blossom; and daffodils in every direction. Of course our stalwart volunteers were there: picking up branches brought down by the wind; doing some planting and weeding; and putting new fencing around the stumpery. Meanwhile, the Trustees inspected the lily pond and reached decisions on the restoration work required, before we replant the lilies and refill it.

So,  we showed the joy of our volunteering as well as the grit needed – and of course we had our excellent cakes too as an enticement for our potential recruits!


We are blossoming!

It was a cold, windy day but there were sunny spells when it was warm in the Italian Garden and in other sheltered spots. And the early blossom on the trees shows spring is here!

As we are returning more Japanese features to the Gardens, is there a case for lovingly tending the moss on the Archive building roof? For those who missed it, try catching up on the Monty Don Japanese gardens two-part series to see the infinite care given to perfecting moss gardens.

Volunteers continued working on the Italian Garden lily pond and we were taking advice from a range of experts on best steps to maintain its fabric…decisions are pending.

It’s our new volunteers’ day next week. Why not come and join us?!!


All ready for action

The big pond clean up has started…. the men manned the pump and took care of the fish, while Christine pretty much single handed barrowed away old weed for composting. As I write the pump is still whirring away and we hope that on Saturday we will be able to remove the lilies, divide them and clean up the base. Fingers crossed that the pump does the trick by then!

Elsewhere, snowdrop clumps were divided, so that they should be even more spectacular next year – although we cannot bank on them coming out so perfectly on time next year and with such glorious weather!

These last two snowdrop weekends have probably been exceptional though – together with group tours we have already welcomed nearly 3000 visitors to the Gardens!




Looking beautiful

Come and see for yourself – the weather is set fair! For this Sunday’s Open Day the snowdrops are perfect; we have lots of snowdrops in the green ready and our beautiful snowdrop mugs and vases for sale; and of course Carolyn has stocked up on kilos of bacon, homemade soup and cakes a-plenty.

Our volunteers have managed to get gardening jobs done as well as preparation for the first Open Day of the season – pruning and clearing ready for further new planting.


More snowdrops revealed!

The new fence at the top of the walled kitchen garden looks so much better than the scrappy red and white “keep out” tape! And the clearance work at the top end of the garden has also revealed how many snowdrops there are in among the rubble of the final unmanaged corner of the garden.

Yesterday volunteers tackled a wide range of jobs: pruning, planting, building a new wood wall and of course a bit more digging too!

The snowdrops are coming out perfectly on cue for our first groups of visitors in 2019 and our snowdrop open days on 17 and 24 February.



Winter in the gardens

With the thermometer barely reaching three degrees above freezing an incredible 18 volunteers came to the Gardens this Thursday.  There could almost have been a competition for  the greatest  number of layers of clothing everyone was wearing to keep the cold at bay – but what a lot was achieved.  Down at the rhododendron area the work was begun on digging out the weeds and pruning the shrubs ready to begin the new planting in spring.  More wood chipping was put down on muddy areas, a huge pile of logs was made ready for selling on open Sundays and David beavered away in the comparative warmth of the poly tunnel preparing the wooden benches for a fresh coat of paint and oil. Weeding, tidying and pruning were the order of the day in the Italian garden and elsewhere and not a moan or groan about the cold was heard anywhere!


Bitter wind doesn’t deter hardy volunteers

In spite of a bitter, winter wind, 19 volunteers were at the Gardens this Thursday.  With huge piles of wood chippings to spread on bare areas and dead branches to clear from the safety tree work carried out by a specialist team of arborists working throughout the day everyone managed to keep warm and cheerful.  The newly planned Japanese feature near the lakes is now underway and the woodchip path put in this Thursday shows the start of the planned layout of this exciting additional feature to the Gardens.  Watch this space!


Closed season jobs continue

David has been creating this fabulous chessboard.

Meanwhile the transformation of the walled kitchen garden continues. Sam is continuing his herculean task of clearing bracken from the top end, carefully lifting and replanting snowdrops and daffodils as he goes. Roger, Rod and Terry have started building a low fence to section off the top end. We’ve pruned the soft fruit and weeded and prepped the vegetable and flower borders ready for the new year.

Elsewhere we managed some more planting and weeding (including more effort to get on top of that pesky celandine)!


Getting into shape for the new year

We volunteers were all a bit rusty, but looking forward to some fresh air after all those mince pies…so we had a gentle day, enjoying the camaraderie and tranquility of the Gardens. And we got some work done too!  Roger gave the two bay trees in the Italian garden a good haircut: having been rescued, they can never be beautiful standards like the prunus lusitanica (Portuguese laurel)in the inner beds, but they now stand more elegantly in their corners!

Sam was doing more clearance in the far end of the walled kitchen garden, making it ready for grass planting around the vegetable beds; Rod was clearing brambles in the lime walk; and others were variously pruning, leaf raking and tidying.



Strictly pruning

Pruning beautifully in synch, even without music!

A wide range of tasks were completed this week – here are a few of them. The compost bins in the walled kitchen garden were emptied into the new raised beds. Roger trimmed the lavender hedge along the top of the Italian garden. David made good progress on a new chess board.  Sue did a tree survey. And several of us cut back herbaceous plants in the walled kitchen garden and Italian garden.

It was a grey, damp day until the sun finally broke through the cloud and lit up the Italian garden to give us some lovely vistas just as we were finishing off.




The black arts of compost

Compost is universally prized in the Gardens, but how to make it is more controversial! Today was the day for turning one bin over into the next, to mix it, and hopefully accelerate it; whilst making space for more in the emptied bin. We are also agreeing new rules for what goes in, and more importantly what doesn’t – we don’t want to spread the invasive weeds that we have already (bind weed, those stinky alliums, just to name a couple!!).

Unfortunately, we can’t add our cardboard cups to the mix – we get through too many and they have thin plastic liners. Alternative fully compostable cups need to be composted at a higher temperature than we can manage in our ordinary compost bins and we don’t make food waste to make for a richer mix. So, we will cut down on their non-essential use, while we keep looking for alternative cups and composters.

So, another winter job done!