Posted: January 09th 2019
by Dene Wood, Head Gardener
2018 was another great year in the Gardens Department, we had a somewhat snowy spring followed by very challenging summer which meant that hosepipes and sprinklers were very much the tool of choice, whilst mowers sat idle more than usual.
Ironically, Daniel Beresford (Grass Supervisor) and I had earmarked 2018 as a year for improving the overall quality of all our lawns and parkland verges, with priority to the areas that received the most traffic. You may have seen us adding rolling and quadra-playing (a dynamic lawn amelioration attachment) to our repertoire. We focused on the larger lawns, overflow parking and roadsides in the park. This is an attempt to address compaction issues and improve the overall health of the grass, ensuring that the park looks lush and verdant all the year round.
We devoted more time than ever this season to pushing the standards of the Private Gardens and Arboretum. A large part of this was helping realise the design ambitions of Lucy Roberts whom we work closely with, in that part of the estate.
In September, the gardens team added its first student to the ranks in Martin Griffin; Martin joins us for a 1-year placement as part of the HBGTP scheme. The scheme is an excellent route into our sector for hopeful Horticulturalists and will be something we aim to support each year. Click here to read more about Martin’s placement.
We continued to help maintain first-class locations such as The Victoria, Holkham Studios and St. Withburga’s Church, while also looking for opportunities to push these on even further.
It was great to see growth within our cohort of volunteers who brave conditions year-round to help with our challenging Walled Garden Project. Led by Simon Bosley, volunteers play a crucial role in the walled garden and we hope that, slowly, we are developing the role of the volunteer from that of a “serial weeder” into a much more dynamic one. This year, our volunteers got involved with pruning, harvesting vegetables and cut-flower, floristry, staking, mulching, planting, painting, building, joinery and even mechanics! The list goes on and will continue to develop as we push the quality of the walled gardens forward.
Our Education program, overseen by Education Manager, Sue Penlington, but largely delivered by gardener Lesley Palmer, continues to go from strength to strength and is now in its 5th year. This sees us working with a number of schools but most notably Alderman Peel and Burnham Market Primary School.
Another busy events season saw the gardens team support Easter activities, concerts, outdoor theatre and open-air cinema, the Outlaw Triathlon, wedding receptions, food and plant festivals, Halloween events and most recently, Christmas. Whilst the Horticultural colleges don’t teach you about hanging ghosts in trees or blowing duck poo away from wedding marquees, we are proud to be able to contribute to the huge amount of work that goes into these events!
We are very happy to say that for the first time ever we harvested from our 4-year-old Vineyard. Working in partnership with Chet and Waveney Valley Vineyard, we hope to have the first bottles of wine arriving in the not too distant future! Additionally, we added Saffron to the list of produce that we supply for the Family kitchen.
2018 saw us reach a decision for the future of the Walled Garden Project. It was decided that for various estate reasons, we wouldn’t take up the offer of funding from the Heritage Lottery to move the project onwards. Instead, we decided to draw up a new, 4-year strategy for restoring the listed glass houses and re-imagining the gardens with a novel planting plan. The project is in its infancy but we hope to start work on the glass houses this year and have already started with a new piece of landscaping that will serve to ‘link’ the main entrance of the walled garden with the Samuel Wyatt Vinery and give a more unified feel to the area of arrival. Click here to read more about the project.