Winter to Spring in the Walled Garden

Posted: March 06th 2018

by Dene Wood, Head Gardener

Winter was cold and it was wet, but we were busier than ever. They say you ‘should make hay whilst the sun shines’, but we couldn’t wait for mere astronomical events! We didn’t have the time.

Our team were busy right up to Christmas as we cleared autumn leaves and supported the incredible work that goes into creating the winter wonderland at the hall. As we hit the new year, we welcomed a limited window of opportunity, (before the grass starts to grow again) to work on the projects that will help us move forward. It is now we can realise the potential of the walled garden and other key locations across the estate.

Behind the scenes there is a buzz of activity. In our 18th century walled garden we are fastidiously editing and mulching borders, planting fruit trees, moving shrubs, planning vegetable rotations and ordering seeds. We even found some time to create an exciting new hazel archway and dome with hazel wood taken from the estate coppice.

With spring upon us, our thoughts are turning to soil cultivation on the vegetable patch, including warming the soil for early crops where possible
With spring upon us, our thoughts are turning to soil cultivation on the vegetable patch, including warming the soil for early crops where possible.

We installed a huge upgrade to our irrigation system which involved digging up almost half of the paths in the walled garden. This should ensure that we not only have water in all parts of the garden, but will help us in our aim to have a ‘passive’ watering system on our veg patch. Once installed this will require little intervention from our gardeners, very beneficial at busy times.

We’ve had our annual children’s garden bed design competition and ordered the seeds accordingly, this year’s winning designs will be featured in prime real estate, right at the entrance to the walled garden. Some great designs were provided by the students from Burnham Market Primary School. Whilst all were worthy of the coveted planting space, we whittled it down to two well deserved winners.

We have had to admit defeat on one of our perennial beds, the bed wasn’t properly cleared of bindweed when it was originally planted. This was the opening volley in a war of attrition, gallantly fought by our energetic team of volunteers but sadly lost. We have decided to empty this bed and take it out of use for a season so that we can deal with this pernicious (but genius) plant. This should set us up nicely for our new garden planting scheme.

Towards the end of 2017, the decision was taken not to take the Heritage Lottery Fund up on their generous offer of funding. This offer was the culmination of 4 years work and was a difficult but very educational process which armed us will lots of very useful information. This revelation led to the need for a new re-imagined planting plan and restoration scheme for our dilapidated glasshouses. The new plan was submitted to the trustees and is awaiting approval.

We recently had the great news that we had been had been chosen as one of the host gardens for the Historical and Botanical Gardens Trainee Programme, which will allow us to offer an exciting apprenticeship to an aspiring horticulturalist. Apply now by clicking here. Last applications accepted 1st April 2018.

In a couple of weeks, we will be opening the gates to visitors for another season, we aim to make the gardens better each year so we hope you will join us to see for yourself.

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