A Brilliant Year

Heritage Gardening Trainees 2011-2012

Nigel and Kay have just finished their 12 months with us and we are very sad to see them leave. They are the first members of our  Skills for the Future family to complete their traineeships.  Over the last year they have been fantastic and achieved so much. I asked them both for their recollections of the last 12 months.

How time flies… a year on and the heritage gardening traineeship is over. It’s been a year of new friendships, skills and also new aches and pains!

So what have I done? Well one of the major memories is undoubtedly the pruning and tying in of the many climbing and rambling roses at Peckover House- where Kay and I spent about six months over the summer and winter. This is a good example of where skills learned were transferred to Gressenhall- I was especially pleased to see the results of the gardening team’s efforts on the ‘Rambling Rector’ rose, now trained and recently flowering in profusion over the arbour in the wildlife garden.

Kay & Nigel at Peckover House

I think I can also claim a place in any Olympic team for edging and cutting grass! This meant learning how to use different sizes and types of mower as well as trying to cut in attractive patterns around lines of yew trees, round rhododendrons at Salle Park (our second placement) and keeping our lines straight on Peckover’s pristine lawns.

And I can’t forget all the sowing of vegetable and flower seed, potting on and planting out, which seemed almost on an industrial scale at Salle Park, where the glorious 2 acre walled garden is the major focus of the gardening effort.


Walking through the grounds at Salle Park

The opportunity to use my existing skills, try out new-found ones and also to experiment a little has been one of the joys of this placement. I’ve been able to do this in a number of areas at Gressenhall but most especially in the redesign and remodelling of the Education Garden, where I was able to combine garden and play area design, and more importantly, with volunteer help, seeing this through to completion. I hope that you like the result, which I think is starting to mature nicely. 

Nigel in the new Curiosity Corner garden

Carrying out a ‘Gardens Review’ at the Museum was a major winter task. This will, hopefully, not only provide a record of the dozen or so gardens and open spaces at Gressenhall (using a range of historical, photographic and other survey information), but will in due course provide a useful prompt for discussions about how the different areas need to be cared for and in some cases further developed.

Another feature of the placement has been the opportunity to extend my knowledge through a distance learning course in various aspects of horticulture. Coupled with the chance to learn about the National Trust’s and other organisations’ policies and procedures, this new learning will be of great benefit in any future heritage gardening role.

I must not finish without thanking all those who have made the year so  enjoyable and stimulating; especially Allison, Jenny and Janet at Peckover House, Katie and Steve at Salle Park, Lynne and all the garden volunteers at Gressenhall, Christine and the other Museum ‘Friends’ and a large number of Museum staff, too many to name. And I mustn’t forget my ‘partner in crime’, Kay, who has been a joy to work with over the year.

Nigel Boldero

We wish them both all the best for the future.