One of the lovely things about being a Heritage Gardening Trainee is the fact that we are able to garden in so many different heritage settings. Even within the walls of Gressenhall there are different focuses for each gardening area.
My focus has primarily been on the Dyer’s Garden and the Farmhouse garden. It has been a joy to get to know the volunteers who have spent many years in some cases caring for the different areas. Carol and Jenny who look after the Dyer’s Garden are extremely knowledgeable about the whole process of dying, from which plants to grow for which colour, through to the processes of dying fabric. Carol loaned me a fascinating book about the history of wool industry in Norfolk and how dying yarn and silk was a highly valued skill.
Starting the traineeship in winter was a good time to begin as the Dyer’s Garden was pretty much a blank canvas. Many of the perennial plants had died back for the winter and much of the remaining space is left for last years annual plants to self-seed. Once spring had begun it was an education in itself learning how to distinguish which tiny seedlings we needed to keep and the rogues which needed to be weeded out. Once this was completed which took us about 3 sessions together we could see where the spaces were and we could thing about what to fill them with.
Gardening in the Dyer’s Garden almost forces you to throw out much of the theory of normal gardening – adding feed and compost and mulching in the winter for instance, as many of the plants like bare, dry, stony and impoverished conditions to thrive. After a delightful trip to Norfolk Herbs, a nursery in the tiny village of Dillington, we rushed back to the Dyer’s Garden to place Echinacea and Marjoram, whilst leaving gaps for the Dahlias which wait quietly in bags ready to be planted. Hummocks of daylilies and ? have quickly grown up in the last few weeks. Rustic plant supports, made out of Hazel have been used to allow the Madder to scramble up and the Cotinus has been moved forward after struggling in the shade. I had propagated at home some Achillea Cassis and Rudbeckia fulgida which have also filled some holes. I‘m really looking forward to seeing the blaze of colour later in the summer, when the Dyer’s Garden reaches its peak.
Heritage Gardening Trainee