This week we have two connected blogs for you about our wonderful Gressenhall Gardens:
The Farmhouse Garden
A main focus of our work at Gressenhall as Heritage Gardening Trainees, so far, is the Farmhouse Garden. Following on from Scott’s hard work last year and a very mild winter, a new approach has been taken as we are limited by how much labour is available from our wonderful volunteers. The volunteers at Gressenhall do an amazing job of looking after the gardens. Not only do they keep the weeds down but they bring armfuls of plants to enhance and develop the gardens.
Last year under Scott’s care the Farmhouse Garden had been mainly laid to annual vegetables and fruit. We quickly realised that we would not be able to continue to do this on a part time basis. So work began to try and create the feel of a working Farmhouse Garden, but aiming to keep down the amount of labour that was needed to maintain it. With this in mind we have converted one of the vegetable patches with a mixture of soft fruit and perennial vegetables.
We have planted raspberry canes, gooseberries and currants alongside asparagus, cardoons, fennel, Jerusalem artichokes, rhubarb, French sorrel and chives. Some nasturtium and marigold seedlings, self sown from last year have appeared along the edge of the bed to provide some colour. Plants found around the garden have been replanted in larger groups to provide a bigger impact of colour through the year and to cover more ground giving less space to weeds. A big challenge has been to keep the weeds down on the path, but hopefully doing the PA1 and PA6 spraying certificate will end their reign. A decision has been made to return to grass some areas in the garden – the area under the apple trees and a large bed in the centre.
The garden has been improved immensely by the hard work of the landscape trainees who laid the hedges all the way round. This has opened up the garden to more light but also made it quite a windy site. This has meant that during a dry spring the plants have struggled with drying out after being moved. Luckily after a few downpours they have recovered and we have enjoyed seeing the garden in full flower during the summer.
Heritage Gardening Trainee
Guest Blog From Former Heritage Gardening Trainee, Kay Davis
When I was asked to help mentor the new Skills for the Future Trainees I leapt at the opportunity. I hoped I would be able to pass on some of the enthusiasm and knowledge I gained when I first started my training several years ago.
The two trainees Sam and Sonny were and still are keen to gain as much information as possible. We set up a few tasks and soon had a diary list for them. So far we have achieved a small survey and re-design of part of the farmhouse garden. This is on going and both Sam and Sonny have made great progress. Sonny created a bug/fernery in the wildlife garden and already more insects have been spotted. Sam has been busy propagating, dividing and splitting plants from different areas of the site and re-using them where needed. They have also identified and listed existing plants from the different gardens.
Sonny and Sam are also undertaking the RHS level 2 Certificate in Horticulture. It is challenging in different ways for both of them and is definitely keeping me on my toes; I’ve never done so much revision!
I hope everyone can see the changes and is enjoying having Sonny and Sam on site. I know I am enjoying being a mentor at Gressenhall.