Almost time to open

Opening day on March 2nd is drawing closer and the pace of activity is increasing exponentially.

We welcomed our garden volunteers back at the beginning of February and they have been as busy as an army of Trojans in bringing the garden back to life after its winter slumbers.

Not that all was quiet over winter. Tony has been busy taking out a row of old apple trees that had become overgrown and were taking over the path they lined. That path was also lined with Geranium x magnificum which is an exquisitely deep blue almost purple geranium that had got too big for its boots and needed splitting.

The teams got to work and that pathway is now looking a little stark but totally really to flower its heart out come the summer. Even better, there is a small clump of Betula utilis var. jacquemontii that glows at this time of year and had been almost hidden from view.

The Cercidiphyllum japonicum (Katsura tree) is also now visible. It’s a modest little thing with heart-shaped leaves for spring and summer but come autumn, the leaves turn many shades of pink and orange and smell delightfully of burnt sugar. We’ve just planted another in Alison’s garden which although tiny, still packs a punch in the scent department.

Work on the Orchid House goes on. As I write, the wind is getting up which makes the awning around it, shake and roar. It has been our constant companion throughout winter and we will be living with it a while longer yet.

The first bay is done – bar a new pane of glass or two to be delivered from the glaziers – and looks fabulous. Our joiner and glazier extraordinaire, George is doing an amazing job. Who knew that every pane of glass varied in size; minutely to be sure but just enough to make putting it back together the equivalent of a 3D jigsaw puzzle? Nope, us neither but George has risen to the challenge like the pro he is and we are truly grateful.

The Gravel Garden is also having a major overhaul. It had got so overgrown in areas that more bashful plants were being hidden and the hooligans were taking over. I adore Achillea filipendulina ‘Gold Plate’ but it grows like the clappers and can fall over in a rather drunken fashion. Likewise, Euphorbia cyparissias ‘Fens Ruby’ (Spurge cypress) had spread way beyond its original space and encroached upon the altogether more polite iris and geraniums. Both have been given a stern talking to and reduced back to manageable proportions.

All this lifting and dividing comes at a great time as we want to grow a lot more of own plants to both put in the garden and sell in the plant centre.

Some plants will be grown from seed and others grown on from cuttings and divisions (which is why it will take up to three years to get them to a size and sturdiness to sell) and Robyn will work with volunteers to do all this. Robyn, who was our WRAGS trainee (Work and Retrain As A Gardener) and is now our assistant volunteer coordinator will manage the work with volunteers and June is hoping to find funding to allow us to employ Robyn two extra days a week to do this.

It’s all happening and we look forward to seeing you soon. I’m building a programme of events, course and exhibitions so do check out the What’s on page on the website for more details. Hope to see you very soon.

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