October 2020

October is the time of year, for me at least to reflect back on the garden year and what’s happened in the garden. I’ll look at planting and think about what’s worked and what hasn’t. I’ll think about changes that might be made and what that might entail.

It’s also the time of year to start some of the work of putting the garden to bed for winter. I’ll begin to plan my winter work, like starting the pruning of the Laburnum Arch. It’s now in need of a good restorative prune which will take two or three years to complete so I’ll be looking at which bits I need to take out in this first year.

Also I will be looking for the first frost that cuts down my beloved dahlias as the sign to lift and clean them prior to bedding them down in compost for their winter snooze.

But perhaps most of all I will be reflecting on the year that has been 2020 so far. It has been a challenging, difficult and for some a heart breaking year and my heart goes out to anyone who have lost a loved one to this wretched virus.

I feel thankful in so many way: not least because the garden was saved from closure by the generosity of its many friends and supporters; but also because of the very big part the garden plays in my own life and well-being.

Research in the last few years has proved beyond doubt that spending even a few hours in a beautiful garden is good for our health and well-being. It has also quantified the benefits of gardening both for physical and mental health and that gardeners benefit even more by gardening as part of a team, perhaps by volunteering as many do here.

Personally I can only say just how important Helmsley Walled Garden  has been to my well-being, both mental and physical this year. Getting back into the garden in June; starting to bring our volunteer team back safely and then tackling the garden which had taken the opportunity to get a bit out of hand and bring it back to life and loveliness has been both demanding and rewarding.

Our volunteers are amazing; they give up their time to tackle every conceivable job you can think of in the garden. They are like family, always there supporting, suggesting, providing cake and sharing their ups and downs. They maintain the garden, run the kiosk, undertake day-to-day maintenance and create ingenious solutions to problems such as the toad ramp in the Dipping Pond.

This has helped to make 2020 more bearable and I am so grateful to be part of the garden. I have found this a year to be thankful for all I have: that I live in this beautiful part of North Yorkshire and that I work in an amazing and beautiful garden. I’m also grateful to everyone who tells me that they enjoy reading about the garden and what everyone is doing. Some of you are kind enough to let me know you’ve read something I’ve written and enjoyed it and I really appreciate it.

After I’ve written this I’ll be outside working in the Clematis Garden, which is the last part of the garden to be restored to life and loveliness. I’ll be thinking of you all working in your gardens and I hope that you find it as much a restorative joy in these tough times.

Look after yourselves and visit when you can

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