Actually it’s been nearly a year since I last wrote a blog. This year has been an eventful one for me, not only in my home life but in my gardening life too.
In June this year I decided that my gardening business was no longer giving me the satisfaction (or the financial comfort) that I had when I first started. So after many attempts at job applications to anyone and everyone and kept being told I didn’t have what they were looking for or I had too many qualifications just not in the right areas I came across a job advert for a Gardener at my local, private residence hall on the North Norfolk Coast. It’s a place I’ve walked around many times and always admired the six acre walled garden but could only dream of working there. Needless to say I applied and I spent a long while writing a covering letter about how much I loved the gardens and the park and how I came to be in the Horticultural profession.
I was lucky enough to land myself an interview and a week later I went back for a second interview as they had whittled it down to two of us. I was really doubting myself that I would get the job because the other candidate was a lot older than me and had already been working on other estates of a similar nature. Luckily though they couldn’t choose between the two of us and they ended up taking both of us on. I started late July this year and I have loved every minute of it! It has taught me many new things already. Not just about gardening but about gardeners ourselves.
There are 7 of us on our team, myself being the only female and rather lacking in height compared to the lads, but each of us has a different strength. My boss, DW, the head gardener, is a veg man. Like me, he got his love for gardening from his grandfather. He showed him how to grow veg and DW told me a story of how he helped his grandad one day tying his runner beans up. His grandad said to him ‘you’re doing it wrong’ to which DW asked why. He had twisted the stem the wrong way around the cane and beans, as many of you will know, wrap themselves a certain way around the cane because of geotropism. An invaluable piece of knowledge to be passed down.
Then there’s the manager of the walled garden. He ran a nursery with his parents before moving to the hall and he is a people person. He doesn’t have any interest in veg because ‘why would you want to put all that effort into growing something that another animal is going to eat?’ (we have a slight problem with pigeons, pheasants, and rabbits not to mention the cabbage white on the brassicas). But S loves nothing more than to get stuck in with our volunteers and re-shape the future of the garden and seeing plants thrive in the beds.
T is a more organic gardener and this winter is going to be implementing a ‘no-dig’ bed using his own compost made from the shredded plant material from the walled garden and leaves off the estate. He grows veg too and has had a very successful year with onions, carrot, chard and varieties of squash, with the latter three still producing good crops. He knows his stuff about ornamentals too and always has a thirst for more knowledge.
We also have DB on the team who loves nothing else but grass. He doesn’t really care for flowering plants (only in his own garden but shhh that’s a secret) and has had an amazing time this last month with a vertislitter aerating all the lawn areas on the estate. I drew a classic picture of a clump of grass with a seed head one day on the bottom of his mug and he said I had drawn annual rye grass (Poa annua). DB has been asked by members of the public if the lawns he maintains by the corporate function room are in fact real or astro turf because they look too good!
DH likes to do the mowing and care in the other public areas of the estate such as the village, industrial complex and the pub. He takes great pride in what he does and is even re-instating the bowling green in the village with his favourite piece of machinery being a flail mower that is used on the steep hill to cut the meadow like grass up at the estate church.
Now P (the other new employee alongside my self) doesn’t know much about flowers but is a machinery guy. He and DB share the mowing and they also have a mutual love of mole hunting (another pesky pest problem). He knows a bit about trees too but also shares one of DB’s passions of creating foods and drinks with the produce that comes from nature.
Lastly onto me. You already know a little bit of my gardening preferences but I generally love all things gardening. I get excited when cuttings I’ve taken have shot, I love the idea of producing my own food, I always want to know more about any plant that is a bit quirky and will try my hand at any different gardening techniques such as Bonsai (not very successful), topiary, landscaping and making my own juice from fruits. I do also enjoy a good grass cut every now and again. Seeing those perfectly alternating lines in the grass gives me huge satisfaction.
My new job has made me realise that us gardeners are much like plants – no two are the same yet we all have a common interest. So what type of gardener are you?
P.s. I’ve been given the task of learning about all things Fig and how to get them to fruit so if you have any tips or secrets please let me know!