Chard providing a bit of winter colour in the walled garden

Chard providing a bit of winter colour in the walled garden

In the last visit to Blickling before Christmas we had only a morning session followed by a wonderful Christmas buffet lunch where all the gardeners and Thursday volunteers shared a lovely spread in the education room.

Digging over the parterre border

Digging over the parterre border

The morning’s work began with the ladies going off to dig over the long border by the parterre (you may recall we chopped down the spent growth here a week or two ago). Fellow volunteer Peter and I helped gardener Jane (newly returned from a birdwatching holiday in Australia) in tidying up (yet more) leaves. This was a case of loading up from a big pile, rather than blowing like last time. Oh, and I discovered that we volunteers will not be able to use any machinery in future unless we have been on an accredited course, so it may be my flirtation with the various bits of kit here is a brief one!

After an hour of leaf loading (they were rather wet and heavy so my arms and shoulders were beginning to ache), Peter and I headed off to the Walled Garden.

Project Manager Mike was already here. I hadn’t been in the walled garden for a few weeks and it was pleasing to see the progress and to hear of Mike’s plans for the New Year.

Taking shape- metal posts awaiting fixing alongside the main paths- they will carry a selection of apples and pears trained as fans or espaliers

Taking shape- metal posts awaiting fixing alongside the main paths- they will carry a selection of apples and pears trained as fans or espaliers

Mike himself was just finishing off hole digging for the last of many metal posts that will carry wires and a selection of apples and pears grown as fans or espaliers. Mike told me that a local apple growing project had managed to identify all of the different apple varieties growing on the walls, some of which were not as currently labelled! He’s still pondering whether to put up wooden battens to fix new wires here, but as this is not normal or historic practice, thinks it might be a case of fixing vine eyes directly into the walls.

Some of the metal path edging is in now but contractors will be finishing this off in the New Year. It also looks like the drainage is all in place. I mentioned in an earlier post that money has been secured to fit out a new gardeners’ bothy (though Mike is having second thoughts about a wood burner in here as he doesn’t want it to be too comfortable!). And the refurbishment of the second big greenhouse is also planned for early in the New Year.

So, having got the low down on everything, Peter and I set about trench digging for the wooden edging boards that will be used in some of the more minor cross paths in the growing areas. These oak boards and pegs had already been prepared by the ‘Wednesday Volunteers’ and they smelled lovely stacked up outside the bothy- in- waiting.

My trench with Peter in the background, preparing for oak edging boards.

My trench with peter in the background, preparing for oak edging boards.

It took me about 45 minutes to finish one trench, just long enough to take me up to that Christmas Lunch. It was a nice event, with Head Gardener Paul thanking us all for our efforts during the year. As well as receiving a Christmas ‘thank you’ card from all of the gardening team, we each took away a bottle of wine and a bag of apples that Mike had gathered from the walled garden. A nice touch.

Oak boards and pegs awaiting installation

Oak boards and pegs awaiting installation

I can’t believe that it’s nearly a year since I began volunteering here; a year which has been a joy.

Further Information:

Blickling Hall website

Blickling Hall Facebook page

A 360 degree tour of Blickling Hall

Old School Gardener

 

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