wp_20170202_11_40_17_proMy first New Year session at Blickling was just a morning. Just recovering (hopefully) from an inflamed hip I wanted to ease myself back into physical work gradually.It was a lovely bright morning after a foggy start, I had a warm (if ‘bantered’) welcome back from the gardeners and volunteers and it was great to be back.

Gardener Rob was in the course of trimming the yew hedging around the double borders, so I set to raking up and dumping the cuttings in a trailer for later disposal. Over a number of years these cuttings (and especially those gathered in the summer season), have been sold off to a company which turns them (or rather more specifically the oil/resin they contain) into cancer fighting drugs- all the way from Italy. Rob told me that in recent years sales have been dropping off and the money received has also been reducing as the company now has it’s own yew plantations.

I may have mentioned before that the yew used to surround the double borders (Taxus baccata) should eventually grow to form a dense hedge that can be cut to the traditional sharp-edged shapes reminiscent of many ‘heritage gardens’. however, there is a bit of doubt about the purity of the variety we have here, as the Trust’s gardens advisor thought it might be from a commercially-developed strain which is less dense. Certainly here at Blickling after about ten years growth, whilst there are some nice thick areas, there are also patches where holes are evident. Hopefully with continuous trimming new, short growth will sprout and so eventually we’ll get the full effect anticipated.

In any event the carefully cut returns on the hedges- shaped using templates to mirror the gables on the windows in the House- are starting to look nicely defined-see the pictures below. Rob was also having to measure the heights of the hedging as the land slopes upwards towards the end, meaning to keep the whole thing looking visually right he would need to progressively shorten the height of the hedge (and so the top facet of the sculpted returns would be lost at the end).

As we progressed through the morning Rob and I discussed ideas for improving the ‘Black Garden’ which sits at one end of the double borders, from where there is a ‘classic’ view of Blickling, taking in the House, parterre and lake beyond (see pictures below). This area suffers from a definite slope and this and a lack of continuity of the hedging and edging helps to divorce it from the double borders. Ideas include trying to more closely tie it into the rest of the area by repeating a circular gravelled area (which needs to be wide enough to allow a tractor and trailer to turn), and repositioning the large seat from where you get the ‘classic’ view. I think levelling the space is important and I like the idea of tying it into the rest of the double borders, but it will be tricky trying to get paths to fit visually and to meet the practical needs of the gardeners. I gather that there’s also the possibility of a viewing tower being erected nearby which would also afford wonderful views over the parterre and the wider estate. It will be interesting to see some designs on paper.

Well, my morning went by and my leg caused me no problems, so hopefully I can gradually build up my strength once more and get back to longer sessions here- and in my own garden.

Further Information:

Blickling Hall website

Blickling Hall Facebook page

A 360 degree tour of Blickling Hall

Old School Gardener