Gardening Volunteer at Tatton Park Walled Kitchen Garden, Knutsford, Cheshire.
The Glasshouse ranges are awaiting restoration funding, which is a long drawn out process. They are being slightly disguised by foliage covered frames used for the maze representation at this year’s RHS Show here in July – good recycling.
Corrective pruning of the freestanding fruit trees in the Orchard Lawn continues; the height of the apple trees has been reduced so that ladders are not required to pick the fruit, and later in the year the pear trees will be retrained into pyramidal shapes.
In the Kitchen Garden the Team are harvesting vegetables until they come out of their ears, and the restaurant is hard pressed to use all the produce provided.
The Topiary Garden behind the Rose Garden is receiving its final cut of the year; much activity and high rise towers needed to precision trim the various shapes.
Box hedging in the Orchard and Kitchen Garden also received a final haircut to look smart through Autumn, Winter and Spring.
Apple Tasting Day once again proved a great success as the vintage varieties of apples grown here have not been available in the shops for many decades. In previous years some windfalls were taken down to the Home Farm for the pigs to enjoy, but this year it was decided they were getting too spoilt. So now the windfalls are being turned into juice and chutneys.
Large amounts of compostable greenery from vegetable waste is being collected weekly and then the compost bays in the woodland beyond the Kitchen Garden will shortly be filled to the brim in one go, thus enabling ‘hot heaps’ to be made, to ‘cook’ the compost to produce good nutritious and disease free mulch for the Kitchen Garden beds. The heat generated could also be used to heat cold frames on top of the compost bays for winter salads.
The Annual Volunteers’ Conference was very enjoyable and informative. The future programme of visitor enhancements was outlined, with regeneration of the Stable Yard visitor area taking place in the next year or so. The Rangers Volunteer Team outlined the work they did in the wider Parkland; the Home Farm Team gave a full briefing of the restoration of buildings on the Farm to enhance the family visitors experience; the Living History enactors and the Mansion Archivists described the work undertaken to reveal the Egerton family history, and the Garden Volunteers Team Leader (aka the Head Gardener) gave a very amusing ‘battle plan outline’ for the hopeful winter eradication task force of the very invasive Rhododendron ponticum which is endangering the plant collections in the Formal Gardens. All this information will be very useful in our role as ‘ambassadors’ for Tatton Park when chatting with visitors and answering their numerous questions.
Leaves, leaves and more leaves, some blown into piles by the strong winds we have recently experienced. All will be gathered to make leaf mould to feed the Garden plantlife in due course. Not quite a mountain, more of a large hill of goodness.
A large crop of Pumpkins has been garnered and displayed in the Peach Case and Entrance corridor. Later there will be cauldrons of pumpkin soup made in the Stables Restaurant and pumpkin pie in the Gardeners Cottage, which this year won the top café award. The Secret History of Tatton Park discovery programme for children throughout the year has been very successful, and continues with a ghost and ghouls theme during half term and then Halloween with scarecrows.