JAN/FEB 2015 MUSINGS by Maz, Gardening Volunteer at Tatton Park Kitchen Garden, Knutsford, Cheshire
It has become a tradition on the First Tuesday in January for the Tuesday Team to walk from the Mansion Stable Yard through the Park to Knutsford, have a coffee and chat at a lovely café, and then walk back to the Stable Yard for lunch in the Restaurant there; most enjoyable with good company, if a little wet until the afternoon. Weather permitting we start work on the second Tuesday.
I hope you all did your ploughing on Plough Monday and that you will enjoy Wassailing at the weekend following.
Our first Tuesday of work saw the Team ‘rhodo-bashing’ between Mercury and the Monument (sounds like a pop group!). This essential work is done every year to keep the rhododendron under control and rejuvenated; the Team gently worked their muscles back to fitness after a month’s “rest”. The weather was cold in the morning, snow at lunchtime and sunshine as we packed up for the day. Another Tuesday, another déjà vu in all respects, luckily for the ‘r-b’ Team.
‘Kung hey fat choi’: Happy New Chinese Year of the Wooden Sheep which starts with February’s full moon.
When the restoration of the Walled Kitchen Garden took place in the early part of this century, there was insufficient funding to restore the likewise walled Old Nursery which once provided plants for both the kitchen garden and formal garden. This fantastic and once productive space slumbered on unloved until recently. One stalwart gardener is now slowly and determinedly bringing this huge area back to life, and there is an exciting Project in the offing. The last remaining sunken Melon Pit (there were originally three) is to be put back into use growing melons, following some urgently needed tlc. The roof lights are to be repaired, the contaminated soil from the brick waist high raised beds removed, and refilled with manure to create hot-beds. When up and running it is intended that interested visitors will be given a conducted tour and brief talk about the history of the melon pit, which is 76ft long and 10ft wide, with half the height sunk below ground level, to retain heat. Before this can happen the access steps will be checked, safe paths need to be laid circum-navigating the melon pit, together with a ramp for disabled access into the pit house.
Another bright cold day but two bonfires were providing welcome heat. Tree felling and clearing was the order of the day for the Team, to open views both across the parkland and around the Japanese Garden. Meanwhile I cleared the weeds and debris from the gutters of the Melon Pit and tidied up pots and trays in the morning, and in the afternoon raked back soil from the edges of the slip bed lawns in the Orchard where a cheeky mole had deposited its molehills in a long line along the edges.
Half Term sees the Scarecrow Festival in the Formal Gardens. The bright sunshine brought out lots of families to enjoy spotting them. The volunteers had to keep moving so they weren’t mistaken for a scarecrow.
The start of seed sowing and pricking out has been badly delayed due to the glasshouse still waiting for repairs to be completed. As the builders have been ‘pulled off’ to work on the Tenants Hall for five weeks it could be nearer Easter before production can begin. Hopefully with our good facilities we will be able to catch up.
A bright but very cold morning saw the Team down by the Japanese Garden, planting Willow cuttings to add another dimension to the space. In the afternoon the American Garden got a weed-through, and the soft fruit beds saw the start of a weed and tidy.