MARCH/APRIL 2016 MUSINGSBack to the grapevine

Gardening Volunteer at Tatton Park Walled Kitchen Garden, Knutsford, Cheshire

Bumble bees and pear tree buds were in evidence as another sunny morning greeted the Team. The weather had dried sufficiently to start spreading the manure in the Kitchen Garden, and the last of the old raspberries were dug out and carted off to the burning area, where they will be turned into potash to feed the fruit trees later on.
The wooden posts at the ends of the raspberry rows anchored the straining wires on which we trained the raspberry canes. These posts have been in place for a good 15 years – but they were very determined to stay there despite excavations round them, so in the end we had to call in the heavy gear, a tractor with lifting tackle. Even so it was a struggle.
Next to come out were the old red, white and black currant bushes, together with the gooseberries and the six loganberry stools. The area now has to be levelled and sown with grass seed, then mowed for the rest of the season to diminish the horsetail.
Walking in orderly crocodiles several parties of ‘mixed infants’ descended on the gardens with much joy and interest, especially as it was a sunny afternoon.
Two of us continue the long term job of edging the lawns in the Orchard, and ‘excavating’ the Victorian tile edging where it had become overwhelmed over winter by the grass, the manure/bark round the espalier fruit trees, and also the hoggin on the path.
The two stalwart Tree Labellers walked round the Orchard Lawn trees, checking and cleaning the variety labels and making a note of the missing ones, needing to be engraved and replaced. I believe that over the years every tree in Tatton Park Gardens has been labelled and its location plotted by them on a map of the Gardens – such sterling and appreciated work.
‘Bridal Veil’ (Spiraea), Pussy Willow and Hazel catkins are becoming more noticeable in the hedgerows. Weeping Willow is greening up. Daffodils planted on the road verge by farms and occasional cottages on the country road to Ashley are an absolute picture, with celandines and dandelions also vying for attention as is the cherry blossom.
Large clouds of manic midges were observed frantically gyrating over the pots of daffodils around the dipping pond in the Orchard; wood pigeons were seen delicately picking off new buds from the trees surrounding the Kitchen Garden whilst rooks were noisily claiming territory in the taller trees, and lots of blue tits and robins hunting for tasty morsels.
Seed sowing of vegetables is now under way: peas and broad beans have been sown in the ‘lean-to’ glasshouse in the Old Nursery, hopefully away from the attention of the mice and voles until they are well germinated. Three types of cabbages were sown in six-cell trays in the Melon Pit House as the ‘lean-to’ was already full.
The Roald Dahl Centenary Trail round the Formal Garden is certainly a crowd puller, and bark has had to be laid on the muddy patches round the focal points as the grass has been worn away. We can rake, aerate and over-sow grass seed later in the year.
Plum and Pear blossom is breaking out in the Orchard.
Vegetable seed sowing is under way in the Melon Pit House in the Old Nursery and the slip beds in the Kitchen Garden are being dug over.
Now that the peach trees in the Peach Case have flowered the glasshouse is being restored.
There are many volunteer groups/teams supporting Tatton Park’s Vision. It has been decided that later this year all these groups/teams should be brought together under the one title of Tatton Park Volunteers.

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