Summer 2019

What a dramatic entrance to the Walled Garden: four huge Cotton Thistles! Museum visitors who venture out into the garden just have to find out what else there is to see!

We promised that this third summer of the Garden would see it 'blossoming', and it is, just in time for Cleo Mussi's exhibition, ' Mussi's Herbal'. A visit to the exhibition must be followed by a viewing of Cleo's borders in the Garden.

The planting is filling out, with new additions to keep up the succession of interest. Clematis and roses are scrambling up the new metal obelisks. The beehive has all but disappeared into the meadow, now turning purple with knapweed. 

Now we know the areas which need extra attention - water, compost, supports. ... and where the slugs and snails live! We've had much - needed help from Sarah Parker this year: have you seen the squashes and courgettes at the pergola? The plants are thriving on her attention, our ‘natural’ slug defences, and the organic seaweed feed Sarah is giving them. Soon, Geoff will try the same treatment in the lawn.

Spend an hour in the Walled Garden and you'll meet all sorts of people. There are those who come with friends for a day out, discover the Museum and find there's so much to see that they will ‘have to come again, and bring other people’.

There are the family groups in the school holidays, looking for activities to enjoy. Recently, we met a lady who had been in the Garden with a school group in the very early days, when all we had was the new Pavilion, accessed via the side gate and the old steps, with bright orange fencing to keep us away from the mud, diggers and mess. 'That's all history now', she said, looking across the glorious borders from the Pavilion terrace.

Nowadays we are drawing the gardening fans, looking with expert eyes at the plants and the layout of the garden. They tell us they are visitors to other Garden properties and our Garden compares with the best they've seen'. How lovely!

Some pass on advice and suggestions, not realising that there is no ' Head Gardener', just a team of volunteers, working to an artist designer's vision.

But our greatest thrill and pleasure comes when visitors arrive at the Garden feeling tired, or troubled in some way. They tell us that, after a little while sitting in the Garden, they feel much better. The garden walls create a space separate from outside concerns, where there is time to sit, simply do nothing and get back in touch with the really important elements of life. We firmly believe in the Spirit of the Place and that is indeed a wonderful gift to be shared.

Ann Taylor & Caroline Dicker (garden volunteers)

Spring 2019

Walled Garden volunteers update, prepared by Ann Taylor.

This year the Walled Garden will be in its third Summer.  It’s April and already much has happened in the Walled Garden since Christmas. The winter has not been so cold as last year; just as well, as strong winds in January ripped the protective fleecing from the Bay and Olive trees (and tipped over the Auricula Theatre, requiring repairs by  volunteer Geoff).  

The snowdrops then appeared, a special collection to tell a new story in the Walled Garden, that of the Giant Snowdrop Company (GSC) of Hyde, Stroud. In the mid-1950s until the early 60s, Brigadier Mathias and his wife, Winifrede, with Arthur Ransom, established a mail- order business, selling snowdrops from their grounds at Hyde Lodge. The idea was a 'first'; never before had it been possible for ordinary people to purchase special varieties of snowdrops for their gardens, alongside  common snowdrop, Galanthus Nivalis.  The Walled Garden display showed some 15 varieties of snowdrops from the GSC catalogue (pictured), thanks to help from local Galanthophiles, writer Jane Kilpatrick and members of the Mathias and Ransom families. These families generously donated archive material to the Museum Collection, which was displayed in the foyer until the end of March.

The Meadow and Orchard is now protected by a smart new rope (pictured), allowing the wildflowers to grow undisturbed and the bees unhindered; the cowslips are in flower now, and the fritillaries have expanded across the slope; our pear trees and plums are in blossom, with the apple trees to follow. There's a quince now, too, donated by a neighbour in Uplands of one of our volunteers; and the Nursery at Miserden continues to support us with plants for sale. 

The Friends have purchased some sturdy but beautiful plant supports this Spring (pictured), which the volunteers have begun to put into position. No more frantic propping - up of flopping blooms with makeshift sticks and string! This summer, the gorgeous mass of colours will stand up to be seen!

 Cleo Mussi, the artist- gardener, is introducing more roses and clematis to the borders, too. At the Pavilion, we are experimenting with bamboo in our new galvanised planters, to try to create some natural shading for the summer months. Nothing much seems to be happening there, yet!

On a Monday when the Museum is closed and it is quiet(er!) the volunteers have chopped firewood, sowed seeds, cleared raised beds, dug in compost, written labels, planted, nursed the echiums, planned plants for the pergola, pruned trees, swept paths, weeded, cleaned the pond, moved plants with Cleo's guidance, divided them- and on Tuesdays, potted up some Walled Garden cuttings to offer for sale at the Friends stall at The Shed (“Volunteers' HQ”!) . Not forgetting time for tea and biscuits, of course.

What's next? The cheery yellow Spring bank with primroses and narcissi will fade soon, as will the bright white flowers of Magnolia Stellata on the top White Border... The hedgerow is green now, thetulips are in flower - and, look at the irises! They are just waiting to explode into bloom! I think this third summer, the Garden will look spectacular. We hope that visitors will take time to relax and breathe in the Garden, and enjoy it as much as we do.

Autumn/Winter 2018

Walled Garden volunteers update, prepared by Ann Taylor.

As I write this 'Walled Garden report', there's glorious colour in the Park. The Walled Garden is beautiful, and its setting in the park, with mature trees all around, makes it all the more special. No wonder the Garden is attracting inquiries as a wedding venue or christening party. Visitors appreciate the atmosphere in the Garden, which is also an inspiration for artists' and poets' workshops, and children's trails.

 Asters (Michaelmas daisies to me as I am still learning the 'proper' names of some of the plants) have given the Garden borders an autumn lift, the tall white flowers at the Pavilion pathway, magenta-pink in the Bonkers border, and various shades of purples elsewhere.

This year, Cleo Mussi chose chrysanthemums to add to the colours, from a specialist grower, Norwells of Nottingham. The plants have done very well, in spite of summer heat when they arrived as tiny shoots in need of water, and rescued by Caroline (Garden volunteer). The 'chrysanths' (see photo), mostly in the Bonkers border, have staggered flowering times: some are almost over now, while others are still in bud.  Cleo also added interest to the more shady slope below the hedge. There are the bright red stems of Cornus, which we'll leave for one more year's growth and then maintain at that height, plus several hydrangeas, red- leafed in the autumn, and the red stalks of the euphorbias. The sudden cold at the end of October flattened one or two plants overnight, but we've salvaged the stalks of the persicaria, also bright red.

In the raised beds, the purple sprouting broccoli and red cabbage are looking healthy, and we've managed a crop of summer salad vegetables too. There's always advice and interest from visitors about this part of the Garden - an important feature of the planting as it harks back to the original purpose of the garden.  The sweet peas along the pergola are an attraction too; several elderly visitors have said that the fragrance reminds them of past times. Caroline and I have both presented these visitors with a little posy as a gift.

We've had apples and plums in abundance this year - and recently, the Garden was the venue for Apple Day, a community event with Stroud Valleys Project. ' The Boys' : Geoff, John, Dave and Rob, have begun chopping kindling again. They've also carried out essential maintenance work on the gates and benches ready for the winter season. Geoff has made a new compost bin for food waste. We were offered a quince and fig tree by resident of Uplands, which proved an adventure, as the trees were large, and we had to send for reinforcements to get them back to the Garden! But both trees have survived.

Caroline's been very busy all summer, carefully and patiently collecting seed heads and with the assistance of Museum staff these are on sale in the Museum shop. Meanwhile, Marion has created a very smart ' plant holding area', preparing cuttings to offer for sale at the Shed stall.

We've been given a special iris, Iris unguicularis Walter Butt, which flowers in the winter (we hope). Walter Butt was a local plant collector who lived at Hyde Lodge at Chalford. We have more to tell of his work - look out for this in January.