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.