• People in Helmsley Walled Garden

December 2016 – Not much to do in winter?

Eric and Mike digging
Eric and Mike digging

‘Ah the doors are closed, it’ll be a quiet time for you in the garden now, not much to do’ is a comment I receive almost daily but nothing could be further from the truth. So here is a typical winter week in the garden.

Eric, our 70+ year old garden volunteer  is busy primary digging the cottage garden. I join him as often as I can but it will take us another month to complete the work. We want to finish before the hard weather comes and we can allow the frost to break up the clods for us. When the weather is bad we are reducing the height of the hedges.  Amanda has completed the pruning of the cherries, turning her attention to our loganberries next before dealing with the gooseberries and blackcurrants. Ann, Susanne, Helen, Sarah, Clare and Valma are busy working their way down our Long Border cutting back last year’s growth and removing weeds. They’re followed by Tricia reducing the size of some of the perennial clumps: we want to create space to put in some new plants including a Korean Spindleberry mentioned in last month article.

Michele, Joy, Grace, John and Peter are cutting back the Cut Flower border, gathering seed from the sweet peas to save for next year.  Tristan is collecting all the cut material in his trolley to take away and compost. Heather and Fiona T. are researching herbs to grow and sell next year. In the morning we placed the order for 100+ bags of compost, moss and wreath rings for Christmas. They arrive within four hours and have to be unloaded from the lorry. Fiona H. is guiding our students from Welburn Hall school around the garden collecting the windfall apples. Erica has collected apples from the trees and joined by Pat and Sam, washing and preparing  the apples for juicing. Juicing takes two days a week for about two months.

Now the first frost has arrived Helen is lifting and storing the dahlias ready for next year. Belinda who pauses from steam cleaning the toilets has ventured into Duncombe Park as our cat Molly has been missing for a week. She finds her so I dash out with the basket and my van to collect them both. Molly is cold, wet and hungry: everyone fusses her and we bed her down in a greenhouse for a long sleep. Steve and Richard have stripped the café toilets down: we are replacing all the mechanisms and decorating throughout. Ann has boxed up all the files in our office as we prepare to decorate. Tricia is working her way through the group bookings which are now coming in fast. She escapes every now and then to finish weeding in the fruit tree nursery bed. The trustee meeting has just concluded and we have agreed a new 30 year lease with the estate and the need to create a new business plan. I’ve just found insurance cover that allows us to do all the above activities. Not much to do in winter? I think not.

Mike I’Anson December 2016