There was much celebration on my part when I got the news that I was coming off furlough early. I came back to work in early June because of the enormous generosity of everyone who donated to #OurSecretGarden appeal to raise £50,000 to help secure Helmsley Walled Garden from closure.
We are within £1,000 of our target and it has been a roller coaster of emotions watching the total go up. Pride that so many people know the garden and excitement in the knowledge that the garden would survive this difficult and turbulent time.
The thing that struck me most, was how much the garden meant to people and how closure was not to be contemplated. I was reduced to tears many times by reading the kind and supportive messages that accompanied people’s donations.
Coronavirus has caused so much distress and heartache: physical, mental, emotional, financial. Yet so many (from all over the UK and indeed the world) thought it important to support one small garden in North Yorkshire. It’s been truly humbling and encourages all of us here to strive to make the garden a place where people can find rest and tranquillity, and to support those who need our help at difficult times in their life.
But as you well know, no garden stands still and although June and Tony had been doing sterling work in trying to keep on top on things, two people cannot keep five acres in tip top condition.
Some areas are looking the worse for wear and will need quite a lot of work to pull them back. But it’s good to see how much is looking good. The Kitchen Garden, The White Garden, The Physic Garden and the Garden of Contemplation amongst others are all blooming.
The areas I’m concentrating on are the Hot Border and Alison’s Garden. I put the last of the dahlias into the Hot Border in mid-June and continue to clear weeds and lift and replant some of plants into different areas. This was a bit tricky in the really hot weather. But after the welcome rain everything, particularly the dahlias have gone off like rockets.
I’m falling back in love with Alchemila mollis (Lady’s Mantle) after being thoroughly fed up with it and it’s because I have a plan. A striking plant with hairy leaves that hold the rain on their surface like little diamonds and masses of frothy acid yellow flowers. But they self-seed everywhere and pop up where you don’t want them and it’s been driving me mad. Now I am on a mission to dig them up wherever they don’t belong and move them to a couple of areas around the garden.
One is at the back of the Laburnum and Rose arches, another the edge of Alison’s Garden. My favourite is the big planting in the Hot Border by the Dipping Pond. This is where A. mollis really comes into its own as a mass of colour and fizzing flower heads. It’ll make a brilliant foil to all the dahlias we’ve put into the beds around the pond.
We are working towards reopening by 1st August. It’s likely we will start by opening Friday to Sunday and then slowly expand our opening hours.
I’ll be updating our website to let you all know everything that’s happening and I know our friends at the Gazette will keep you informed as well.
Finally, I do want to make a shameless plug for The Gazette and Herald; their support during the time we have been closed has been incredible. It’s good to be able to say thank you to them and to you. Hopefully see you soon.
Tricia Harris July 2020