Meet the team
It is now three weeks since we, the garden volunteers, were able to work in the Orangery gardens and we are missing the Spring awakening. There is a core of three garden volunteers who spend around 18 hours a week in the gardens between us with two or three others who come and help as and when they have time. Although we get together as a team to discuss future plans we mostly have responsibility for our own areas. Chris keeps the lawn looking wonderful along with the grass edges down the Long Walk and other grass areas. He also keeps an eye on the orange and lemon trees in the Orangery and he has become our expert on ‘dead hedges’. We have just discovered dead hedges following some advice from our friends at National Trust Shugborough. They are wonderful for screening off areas and as a place to put branches and brash. They make really good homes for insects and small animals to hide and nest. Then there is John who cuts the hedges, prunes the trees and carries out any building work and other maintenance jobs we have. I weed and look after the flower beds with the help of Judith. Tony helps keep the brash under control and anything else we need help with along with Andy.
A labour of love
It is amazing to look at the site now and think how it was when the Friends of Ingestre Orangery took it over. You couldn’t see the Orangery or the Long Walk for the weeds and brambles that obliterated them. It was an adventure uncovering it all and it is hard to believe now how it was then. Apart from the trees, all the plants now in the gardens have been donated and split to fill the flower beds – no garden plan, just plant what the garden volunteers were given and look at it now!
Right now in the gardens the two big cherry trees at the end of the lawn are in full blossom and looking spectacular and as is the one on the Long Walk. The rhododendrons are coming into bloom – there is an especially lovely pink one. The top of the Long walk is covered in forget-me-nots and the acers on either side of the middle steps are looking lovely with their beautiful new red leaves. There is a yellow daisy type plant – Leopard’s Bane or Doronicum – which is in full bloom and bringing some sunshine to the garden. The Rheum is just unfurling its ‘spike’ and is going to be spectacular. Most of our trees are evergreen but the deciduous ones are beginning to come into leaf – in fact, the whole garden is waking up and putting on its summer clothes!
Plans for the future
What plans for the future? We decided to grass over the middle bed in the lawn which we did just before lockdown. It is not looking too good at the moment thanks to the pheasant and the lack of rain. Hopefully this will improve once we are able to water the area. We are developing the new flower beds by the entrance to the new building at the back of the Orangery and hope, eventually, plan to tidy up the area at the back of the pod. The woodland walk is coming along well and we will improve it as time goes on. In the future, we hope to grass over the ‘mound’ area at the entrance to the property planting some fruit trees and have some seating and also open up the area beyond the Orangery into a sensory garden though this is presently blocked off. There’s always plenty to do!
The garden volunteers all miss their time at the Orangery. It is so quiet and peaceful with lots of bird life and a host of very busy grey squirrels. Let’s hope it is not too long before we are able to get back to work and everyone can, once again, enjoy the peace and tranquillity of the Orangery and its grounds.