Welcome to the first blog from the Grounds and Garden team here at Ashburnham Place. I would like to introduce you to the team.
Gordon has worked at Ashburnham 17 years (a few months longer than Jim!), he can often be spotted driving the tractor, mowing the rides around the lakes, cutting hedges and looking after the wilder bits of Ashburnham. He also keeps all the machinery running and tools sharp and creates wonderful hanging baskets and planters using found materials.
Jim has worked at Ashburnham for 17 years and brings a wealth of experience, creativity and horticultural knowledge to the work here. He can usually be found in the Kitchen Garden overseeing the work there, sowing and planting vegetables, looking after the apple orchard and harvesting the crops.
Jay has been working at Ashburnham since March 2014 (this time) although I previously worked on the garden team a few years ago and first came to Ashburnham aged 10 with my church. I can usually be found in the Ornamental Gardens wielding a hoe or a pair of edging shears, trying to keep up with the weeding and planning future planting schemes.
We have two volunteers with us from the Ashburnham team at the moment, Sara from Poland and Rafael from Brazil. The lovely Emily has also been helping us during July while her Father works with the Maintenance Team. We also have a growing group of local volunteers who come in for a few hours every week or every fortnight to lend a hand for which we are extremely grateful!
Together we look after 220 acres of land - the Capability designed lakes and woodlands, the ornamental gardens and the seven acre walled kitchen garden and prayer garden. Our aim is to be good stewards of what we have and to work creatively to maintain and enhance the gardens and grounds.
So that you can imagine what we are all doing as you read this, here are some of the things we have been doing and are planning to do over the coming weeks. Gordon has been mowing the meadow areas and woodland rides, and cutting hedges around the place. Jim has been summer pruning the espaliered apple trees in the Orchard with help from Sara and Emily in between harvesting delicious tomatoes, cucumbers, lettuces and onions.
We have been trying to keep up with weeding in the Walled Garden as well as planning new plantings and events that we have coming up. I have begun the task of pruning the box (Buxus) hedges, starting with the fan beds around the fountain outside the Orangery Tea Room. These ornate beds have been replanted over the last few years, one from cuttings taken by the team, the others with bought in plants. They are establishing well and will bulk up as we keep them closely trimmed, eventually forming neat hedges like the much older one that the wonderful Jo Marriott volunteered to help us with! I have also been taking cuttings from some of our shrubs and perennials.
We hope this blog will, over time, give you an insight into our work, some ideas for your own garden and thoughts to inspire you. We will also let you know about the wildlife that we are privileged to share the grounds and gardens with. This little swallow is part of the second brood that its parents have raised in the Walled Garden. I think he was gathering up the courage to head out into the world!
We would love to hear your thoughts on the grounds and gardens here, we know that they are a special place for many of you. If you are thinking about volunteering with us, do get in touch, we would love to have you on the team! If you come and visit Ashburnham as a residential guest or pop into the Orangery Tea Room, do stop and have a chat with us if you see us working. Also, if you are interested in what you can see in the Grounds and Gardens there are posters up in the Orangery and the Welcome Lounge giving some highlights of what is looking particularly good in the gardens and grounds and where to find it.
Look out on the website for details of our Winter Hanging Basket Workshops taking place on 1st and 4th October. We would love to see you there!
We look forward to seeing you soon,