Tuesday, 5 July 2016

Allium christophii.
May and June are relentless months for the gardener with dusty July forcing an extra gear and an even quicker turn of speed. Some one once said "you've got to move quick to stay in the same place" and it's no more appropriate than at this time of year in the garden. Gardeners with a few years under their belts could recognise these sentiments as well as knowing that each year throws up challenges different to that of the previous one. These last few weeks of June, with their rain, has added to our labours as we strive to keep the roses looking good (lots of rain on lots of petals makes mush!) as well as battling legions of slugs and snails.
The rain has made this year a good year for Astrantias, seen here on the Winter Walk with Geranium nodosum and an ancient Gooseberry.
After several seasons at Barnsley House, every year has been unique with both the first and last making me realise just how little I know. Head Gardener to Charles Verey was as unique a position as Head Gardener to my present employers, each offering challenges, satisfaction and the incidental opportunities to learn new skills that in turn afforded me career and personal development.

I came to Barnsley House having been 'blooded' by labouring in nurseries, a Nottinghamshire tree gang and being paid 'piece rate' the more trees you did the more you got paid (health and safety!) tree surgery in Frankfurt. I also had a wonderful three and a half year's in Fife and a year in an office in Dundee! All elements of my pre Barnsley House career; although unknowingly at the time, were useful preparation for the varied and ever-changing scenarios that have presented themselves to me as a Barnsley House gardener.

Despite this varied experience; arriving at Barnsley House was like the first day at a new school and no less daunting..."I was set down by the carrier's cart at the age of three (in my case thirty three) and there with a sense of bewilderment and terror my life in the village began" (Lee, L. 1959). New jobs, new challenges, new experiences can be petrifying; but for my father (a quietly competative individual) failure was all part of the learning process; it was always more important to have a go, take what you can from the experience and use this at the next attempt. Barnsley is a unique place, I can be bent double in the borders, looking at spread sheets in a management meeting or conducting a guided tour; my first guided tour was less than a year after the death of Mrs. Verey, no pressure! To be part of the team looking after the special garden that is Barnsley House, also now famous for being a highly desirable hotel, requires flexibility and a willingness to have a go. In the words of Samuel Beckett....

"Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better."

Iris foetidissima under the Limes, veined flowers followed by bright orange seeds; also an impressive crown of dark green leaves that will look good through the worst of winters. A good self seeder.

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