The season has very quickly shifted from winter, marked by the clocks going forward the Walled gardens are again open to the public. It's Easter of course and as school is out for a few weeks the gardens are alive with the sound of children, there is a marked contrast from the slumber of just a few weeks ago and fittingly the place feels alive again. The Walled gardens are hosting a range of exciting activities including, face painting, story telling, an Easter trail and a "decorate your own tile" activity which collectively forms the verses of Holkhams' very own version of 'English Country Garden'
During the closed months we have been very busy building the last part of the garden, the picture below features the extension of our productive area built by our gardeners, this extra space will allow us to produce much more in terms of soft fruit such as Raspberries, Strawberries and Currants.
However this was not the only building work taking place, our new Education Centre is very nearly ready and a grand reveal shall follow on this blog in the next few weeks. We are very happy with the (nearly) finished article particularly as it was built with estate sourced wood. The build was lead by one of our hard working volunteers but fulfilled with the help of a diverse range of people, including gardeners, volunteers, our Chief Education Officer and i may have even seen the Head of Landscapes hammer a nail or two in.
The gardens are starting to perform, this Ribes and Chaenomeles offer an immaculate vernal treat and precede the emergence of leaves on the deciduous shrubs and trees, i like to think of the swelling buds as natures flat packed solar panels which once unfurled will fuel flower and fruit.
The Veg patch is starting to fill up with Peas, Broad Beans and Asparagus all now planted out alongside direct sowings of Beetroot, Carrots and Parsnips. The next few days will see our chitted early potatoes planted in 6" deep trenches lined with compost. Elsewhere in the garden we have been pruning last years now dead flower heads from our Hydrangeas, taking Dahlia cuttings and even mowing the grass (on a high cut).
As the years first consignments of cut flower and foliage are taken to the Hall we are reminded to sow Hardy and Half Hardy annuals indoors, this will help offer a diverse range or colour and form for our florists in the months to come. eg. Sweet Peas, Sunflowers, Cosmos, Cerinthe, Ammi.
As is customary i save the very best news till last.
I started working at Holkham 2 years ago and during this entire period I have been aware of much preparation, planning, research and really hard work (by people much smarter than I) to hatch a plan. While the gardens are being rescued there has been hope that we could also pull our derelict glasshouses out of their current state of bad repair, improve the customer facilities and create a purpose built Education Centre to help us engage with the local community and youngsters. We are very pleased to announce that we were recently granted stage one funding by the Heritage Lottery Fund. This means our proposal has jumped the first hurdle and very much gives us cause for optimism in our hope to achieve stage two and realise our dream. There could be very exciting times ahead.