Wednesday, 19 July 2017

A people’s garden

July 2017

Not that it’s any of our doing, but Gibside’s walled garden just gets better and better. Over the last few years, the collapsed wall has been expertly bricklayed back into place, the allotments extended, and the flowerbeds and fruit trees nurtured into splendour. Currently there is a sculptural, living willow maze growing on the grassy area previously occupied by washing lines full of beautifully and wittily stitched and appliqued tea towels. Head gardener, Debbie, and her team have transformed the place into a unique, exquisite gem – a people’s garden.
The Amazing Maze
Such an attraction is the walled garden these days that we seem to have permanently lost at least four of our Wednesday conservation volunteers to it. Some had always worked the winter months with the rangers, and gardened through the growing season, but the new, improved garden now gets year-round attention – and it shows.
Walled garden flowers
Another colourful border

More flowers
Whilst we bloggers spend our summer months seeking out grass snakes and collecting wildlife data, some regular conservation team volunteers take to the lawnmower. There was a time – a period of eight or nine years – when Wednesdays could be relied upon to be fine, sunny days whatever the season, but no more. It’s just as likely to rain on a Wednesday as on any other day of the week – and it does. The grass cutters, though, are still out there come rain… come rain.

John cutting the grass in the rain
You might think that pushing a lawnmower all day to be a tedious, torturous pursuit in any weather, but seemingly not. Apparently it induces relaxation – variously through daydreaming, or a state akin to meditation. Our nature study meanderings are a bit like that as well.
Common centaury

Poppy seed head
Shaggy inkcaps

Soldier beetles and a longhorn beetle on an angelica flower head
Small skipper butterfly

Steve Wootten and Phil Coyne