On a lovely sunny day there is something very satisfying, almost spiritual, in spending a few hours in the peace of Hartlebury Castle’s carriage circle getting the gardens back to something approaching their former glory. I regularly get glimpses of what it must have been like in its heyday… take the fabulous fig tree liberated from a mixture of bramble, honeysuckle and ivy which was bravely trying to fruit in spite of its awful entanglement. A few weeks on and it looks healthy and is putting on fresh growth, becoming a magnificent specimen again.
Every time I spend a couple of hours working on the grounds with my fellow volunteer I can really see what we have achieved. The terrace only needed to have the weeds removed from between the slabs but, although it took a full day to complete, even after a short time we were able to look with satisfaction at progress made.
Much of the work to date has involved removing pernicious weeds which are determined to swamp whatever was originally planted, but it is not all about hacking back… once cleared the gardens just need a bit of TLC to maintain the progress that has been made. The carriage circle now only requires an occasional visit with a hoe to keep it tidy, but the more volunteers who get involved the less time it takes.
Clearly, volunteers are not going to be able to do some of the really heavy work removing self seeded trees, cutting back badly overgrown trees or hacking our way through the bamboo, professional support will need to be bought in, but there is a great deal of preparatory work that is quite achievable by volunteers.
Volunteering is not just about getting the work done! There are new acquaintances to be made who add new dimensions to your life. There is relaxation to be found among the delights of the cafe… fab fruit cake and excellent vegetable soup! There is fun to be had and no one cracks the whip! It’s a labour of love on which I love to labour!
If volunteering as a gardener appeals then don’t wait to get in touch. Join Us! There is a huge amount to be done but don’t be daunted by the enormity of the task. Whatever time you can give is appreciated and valuable to the maintenance of our shared heritage.
Jane, enthusiastic garden volunteer