Behind the scenes

Simon Akeroyd, Garden & Country Manager

Simon is a recognised expert in gardening and conservation © National Trust

Simon is a recognised expert in gardening and conservation

My earliest garden memory was planting potato tubers with my Dad in our veg patch. After Uni I worked in the fruit and trials department at RHS Wisley, a passion for gardening has remained with me ever since.

I love the Katsura tree (Cercidiphyllum japconicum), it smells like burnt sugar or candy floss. Flowering dogwood (Cornus kousa) is perfect for every season with white flower-bracts in spring, delicious fruit in late summer, beautiful autumn foliage and an ornamental trunk.

My garden tip if you have slugs - surround plants with crushed shells/grit or make a Comfrey pile then remove them by hand. Encourage natural predators, hedgehogs and toads. Don’t use beer traps…it does work, but it’s such a waste of beer!

Grow something for every season and enjoy your garden. Gardens aren’t just for plants, attract wildlife with bird boxes, beehives and hedgehog homes.

Tim Parker, Head Gardener

Tim heads up our experienced garden team © Eddie Hyde

Tim heads up our experienced garden team

I got my lucky break as Assistant Gardener at Claremont Landscape Gardens nine years ago. I'd advise anyone who wants to get into gardening to volunteer at as many places as possible and then get a qualification.

I love the views from Polesden and of course our lovely rose garden. My favourite flower is the hawkshead fuchsia, but I'm also a big fan of the raw rugged oak.

A home gardening tip - always look after your soil; get that right and everything else is easy.

Chris Gaskin, Gardener

Chris "Mr Winter Garden" Gaskin © Eddie Hyde

Chris "Mr Winter Garden" Gaskin

As a child we had a quarter of an acre of garden and my grandad taught me a lot about gardening. I learnt how to take soft-tip cuttings and to sow seeds. If you want to get into gardening my advice is to find a course at your local horticultural college.

I love the winter garden at Polesden. I planted lots of bulbs, added lots of aconites; when it's flowering, it looks fantastic. My favourite plant is the bat plant.

A home gardening tip - when growing tomatoes in a greenhouse, remove the side shoots and only take off the leaves up to the truss you want to ripen.

Kate Robinson, Gardener

Kate keeps our gardens looking their best © National Trust

Kate keeps our gardens looking their best

My first gardening work for the National Trust was at Blickling Hall in Norfolk. If you want to get a gardening job I suggest you get some good training and volunteer with the National Trust.

I love our winter garden, especially the snowdrops. Last year I identified over 20 varieties here. I also enjoy working in the kitchen garden and seeing all the hard work pay off in the form of beautiful fruit and vegetables.

A home gardening tip - even in a small garden you can grow vegetables. A courgette plant, dwarf french beans and some salad plants won't take up too much space.

Chloƫ Ferrier, Gardener

Chloe always changes her sunglasses to match the flowers © Eddie Hyde

Chloe always changes her sunglasses to match the flowers

I always enjoyed working in my parents' garden. I was in fashion retail but wanted something new that was just as creative. It was film make-up or horticulture and the plants won! If you want to get into gardening, my advice is to work your way up from the bottom and never be afraid to ask questions because gardeners are always learning.

I love the variety in the Polesden gardens. There's always something new to enjoy all year round. My favourite flower is the toad lily. When planning your garden check the view from each room in turn then design and plant accordingly. White plants will ‘glow’ in moonlight and take on a completely different look.

Christina Clowser, Gardener

Christina works hard both in the gardens and on the estate © Eddie Hyde

Christina works hard both in the gardens and on the estate

I work both within the gardens and out on the wider estate – a mix of gardening and countryside management. I found my 6-month internship with the Countryside team invaluable after my degree. I would say practical experience is key to getting any position and the National Trust offers so many different opportunities for volunteers.

My favourite area of the gardens has to be the winter garden, designed by Graham Stuart Thomas and thought to be the only example left in existence. I was really blown away by the beauty and colour in this area of the garden. I love so many flowers and plants - today the common poppy, tomorrow something else!

I have been very lucky to listen, watch and learn first hand from the excellent garden team here at Polesden.

Rosie Fyles, Gardener

Rosie, one of the newest members of our garden team © Eddie Hyde

Rosie, one of the newest members of our garden team

My Uncle Ern encouraged me to start gardening by sowing flower seeds and growing pelargoniums. I came back to gardening after time spent in graphic design, corporate communications and company management. Gardening takes time... To get into gardening, become a National Trust volunteer - and qualifications do matter.

I love the way the gardens here fit perfectly into the surrounding hills and how so many people (and their dogs) enjoy them. My favourite plant is the onion, multi-layered yet really simple to grow and essential in the kitchen. The quickest way to make your garden look much better is to edge the lawn.

Top tips for a greener life

Simon is our Garden and Countryside Manager, but also finds the time to write his own blog on growing and cooking food...

Greener gardening

Dig in and get gardening with one of our National Trust spades

At Polesden the team try  to be ‘green gardeners’ and avoid products that harm the environment. We use garlic as a fungicide when planting roses instead of harsh chemicals.

Volunteer thanks

We have over 100 volunteers who give their skills and time to make our gardens look the way they do, from garden tour guides to cut flower arrangers and a handyman team to restore the frames.

Hidden secrets...

Lovely Edwardian desk used by the Head Gardener

This lovely Edwardian oak desk was used by our last Head Gardener and is currently being inventoried to see what secrets it hides...

 

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