A chat with our Garden Manager at Biddulph Grange Garden

Paul Walton, Garden Manager, standing on the Glen bridge

Our Gardening Manager, Paul Walton, heads up the team that cares for our extensive gardens. We got the low-down on his job and plans for the future of the garden.

Can you describe your job?

Busy! I’m overseeing the day-to-day running of the garden and I’m also the Health and Safety Champion for the property, ensuring everyone’s safe whilst they’re here.
We’ve got a great team across all departments and wonderful garden volunteers. Although I now spend more time in the office, I’m lucky to have such a dedicated gardening team who, with the help of the volunteers, keep the garden looking beautiful.
I love working alongside the volunteers; they get a perfect balance between getting the job done whilst enjoying a sociable day. It’s like working alongside friends and family.

What are the most challenging and the most enjoyable parts of your role?

The most challenging thing about our garden is the difficulty of access. Gardeners and volunteers have to be physically strong and work as a team because all tools and machinery are carried into the garden and all waste is carried back out.
The most enjoyable thing is seeing long term plans coming to fruition. When Wellingtonia Avenue was restored, mature trees either side of the path were removed, the area re-graded, drains installed, new paths laid and finally, new trees planted.
The young saplings I helped to plant in 1996 are now so big we’ve removed the nurse crop of cedars from between them. The Avenue is completed and we’ve installed a new Woodland Walk alongside it, full of active play for families and children (of all ages) to enjoy.

Tell us about your plans for the next year

It’s over 20 years since the initial restoration so next year we intend to start looking at each individual area and ensuring that it’s planted to the 1864 plan, replacing lost or missing plants.
Gardening’s a bit like painting the Forth Bridge. We’re going to open 364 days so we need to make sure the property can handle the increase in visitors.

What's the most exciting project you’ve worked on since working for the National Trust?

I worked at the garden at a time when developers were attempting to build three storey houses adjacent to the property boundary, literally overlooking the Cherry Orchard.
We were all excited the day the plans changed, moving the houses back and giving us access to the Geological Gallery – quite important as it’s the only one of its kind in the world.