Adventures in planting
Over the last year, our project manager, Mike Owers and the garden team alongside our dedicated volunteers have worked tirelessly in all weathers and are already ahead of schedule. After a wet winter of carting over 120 wheelbarrows of concrete, months of groundwork, installing 76 posts and 600 metres of metal edging, the ancient walled garden is starting to take stunning shape.
With the infrastructure and layout complete and the newly re-glazed greenhouses glinting in the sun, the walled garden is now welcoming the stars of the show: the heritage fruit trees, soft fruit and herbaceous plants, heralding a new phase in the walled garden’s re-awakening.
" At last myself and the team can stop being builders and start being gardeners again. There is a lot of gardening to be done over the coming weeks and years!"
Over 150 East Anglian heritage fruit trees including over 60 varieties of apple and 20 varieties of pear , cherry and plum all need planting and training into cordons, espaliers and fans. Then there are the soft fruit varieties of redcurrants, gooseberries, blackcurrants, loganberries, tayberries, blackberries, raspberries and strawberries. It will make for a mouth-watering array to delight visitors over the coming years.
With all this work to be done, the team need more help and this has come from a newly recruited group of ten garden volunteers starting at the beginning of April and Mike is looking forward to welcoming them: "The volunteers are such a key part of the project and by building on our existing team we will be able to tackle even more in the garden".
Thanks to the very generous £12,000 grant from the Geoffrey Watling Trust, the volunteers will be able to enjoy a well-deserved cup of tea in the newly restored ‘Bothy’ room which has a brand new roof, kitchen, flooring and furniture. Part of this bothy will also be a garden shop where visitors can treat themselves to some of the walled garden’s produce and also raise funds to help share this project with local schools and younger visitors.
In its heyday of the late 19th Century, the walled garden covered over four acres and would have supplied the entire household with cut flowers, fruit and vegetables including the very exotic and desirable pineapple. In fact one of the varieties of dessert apple, ‘Caroline’ was cultivated here at Blickling in 1882 and was named after the wife of the owner of the estate, Caroline Hobart. After all these years, ‘Caroline’ has returned home and was the first tree planted in the walled garden by the General Manager, Helen Bailey.
Visitors can now wander round and see this amazing project unfolding before their eyes, choose their very own piece of the walled garden to take home from the produce stall or find a hidden gem in the second-hand bookshop which has already raised an incredible £100,000 for the project.
So next time you visit Blickling, make sure you pop into the walled garden, and if you come at the right time of year, you might even be lucky enough to sample some of the beautiful new fruit!