Thirty-one years as Head Gardener at The Weir
There are mixed emotions at The Weir Garden as Ned Price, gardener for thirty-one years hangs up his gardening gloves for the final time, ready to enjoy his early retirement.
Ned had an incredibly varied upbringing before his time at The Weir Garden. His father was in the army which saw his family move to Germany, Belgium, Cyprus, Egypt and Wales all by Ned’s sixteenth birthday.
As a ten year old and whilst living in Colwyn Bay, Ned developed a love for wildlife and would spent hours wondering the hills and woods searching for butterflies, mini-beasts and mammals.
As a young man Ned worked abroad, moving from country to country from job to job either as a labourer, factory worker or indeed anything that would earn a decent wage. This lifestyle led him to live in India, Holland, Germany, Greece and Afghanistan before settling down to have a family in Britain. It was only in his late twenties, he realised what he truly wanted to do;his ideal would be to become a gardener, and spend more time outdoors with the wildlife he was so drawn to.
This is where Ned’s story at The Weir begins, in 1987, after two years working under the Head Gardener Jimmy Hancock at Powis Castle; Ned sealed the deal of becoming the first gardener in charge at The Weir.
" Jimmy asked what the garden was like, there wasn’t really one but The Weir’s a beautiful place and that’s what draws me in-the river, the woods, the wildlife…"
Ned’s work was well and truly cut out. The gardens were very overgrown when he arrived but he did notice the exceptional variety of flora; in one square yard there were Buttercups, Campanulas, Brunnera, Primula, Violets, Dog’s Murcury, Mousetails and rare Ferns. He also noticed the wildlife these wildflowers drew in. He decided to plan the garden around the surrounding nature and decided to give the garden the TLC it so badly needed but keeping a large amount wild, allowing nature to thrive. A large project Ned was majorly involved in was the restoration of the Walled Garden which took place over several years and was only achievable with the help of Ned’s amazing team of volunteers.
" When you turn on the television, you hear all about things becoming extinct, but since I’ve come to The Weir everything’s coming back’ "
Ned’s efforts were not in vain as before long the garden started hosting an abundance of wildlife including Buzzards, Red Kites, Ravens and even Otters. Birds and butterflies that had not been seen in the garden before started appearing too. The garden became more successful and over Ned’s watch the garden had amazingly grown from four thousand visitors a year to forty thousand in more recent years.
At the time, many visitors commented on the natural approach, how it was so unlike other formal gardens and how it challenged the original vision of Roger’s Parr’s riverside garden, which was preened to perfection. However, although not a smug man, Ned can’t help but smile as twenty-five years later this is actually the latest horticultural fashion.
Ned was also thrilled to be featured in a 'Head Gardeners' book in 2017 which is available to purchase at The Weir Garden.
Thirty-one years later and Ned feels now is the right time to leave The Weir Garden and although stated he would happily stay another decade he is now ready for a quieter pace of life, spending more time with his family. He has seen the garden grow from strength to strength and feels it is now time to move on after feeling the kind of job satisfaction only few people are lucky enough to experience. Ned has promised he will still pop in from time to time, keeping an eye on the gardens and staff and of course catching up with the life-long friends he has made here at The Weir Garden.
Thank you Ned for all you hard work and creativity.