General Update

First written and posted on 21st October, 2013. Please click here if you would like to read the original post on This and That.

It’s been a while since my last post, life has been great but really hectic – this is the first day in a month where I’ve had time to catch up on my normal routine, like washing, sleeping and writing! I had a seminar to attend at the start of the month, the Professional Gardeners’ Guild hold one every year for their trainees and for students on the Historical and Botanic Garden Bursary scheme – HBGBS for short!

A gorgeous herbaceous border on one of the garden tours

It’s a chance for us to meet everyone else on the traineeship schemes, there were sixteen PGGs and twenty four HBGBSs so lots of mingling involved. The joint seminar was held in Sussex at a wonderful place called Dunford House, which is often used for conferences. It’s pretty much in the middle of nowhere, with lovely lawns and an arboretum surrounding the house. I was more interested in the grounds than anything else!

Dunford House

As well as meeting the other trainees we had a packed three day schedule which included: tours round private gardens, a talk from the glasshouse makers Alitex and a guided tour of their factory, taxonomy classes, talks and advice on how to make yourself more employable after leaving our different traineeship schemes and a “Plant of Interest” session – we all had to bring in a plant at our workplace which we found interesting, and stand in front of everyone and talk about it for five minutes. No pressure at all then!!

An Alitex glasshouse!

I chose Geranium maderense which is a gorgeous geranium that is endemic to the island of Madeira. It’s on the IUCN Red List (International Union for Conservation of Nature) as critically endangered, as its habitat is declining due to urbanisation. It’s one of my favourite geraniums because of its vivid pink flowers and shape of the overall plant – it can grow up to three feet tall and adds great structure to any border. It was in the biomes at Eden and is at Ashridge too, another reason why I love it so much!

Geranium maderense

Last weekend I went home for the first time since I started my new job, it was lovely to go back and see my family and friends, even if it was just for the weekend. I saw my best friend who recently gave birth to a beautiful baby boy, Oscar Riley Frederick Ormand. He is the cutest little thing in the world, I am so lucky to be his godmother! I watched Strictly Come Dancing with my mum, it was great to chat about the different celebrities, a proper mum and daughter gossip. 🙂 My kittykats were very pleased to see me, and don’t look any the worse for having me as an absent mother – bless them!

My best friend with her baby!

Work has been incredibly manic too, October is the time of year when there is a big bedding switch over – annual plants that are put in for summer colour like Antirrhinums (snapdragons), Helianthus (sunflowers), CosmosTagetes (marigolds) and many more are ripped out and replaced with winter ones like ViolasErysimum (wallflowers), Myosotis (forget-me-nots) Bellis (daisies) and Primulas (polyanthus, primroses).

The Fernery Garden bed, before planting

Before that huge changeover we were busy under-planting the beds with bulbs like Tulipa (tulips), Hyacinthus (hyacinths), Fritillarias (fritillary), Narcissus (daffodils), and Alliums, which will appear in spring. Overall we planted eight thousand bulbs and thirty six thousand bedding plants in two weeks, not bad going for a team of nine!

The Fernery Garden, all planted!

Some areas at Ashridge took a few days to complete, like the Terrace which overlooks the main lawn and the Monks’ Garden which has four large armorial beds. My favourite area to plant up has to be the Fernery Garden, because of the way we did it. For all the other beds we had done random planting, simply scattering the plants evenly over the soil and consolidating them compactly.

The Terrace, yet to be planted

However the Fernery is a circular bed so we marked out five rings and planted from the inside out, using all of the five winter bedding plants I mentioned earlier. I can’t wait to see the whole place in spring, everywhere is going to be alive with colour – you will be the first to see the photos!

The Terrace, all planted!

Just to add to my exciting month I received some fantastic news yesterday – at the end of September I applied for funding so I could start studying an RHS course and to my delight my application was accepted! In February I start the RHS Level 2 Certificate in Practical Horticulture, which is a part time course that I study one day a week at college. As well as learning the basic practical horticultural skills there will be plant identification tests too, and assessments in all elements at the end of the course. I’m really looking forward to it, as well as having the Professional Gardeners’ Guild Diploma I will also have an RHS qualification to add to the list!

Me planting bulbs in the Monks' Garden!

That’s all my news for now, I will update you all again soon. Until then happy writing! 🙂

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