The Last of Ashridge

It’s been over a month since I wrote my last post about Ashridge, where has the time gone! I had a break from work at the start of August by going home for a ten day holiday – it was lovely to see my family and friends.

I know I say this a lot but I can’t believe how quickly time has sped by. On Friday I will be leaving Ashridge and moving to Carmarthen to start my second year of training at the National Botanic Garden of Wales.

Ashridge House

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Ashridge House and Chapel

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I can’t quite comprehend that tomorrow I will be saying goodbye to my friends, colleagues and of course the beautiful gardens of Ashridge which has been my home for the past year. I’m leaving one amazing place for another but even so it will be sad to leave.

When I think of my horticultural career so far I realise how much diversity I’ve been exposed to by working in gardens that are completely different from each other.

Catalpa bignonioides, near the Fernery Garden

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To me the blooms look a tad like orchid flowers!

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I went from working at my local garden nursery to the Eden Project and a brief time at the Royal Botanic Gardens Kew, to Ashridge. I couldn’t have asked for my first experience of working in a formal garden to have been any better – it’s been a wonderful place where I’ve learnt more than I thought I would, in more ways than I ever imagined!

Lavender beds, near the Dry Garden

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I was reading my work diary the other day and picked out my highlights while I’ve been here – they are:

1. Learning to drive tractors (with trailers!)

2. Restoring part of the arboretum back to its original design of a fruit orchard

3. Creating a new planting plan for an area of the garden and preparing it for planting

4. Being responsible for a herbaceous border, maintaining it independently in my spare time

5. Creating designs for the summer bedding displays

6. Completing the first part of my RHS Level 2 qualification

7. Passing my chainsaw test

It’s only when I look back and read how much I’ve achieved that I feel a genuine sense of satisfaction. It’s easy to forget everything I’ve accomplished in the daily working routine – I can safely say I’m proud of myself! I hope I continue along the same lines when I start my next placement.

I’ve been having a great time enjoying the last few weeks at Ashridge. We’ve been busy giving areas like the Monk’s Garden, Italian Garden, Honeysuckle and the Rosary a good tidy-up – the weeds grow faster than we can get rid of them!

Monks’ Garden

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Aerial shots

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Before weeding. . .

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. . . and after!

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Italian Garden

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Love this delphinium and crocosmia combination

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Before weeding. . .

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. . . and after! 

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Honeysuckle

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Before weeding. . .

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. . . and after!

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I spent a few days on my own doing a serious tidy-up of a border near the Lazell Garden. The weeds had taken over so it was hard to tell what was a weed and what wasn’t!

Herbaceous border near the Lazell Garden

Before weeding. . .

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. . . and after!

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I’ve been having fun using the ride-on rotary mower to mow the grass in and around the Moat and the Orchard. I didn’t crash it which was the main thing!

Guess who’s on the mower!

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The Moat

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An old beech tree on the lawn at the front of Ashridge House came down in high winds last month. It was all hands on deck clearing it from the road!

Fallen tree

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We’re all responsible for an area of the summer bedding by dead-heading the flowers and checking if the pots and hanging baskets need watering every morning. The areas I look after are the Fernery and Fernery Garden and the Lazell courtyard.

Hanging baskets in the Fernery

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Sunflowers in the Fernery Garden

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I’ve really liked being in charge of making sure the plants are looking their best at all times, it’s looking so colourful everywhere round Ashridge at the moment.

Lazell courtyard

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My border is looking pretty good as well, the echinops, scabiosa and crocosmia were gorgeous a few weeks ago – the asters have even started flowering!

My border

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From a distance

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Close-ups

Echinops ritro

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Verbascum 

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Climbing rose

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Crocosmia

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Cosmos

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I’ve been giving the small border in front of my flat some TLC too, by filling it with some leftover summer bedding.

The border in front of my flat

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Me and my colleague Charlotte have been busy for the past few days trying to get more planting done in the Dry Garden. We’ve cleared and planted up two more areas, we won’t get it all finished before I leave but even so I think we’ve done pretty damn well!

Before clearing and planting. . .

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. . . and after!

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At the moment it’s all hands on deck pricking out seedlings of winter bedding – we’ve done hundreds of trays already, only a few hundred more to go!

I hope you’ve enjoyed reading my last Ashridge update as much as I did writing it. 🙂

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13 thoughts on “The Last of Ashridge

  1. What a beautiful print you have left on Ashridge’s landscape! I know you will do as well in your next placement! Lucky me, I get to follow you there. Even though I haven’t been to Wales (yet) it is high on my list. My beloved grandmother was from Cardiff as well as my mother. Someday…

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  2. Wonderful work Becky, I’m sure you’ll be missed. I’ve really enjoyed following you on your journey and I’m really excited to see what you will be doing in Wales. I can imagine you’re feeling very emotional today, so lots of hugs and healing thoughts to you. Lastly well done for producing these beautiful blogs. Lolxxx

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  3. I hope your move goes well and you settle into your new hoe and job quickly. Thank-you for this lovely post – haven’t you been working hard! This weather has been just right for monster weeds!

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  4. You have accomplished so much the past year between studies and sharpening your gardening skills. I’m proud of you Becky! It’s always refreshing to follow your virtual tours through all the beautiful gardens.Thank you dear! 🙂

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  5. Well Becky, you have had a wonderful year, and I have thoroughly enjoyed following you on your exciting journey. Im looking forward to following you into your next year! How long is your training period and what will your qualifications be? Questions questions! Im just curious and interested in your journey. 😊

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