Tag: gardener

The Strawberry Tree

  The Strawberry Tree (Arbutus unedo) is a easy tree or shrub to identify, having both flowers and fruit present at the same time. The strawberry (or I think more like lychee) like fruit take up to a year to ripen, so as last year’s fruits turn red, the flowers that will form next year’s fruit start to appear. The fruit is said to be edible, although not very tasty, which may be hinted at in it’s Latin name ‘unedo‘; coming from unum edo ‘I eat one’ – meaning after you have eaten one you wouldn’t want another one? Having not yet tried one I couldn’t say! Which is good news for the birds, leaving plenty of fruit for them to feast on during the colder months.

A member of the Ericaceae family of plants, most commonly known as heather, the flowers bear a strong resemblance to those of heathers, with bell-like downward facing flowers in small clusters.

You may have also seen this plant in a well known Morris & Co. design, used in fabrics and wallpapers where you can clearly see the red fruits and white flowers.

Have a wander down to the Lower Wilderness to have a closer look at these interesting plants.

 

 

 

 

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Work with us…Lead Gardener wanted

A rare opportunity has arisen.  Can you help manage and grow this magnificent historic Garden?

We are looking for a full time, experienced and qualified Lead Gardener to manage the Gardens alongside our volunteers and to play an active role in making the visitor experience of our 10 acre site the best in the city – and beyond!

See below for details and attached is a shareable document. Please circulate to those you think may relish this role (closing date 15th December).

A rare opportunity to look after a unique and well-loved historic garden nestled in the middle of a city landscape.

The 10 acres of historic formal gardens – with wilder wildlife areas – is owned and run by a small independent charitable trust and staffed mainly by volunteers.

The Trust is going through a period of change and development in order to ensure the long-term future of the Gardens.

We are looking for a full-time Gardener who can take a lead role in maintaining the standards of the 18th century styled Gardens and work positively with the Trust to ensure the success of its growing visitor engagement programmes and other charitable business developments.

You will be a qualified gardener (RHS level3 or equivalent vocational experience) with existing, and proven, management and budgeting experience.

As well as having hands-on horticultural and grounds maintenance skills, your experience will also include working with a diverse volunteer workforce.

Terms

Salary: £19,500 – £22,000 commensurate with experience

Hours: based on 37.5 hours per week

Ability & willingness to work certain weekends; bank holidays & event days essential

This is a permanent contract, on completion of a satisfactory probation period.

 Purpose and scope of the role.

You will be responsible, in partnership with the Trust’s other staff, for the overall management and development of the Gardens, ensuring the highest standards of horticulture and visitor experience.

  • You will supervise, mentor ‘junior’ staff, foster good relations with contractors and manage our varied community of volunteers, fostering a culture of good teamwork.
  • Volunteers in the gardens currently range across all abilities and time commitments. Some are solely project based, temporary, have additional needs or come in groups as part of partnerships in the community. Others provide a committed, stable and often highly skilled regular commitment.
  • Managing and balancing workload tasks with volunteers is a major aspect of this post
  • Health and Safety: You will ensure that you and the working teams comply with procedures to manage risk to the public, staff, volunteers and contractors.  Ensuring that risk assessments are carried out in line with Trust guidance for works you are supervising and monitor compliance with safety procedures.
  • You will be involved in supporting quality visitor engagement within the Gardens to deliver the best possible visitor experience.
  • Our growing programme of events, hire and family friendly activities are core aspects contributing to the Trust’s long term future.
  • Your active participation in planning and positive support for preparation and delivery is key. This will involve some weekend and bank holiday working – by negotiation.
  • Alongside the General Manager, you will manage the modest gardens and maintenance budget and plan for appropriate purchases and growing tasks throughout the year.
  • You will monitor and control the resources delegated to you, improving cost efficiency wherever possible.

 Knowledge, skills and experience needed

  • Significant practical experience in horticulture, with qualifications to RHS Level 3 or equivalent.
  • A good level of plantmanship/plant husbandry skills with a good range of horticultural techniques. A practical knowledge of conservation and historic gardens will be a distinct advantage.
  • Leadership skills including coaching, motivation and excellent communication.
  • Experience of working with volunteers is essential. Volunteer teams at the Garden are varied in experience, skill and ability. The post holder will need to quickly grasp what can be achieved and find how to lead and motivate them.
  • Proven track record of managing small budget, finances and small projects.
  • Experience of assessing and managing risk. Knowledge of all Health and Safety and relevant compliance requirements.
  • A practical understanding of the needs of the visiting public. The Gardens are open 7 days a week to paying visitors. We run a public programme of small events, largely at weekends, as well as extensive schools and family friendly activities.
  • An entrepreneurial streak. We are looking to expand our ‘growing to sell’ projects as well as other ways to help financially support the Gardens.

About the Gardens

The Gardens are a restored, formal garden in the 17th /18th century style. There are formal lawns and box, yew, hornbeam and holly hedging throughout (2.5km in total)

  • Formal beds (upper and lower wilderness) with trees, shrubs, evergreens and annual underplanting.
  • Formal and semi-formal bedding areas, again in the 18th century ‘block’ style.
  • Two box and yew parterres, a 17 metre x 2.5 metre holly walk and a holly maze.
  • Two heritage apple and pear orchards with further espaliered wall fruit and trees.
  • A formal vegetable garden and medicinal /culinary herb borders.
  • 2 acres of the Gardens exist outside the 18th century walls. These are mainly cultivated for wildlife and used extensively for family and schools activities. There are 3 ponds (one formal, 2 natural).

Closing date for Applications  15th December 2017

Interviews … week commencing 8th January 2018 (tbc)

Please contact us with your cv and covering letter. For more information or for an informal chat ring Glynis Powell 0121 749 4100, gen.manager@cbhgt.org.uk

Click on the link below to download a shareable .pdf document of the information aboce

FT lead gardener Castle Bromwoich Hall Gardens

 

 

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Kale

This week I planted out 40 Kale plants in the Batty Langley vegetable garden that have been quietly growing along in the greenhouse since September. We are trying three varieties, ‘Red Russian’, ‘Cavolo Nero’ and ‘Borecole – Green Curled Dwarf’.

Kale does well over the colder months, so will hopefully add some interest in the garden over the following darker months. As pigeons take a fancy to stripping the foliage off plants in the Brassica family, the precaution of placing net over the kale plants has been necessary to stop them becoming just tattered stems!

I have used two beds to grow the kale in, with 20 plants in each one, and to create a neat formal look the use of a tape measure was implemented to ensure even spacing.

The botanical name for kale is Brassica oleracea var. acephala, ‘Brassica’ being the genus consisting of cabbages, ‘oleracea’ meaning that the plant can be used as a vegetable and ‘acephala’ meaning ‘without a head’, i.e that the plant is loose leafed rather than with a head as many cultivated cabbages have. Kale has a long history as a food crop, being one of the most important green vegetables in Europe up until the end of the Middle Ages.

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New plants from old

At this time of year a lot of plants are starting to go to seed, so it is a good time to go around and collect some of them so we can grow new plants for next year. Some can be sown straight away (as we are doing so in the greenhouses), others can be stored to be sown in the spring. We are also taking cuttings of some of the plants in the garden, and hopefully by next spring we will have lots of lovely plants to sell or plant back out in the garden.

We are trying seeds collected from plants including Alcea (hollyhock), Lychnis (rose campion), Lupin, Astrantia, Galega (Goat’s Rue), Poppy and Phlomis. Some, such as Lychnis, have already germinated, others we are still eagerly awaiting for signs of life! The interesting thing about seeds is the genetic variation that can occur, so often the resulting plants will show some variation from the parent, especially in the case of the hollyhocks, where the colour of the flowers on each plant will be a surprise!

Cuttings taken include Lavender, Rosemary, Jasmine and Philadelphus. These are all semi-ripe cuttings taken from this year’s growth, so the base is firm but with soft growth still on the tips. They are put in pots together, and then when roots start to show at the base of the pot, they will be separated and given their own pot to grow on. Unlike seeds, cuttings create clones of the parent plant, so you know exactly what you are going to get.

We look forward to seeing how our seeds and cuttings do, and in the meantime they have a trusty guardian to keep an eye on them!

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Cyclamen hederifolium

If you take a walk along the top of the Upper Wilderness to the far end and gaze underneath the large Yew tree, you will see the tiny but perfectly formed Cyclamen hederifolium coming into flower. A mixture of pink and white, the tiny flowers appear before the foliage, which as its name suggests is ivy-shaped (‘hederifolium’ coming from the Latin ‘Hedera’ for ivy, ‘folium’ refering to the leave shape). The common name ‘ivy-leaved cyclamen’ is self-explanatory, but its other common name ‘sowbread’ intrigued me. A bit of research concluded that it comes from the fact that ‘The root resembled a loaf and pigs were believed to enjoy eating it’.1  

Cyclamen coils

This plant originates in the Mediterranean, and was introduced into Britain around 1596, so would have been available in the early 18th century when the gardens were at their peak.

After the flowers have been pollinated, the stem coils around to take the seed heads closer to the ground, forming interesting little corkscrews underneath the flowers that you can see if you look closely. The reason they do this is not clear, but a possible theory is that ants may distribute the seeds further from the parent plant. All in all, a very interesting plant that is worth a closer look!

1. Campbell-Culver, M. 2001. Origins of plants: the people and the plants that shaped Britain. London: Headline Book Publishing.

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Head/Senior Gardener (p/t role)

Want to work in, and support, these amazing Historic Gardens?  We have an immediate vacancy for a part-time managing gardener who can help us plan and manage the next season or two.

Are you an experienced and trained gardener looking at a chance to ‘act up’  a grade, or perhaps are near retirement. 

The 10 acres of historic formal gardens – with wilder wildlife areas- in east Birmingham is owned and run by an independent charitable trust and staffed mainly by volunteers.

This is an opportunity for a qualified gardener (RHS level3 or equivalent vocational experience) with existing management and budgeting experience to extend or further practice their management skills.

See the attached Job description. Please ring or email us for an informal chat and more information.

Job Description (.docx)  Job Description P/T Head/Senior Gardener

Job description (pdf)  Job Description P/T Head/Senior Gardener

Please do share this with others.

 

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De Wit de woooo!

De Wit make garden tools – of consummate beauty

Two members of the amazingly talented garden toolmakers, de Wit, made a flying and unexpected visit to the Gardens today.

My, we’re all of aglitter and aglow!

Sietse and Derk-klass de Wit had just flown in to be part of the GLEE garden show at the NEC, but instead of hanging around their stall they hopped into a taxi for a quick whizz round our Gardens.

dewit-logoDe Wit are a family firm based in the Netherlands, but their exquisite hand forged garden tools are known and revered worldwide. See their stunning site here The Garden Tool Factory. If you follow our facebook page you will see many shared photos by their brother Derk de Wit who takes the most inspiring photographs of gardens.

Special affinity

Dutch born Captain William Winde, cousin to the Bridgeman family, heavily influenced the design of our gardens in the late 17th century, so, Dutch style and quality is a long term companion for us.sietse-de-wit-and-glynis

We sell a small selection of the carbon steel and ash handled tools in our shop,  they are not cheap but they do literally last a lifetime and acquire a handsome patina with use. If there is a serious gardener in your life, here is where you will find that special gift.

To top the day for me, Sietse also offered to support our volunteer gardeners by supplying them with some tools too. Our cup runneth o’er.

 

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hallmoor students celebrate the harvest

Harvest for Hallmoor pupils

First visit of term for Hallmoor school pupils

We were pleased to welcome back Hallmoor school pupils today. A class of pupils comes every Friday to learn gardening skills, cultivate their patch of land and grow vegetables.

Before the summer break they had planted, hoe’d and weeded the plot….and today they saw it had all played off. A bumper crop of beans, onions and pumpkins and more to come.

Well done kids…next stop, planting the winter veg

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(a)Maze – ing work

Our holly maze is a favourite with everyone.
Managing the convoluted pathways and prickly hedges is a constant job. With fewer gardeners over the last few years and the sad loss of some of our ‘maze- expert’ volunteers, the poor maze has looked more than a little ragged. One of our education team volunteers regularly attacks the rampant pioneer brambles, just so our school visitors can still enjoy that last ecstatic run around the mysterious maze.

Mediterranean Makeover
This summer we’ve had a bit of a boost…Our partnership with the small charity REEP led to us hosting three international horticultural students who designed and planted up colourful beds at the centre of the maze. (See more about it in the post we wrote earlier: here ) Spurred on by their beautiful flowers we have prioritised some work on pruning the maze.

Helped initially by some young helpers – our ‘prickle persecutors’ – and, this week, by Gordon our gardener and volunteers the maze has now had a full trim. The best haircut it has had for a couple of years.

Later in the year we will trim again and pay some attention to the compacted and starving root system. By next spring, we hope to have filled gaps and brought back healthy growth all round.

Getting around the maze may still be a mystery to solve, but at least the paths will be open and clear.

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