The Walled Garden at Waterperry
Pat Havers, Head Gardener at Waterperry, describes an exciting new project to restore the Walled Garden there, plus some other new features in the gardens - 17 June 2016
2016 is going to be an exciting year for Waterperry gardens as, after much deliberation, we have decided to put in to action the refurbishment of the Walled Garden. Plans have been drawn up, beds have started to be dug, Fruit trees are going to be planted and we have enthusiasm in abundance!
The great thing about this project is that we can call upon the experience and memories of one very special former Waterperry student, Mary Spiller. Mary came to Waterperry in 1942 when the Walled garden would have been producing lots of fruit and vegetables etc that would have been harvested and sold in the shop in Oxford's Covered Market, or used to feed students living in the house. Mary always has the words of wisdom that keeps us focused on the job in hand instead of us getting overly excited and carried away.
An artist's impression of the restored Walled Gardens at Waterperry
Also on board we have our Fruit expert Chris Lanczak. Chris is responsible for all of the fruit grown here and produces the wonderful apple juice and cider sold in the shop, teashop and many other outlets in Oxfordshire. He will be planting a small orchard, fruit on the lovely walls and plenty of soft fruit, and this area will also be very helpful as a teaching resource once everything in one place. Chris has a wealth of experience as he grew up in the village and has worked at Waterperry since leaving school.
Spearheading the whole project is Simon Buchanan, Waterperry's new and very enthusiastic Managing Director, and Rob Jacobs our Horticultural Manager, whose experience is invaluable and an essential part of keeping this project on track. Chris Ryan will be in charge of the vegetable production and is already planting the first crops that will be growing in Spring 2016.
Then there is me! Pat Havers, Head Gardener of the very special gardens at Waterperry. Like Chris, I was a child in the village when Miss Havergal had her School for Women Gardeners and this is where I remember playing and being fascinated by all the plants around me. I am going to introduce a cutting garden into the walled garden to represent the big pots of chrysanthemums that were grown there by a lovely lady called Joan Stokes. This will be a great project for all of our visitors to watch grow, expand, enjoy and finally taste in the teashop, over the next few years.
Meanwhile, in the formal gardens there is lots going on! We are extending Rob's border which is the modern grasses border. This has been very successful over the last 3 years; low maintenance and very attractive from November to February when the rest of the gardens are having their winter tidy, It is a great haven for wildlife.
The herbaceous borders at Waterperry
The river walks have been a hit with visitors this winter and it is here we have been cutting our hazel, ready for staking the borders and courses in May. I keep looking at the stack of hazel trying to judge if there will be enough! Usually we get it right but with a 200ft long border full of plants to stake it is quite a responsibility and I am quite relieved when it is all done.
Pat Havers preparing home-cut hazel stakes for the borders
After many years, we have finally worked out how to grow the water lilies in clean, balanced water by leaving our tap water for drinking. You can now see tadpoles, newts and diving beetles making their homes within the canal.
Our nursery here at Waterperry is now in the capable hands of our new manager Candice. She has brought new life and vigour to the plants produced here, many of which have made their way in to the gardens.
So we look forward to welcoming you all to the Rare Plants Fair on June 26th and we wish all gardeners and nurseries a great growing season.
Photographs by Mark Lord