By Sarah Nicholl-Carne, garden volunteer
One of the joys of being a garden volunteer at Fulham Palace, is the chance to spend a whole day outdoors, once a week, throughout the year. As well as topping up our Vitamin D, we can see the whole cycle of the seasons slowly unfold, in a wonderful setting.
Visitors to the garden often stop for a chat, and are amazed that we turn up all year round (with a little break over Christmas). People sitting cosy at home might think we are crazy, but even in January, with a woolly hat, scarf and sufficient layers – we are soon peeling off those layers as we set about our tasks, revelling in the fresh air, the birds and the magnificent trees.
Of course there are many other benefits to our volunteering; we have all witnessed the recent restoration of the Palace, and have helped with establishing the new Compton beds, celebrating the 17th century botanist Bishop, who introduced so many North American plants and trees, and cultivated them in Fulham.
Another plus, is the chance to learn new skills. A couple of weeks ago, head gardener, Lucy Hart, ran a Christmas wreath workshop for garden volunteers, so that we could make them to sell.
Starting with a copper circle as the base, we twined silver birch twigs around, and stuffed moss (sustainably sourced) into the gaps. Now we could start decorating. It is remarkable that, given the same resources, we all came up with such disparate results. There were buckets of holly with berries, ivy, yew and eucalyptus, as well as several varieties of fir cone, all from the Palace garden. We had all sorts of ribbon, gold spray and then we were encouraged to let our creativity run free.
On the coldest day in February each year, traditionally we start to prune the wisteria. The Wisteria sinensis in the walled garden is over a hundred years old and 40 metres long. Earlier this year, it rendered lots of extended growth (as it does every year), some over 20 feet long, which we coiled up, dried, and used as an alternative base for the wreaths.
There are still wreathes for sale in the vinery in the walled garden, as well as greenery, and personalised wooden decorations. Please come and visit for a last minute handmade Christmas treat.