by Lizzy Mansfield, garden apprentice
It has been a fantastic year and a half being an apprentice at Fulham Palace but sadly it is now my time to leave for new adventures at Cambridge University Botanic Garden and to pass the baton onto Alfonso, the newest member of the gardening team.
It has been an Apprenticeship full of different experiences and it has been amazing to see how much the garden has changed in the short period of time that I have been here.
It has been fascinating to be at Fulham Palace for two spring and summer periods as I have been able to become obsessed with two different types of vegetables! What other chance do you get to have a spreadsheet about brassicas and then the next year consider the relative merits of thinning root vegetables and an ongoing friendly rivalry with my furry squirrel nemesis? I get to leave as the garden is looking beautiful with gorgeous, colourful flowers everywhere and plenty of produce filling the barrow.
I have enjoyed seeing the garden throughout the seasons watching it come to life after sleeping through the winter starting to buzz with promise, although sleep is definitely not what the gardening team and volunteers have been doing over the winters. Last winter, I joined just as the path-widening project was being completed and got to see the start of the transformation of the walled garden with the installation of the apple arch and the widening of the beds in the vegetable garden.
This winter, we’ve really got moving with the Heritage Lottery Fund project in the garden where the new beds and path are an exciting prospect and I will definitely be coming back to have a look when they are completed. It is very important to say that all these improvements could not have been done without all the hard work and dedication of the volunteers who have been working through all weather conditions, from the snow of the ‘Beast from the East’ to the blazing hot summer we have had so far.
Also my experience and the garden would not have been the same without the fabulous gardening team who have all taught me so much and have been such fun to work with, particularly my fellow apprentices Franziska and Alice who have brilliant horticultural futures ahead. Also a special mention to an integral member of the team, Edmund the Palace cat – and Head of Pest Control – although I think his modelling career appears to be taking precedence.
Finally, I want to say a massive thank you to Fulham Palace for giving me the opportunity to do the Apprenticeship. It has been such a wonderful and informative experience that has set me up for the next stage of my career. And if anyone is visiting the Botanic Garden in Cambridge, do please say hello!