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Paths, pruning and paws

by Jamie Atwell, garden volunteer

Easter and its chocolate overdose is behind us. We can now get back (with slightly fuller girths admittedly – or at least so in my case) to full on activity in the garden. For me, April is one of the most exciting and busiest times here – seeds are being planted; seedlings being pricked out;  the veg garden is being lovingly prepared along with the newly extended soft fruit area. In addition to all this activity, there are other tasks going on that should not be overlooked.

Firstly, and most intriguingly, the new pathway construction, east and south of the walled garden, part of our National Lottery Heritage Fund funded restoration project is well underway . Not only will the path  make it much easier for all of us to explore the wonderful garden at the Palace, but will follow some of the original path here – I well remember the excitement when some of my co-volunteers came across the edging of an old 19th century pathway when we were busy clearing ivy from a formerly neglected area.

Secondly, and this may sound counter-intuitive, is the pruning that has been keeping us busy over the last few days. In particular, I am thinking of the penstemons in the walled garden. Unlike most perennial plants the best time to prune them back is not the autumn but spring. Under the careful direction of head gardener Lucy Hart and her professional team, we volunteers have been cutting these back to some 30 – 40 cms (or approximately 12 inches in old money) to ensure that new growth will flourish over the next few weeks and provide a wonderful display later in the year.

Talk of seedlings brings me on to my third and final point. At present, the vinery is bursting with new plants of all varieties. Some plant pots, however, bear a mysterious imprint. To my untutored eye, they bear an uncanny resemblance to the paw prints of a certain cat – could it be that Edmund (our resident moggy) has been giving us secret assistance ?

garden path restoration works underway