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Spring has sprung!

by Lizzy Mansfield, garden apprentice

I am already six weeks into my apprenticeship and I cannot believe how much the time has flown by. It has been a wonderful time of year to start when spring was just around the corner and the garden has been full of activity.

When I first arrived in the garden the path widening project in the walled garden was already well under way and provided me with an initial taste of hard landscaping and kept me nicely warm in those first few cold days in February. The garden team and the volunteers have done such a great job and worked incredibly hard, the final path will look fantastic and provide even greater access through the garden.

My first few weeks have also had a little bit of an apple theme, with two really informative workshops with Lucy Hart (the head gardener) on apple grafting and apple pruning. Apple grafting in particular was a really interesting experience as I have never had the opportunity to try the techniques before. Grafting joins parts from two plants (the scion and the rootstock) combining them so that they grow as a single plant. This is carried out for a number of different reasons; to produce the same cultivar that would not come true from seed, to take advantage of the properties of the rootstock such controlling the overall size of the tree by using dwarf rootstock and to produce fruiting plant in a shorter timeframe. It was a tricky technique to master but fingers crossed some of my grafts will have taken!

Recently spring has definitely felt like it has sprung with some wonderfully warm days, meaning the pace has picked up in the vegetable garden with the planting of onion and shallot sets, seed sowing and the preparation of the beds for planting. We have also had a flurry of bulbs bursting into flower and blossom on display around the gardens and I particularly love the woodland walk that has been covered in a variety of snowdrops (Galanthus) and daffodils (Narcissus), also as a special treat the odd snake’s head fritillary (Fritillaria meleagris) may be seen gently nodding and is worth taking that extra bit of time walking down the path.

It has been a great few first weeks and I have been grateful for all the help given to me so far by all the staff and volunteers.