Gardening group 2
We spend most of the year visiting gardens within about a 20 mile radius of Emsworth but in the winter months we might meet at the community centre and have speakers, videos or discussions on gardening issues. We have a Christmas lunch and a summer garden party.
For our first meeting of the year in February 2020 we welcomed Emma Moffat and Rebecca Lloyd to talk to us about the Work and Retrain as a Gardener Scheme (WRAGS). Emma explained that the scheme had its origins in 1899 and the suffragette movement supporting women who wished to work on the land. In World War 2 the Women’s Land Army was formed and the Government became involved with training being organised by WFGA. The WRAG Scheme was launched in 1993 to provide paid, part-time, practical horticultural training. The trainee works for 14 hours a week for the whole year, in a carefully sourced garden, under the instruction of the garden owner or head gardener. Graduates of the Scheme enter a wide range of horticultural careers including, running their own gardening business, plant nursery work, head gardener roles and working for the WFGA as Regional Managers.
We were lucky enough to find the weather, on the second Tuesday in March 2020, a vast improvement from last year (!) and we enjoyed a visit to Denman’s garden which began with a welcome coffee and homemade biscuits.
Vanessa Horstead gave us a brief introduction to the garden which was the former home and garden of the late John Brookes MBE, one of Britain’s most influential landscape designers. Denmans Garden features dry riverbeds, gravel gardens, a walled garden, a conservatory, and unusual plants from around the world. The contemporary 4-acre garden was converted from market garden to ornamental garden by plants woman Joyce Robinson. As you can see from the photographs there was a lot to see in the garden and also some wise advice freely given from one of the gardeners on duty.
We managed a small picnic in Priory Park, Chichester with bubbly and cake which cheered us up after the spring and summer lockdown.
We were unexpectedly able to visit Denmans again in September in a small group; prior to the next lockdown and it was interesting to see the differences in the garden between the seasons.
At the current time, April 2021, we look back on a year unlike any other; certainly in recent memory! We do hope that you have remained well and send our sympathy to anyone for whom it has been a sad year. We have all missed our regular visits to gardens to lift our spirits and inspire us. However, the lockdown has enabled us to experiment in our gardens and we hope that this has resulted in some exciting discoveries.
As restrictions are gradually lifted we are looking forward to further garden visits; the first of which was to Bignor Park, near Pulborough on a sunny, chilly Tuesday this month. We were greeted by Louise Elliott who lives in Emsworth and is the head gardener. She and her team have worked hard to keep the garden in shape during a time when no visitors have been allowed and although it was early in the year, there was plenty to enjoy and admire. I have attached a few photos.
Our next visit is to Bramdean House, near Alresford and this promises to give an opportunity to enjoy late spring/early summer flowers. Further reports after our visit!