Hello all and nice to meet you! I am Katie, one of the new Triad Fellows from the UK.
I have been working at Hidcote for just over three weeks now. The time has whizzed by but somehow it seems like I’ve been here for ages: probably because of the number of things I’ve managed to cram in, and all the new people and places.
I’m really enjoying work so far, getting to know a new garden with lots of new plants and lots of new type of work. New to me, anyway! At Bodnant Garden, where I normally work as a gardener, I mostly work in woodland and less formal areas: quite unlike Hidcote, which is fiddly central! As a Triad Fellow, I get to work in all areas of the garden and am not confined to one of the three teams’ areas. That gives a lovely diversity of work and places to work in: I’ve been digging up herbaceous in the Old Garden, tidying the Long Borders & the Pillar Garden, weeding & harvesting in the vegetable garden, deadheading in Mrs Winthrops and all sorts of other things.
And I have been having a good go on the hedge cutting. At Hidcote there are, of course, a lot of hedges. The standard description is that there are 4.5 miles of hedge faces to cut: this takes 4-5 months with 8 members of staff each cutting for two days a week. So as you can guess, hedges are taken very seriously here, with every member of staff (I think) having their own Little Wonder. As part of renovations over the last 15 years, mains electricity lines have been run to all the areas of the garden with hedges, so no dragging a generator around with you: all you need is a transformer and a looooong cable. Despite the amazing convenience of the electricity supply and the electric hedge cutter (it’s so quiet! It’s so light!) it still takes a long time to cut the hedges because a standard as close as possible to perfect is required. Absolutely straight lines all round, please. Well, unless it’s a bit of topiary, of course. I started off working on hedges that “aren’t integral to the design vision” [subtext: it won’t matter so much if you mess up!] and have been judged as producing a pretty OK-looking hedge. As a reward, I have spent half a day cutting in the Green Room, doing the inside of a curved hedge that is mostly yew but with a box base (giving a tapestry effect): quite tricky! Let’s hope I don’t mess it up because then… who knows what I’ll be allowed to cut?! If you’re laughing at this, let it be known that hedges are important and it does matter if they’re perfectly straight or not. And no, a little bit wonky is not OK. I’ve always loved cutting hedges and am quite obsessive so this is perfect for me.
But apart from work, Matt & I have been making good use of our weekends and study days and I’ve already visited 14 gardens since I’ve been here. Below is the working list and I’ll try & do another post with photo highlights. So far, I’m having a brilliant time and am really looking forward to our one-week placements. The first will be working at Chatsworth the week after next, followed by Wisley in October. Brilliant!