A Day in the Life of… A Quarry Bank Gardener

Has this spurt of sunny weather inspired you to get outside and start gardening?

For our gardeners at Quarry Bank, everyday – come rain or shine – is spent tending to the beautiful and varied gardens across the site.

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We spoke to Jonathan Price about what he gets up to on an average day in the Quarry Bank Gardens…

Could you set the scene for your average day as a Quarry Bank Gardener?

Each day is a race against the clock to get certain things done before the gardens open to visitors. We begin with a check on the biomass boiler before unlocking the vine house and watering the vines and plants in the tropical plant house where we also need to dampen the floor in order to increase the humidity.

We then move on to the wonderfully restored glasshouse, watering the plants in the display rooms as well as those in the propagation and quarantine  areas. Only then are we ready to welcome visitors.

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The team will then normally disperse to focus on the specific areas of the garden they are responsible for. For me that means heading to the riverside and Ladies Gardens, though I’m not alone as we have some brilliant volunteers who join us for key maintenance work such as mowing and weeding.

Sometimes, when we are developing a specific area of the garden we will all work together. At the moment we are preparing Quarry Bank House garden for opening later this year, and preparing Ferney Brow for woodland under planting  in the near future. There has been a lot of project work this year developing new areas of the garden, and it’s exciting to see  them being transformed. The Redwood Walk for example was like a jungle a year ago but now the magnificent ancient conifers are shown off to their full advantage! We have also been working to reveal some of the original picturesque views, I watched from the Great Beech  as some low branches were removed from the Oak by the Packhorse Bridge, revealing the bridge just as it appears in some of the old photos and drawings!

Does the weather have an impact on your work?

YES! When it’s wet we cant walk on the beds too much as it compacts the soil and becomes very muddy.  In very bad weather as a last resort we clean and sharpen tools in the compound. In warm sunny weather morale rises and we achieve much more!

What are your plans for the gardens this year?

 The two projects mentioned above are the main things. In addition we are installing a carpet bedding scheme in the long border at the beginning of June, to celebrate the reopening of Quarry Bank House. It will be based on the Greg family crest, as depicted in the stained glass window in the study at Quarry Bank House – quite a challenge depicting stars, moons, wheat sheaves, cedar trees and swords just using different coloured plants!

 Can you tell us about how wildlife impacts your job?

The garden is a haven for rabbits, slugs and squirrels! We have fencing around the upper garden to keep out rabbits, and try to plant rabbit and slug resistant varieties in the Ladies Garden , for example.  We try not to use slug pellets, as these can kill thrushes and other wildlife. Badgers sometimes dig up the lawns as well!

On the positive side, otters are sometimes seen by the river, bats around the cave, and a huge variety of bird and insect life, including many species of dragonfly and damselfly near the pond by the gardeners’ compound.

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What is your favourite thing about your job here?

My favourite time in the garden is early in the morning down by the river bank – no-one is around, the sun is just warming up, the river is babbling over the weirs, and I’ve twice seen otters, it’s like my own private paradise!

 

 
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