It is with great relief and hope that we enter the 2013 open season here at Sissinghurst Castle, but why so? Quite simply 2012 was a horrible year, with drought soon to be followed by a complete soaking, which made the efforts of the gardeners and countryside rangers very challenging. We have much excitement ahead of us this year, with some challenging expectations, and significant changes to the team.
The winter has been changeable, with snow, rain, wind and the odd nice day. The ground is very wet indeed, making gardening difficult, and walking about in the mud a challenge. Louise has recently taken over as Senior Vegetable Gardener, with her new assistant Helen starting in March, and has been busy converting the vegetable garden to a no-dig system of growing. She will contribute to this blog, and explain more about it very soon.
Our propagator leaves us at the end of February, and the new Senior Propagator, Emma, will start at the beginning of March. She will have the hard task of picking up from her predecessor, providing the 10,000 plants for the garden, and 12,500 for the garden shop, whilst getting to know a new nursery.
At the end of April Alexis Datta the Head Gardener retires after over 20 years at Sissinghurst. This is a big change for the team, and will take some getting used to for all of us. She will be followed by Troy Smith, who started out at Sissinghurst years ago, and is currently the Head Gardener at Bodnant in North Wales. Troy has an excellent flower gardening background, and is well suited to take the baton from Alexis.
The Ranger team is as yet unchanged, and will continue their excellent work on the farm and in the woods. They have created even more opportunities this year for you to join them on walks, talks and activities, and although the ground is still wet, have worked hard getting the paths ready for a quick-dry in spring. We were also very pleased to apply for and have been granted an HLS scheme for the whole farm, which the rangers and farmer worked hard on to achieve, steering the farm along the route of improved conservation for the next 10 years.
Finally, 2013 sees the property open 7 days a week from the beginning of March. This will bring some challenges to the team as we get used to having people around every day, and adapting the way we work in order to get key tasks completed. With the skills and experience that the team have we are confident in this, and are pleased to be able to show the gardens and estate off to their usual high standards.
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