A day in the life of a Head Gardener
Waking ear ly, sunl ight flooding my bedroom floor, I rouse my dogs, take my daughter’s and and set off for the potting shed. This familiar wander marks the passage from home to work, and the start of my day as head gardener here at Garsington Manor. Negotiating the phalanxes of fastigate Irish yews – all slightly struggling with their starchy verticality despite the support of tight wire corsets keeping these grand old ladies in shape – we cross the south-facing slope.
Coming around the back of a high brick wall, we enter the ramshackle, masculine potting shed, which is well hidden at the back of a pretty beehive glasshouse, full to bursting with the lipstick shades of zonal pelargonium flowers. Watering the potted plants is the first job
every day from spring through to autumn. It is best to avoid delay. Watering cans, an eclectic selection of sticky traps, a spray of liquid soap (if the aphids are really getting carried away), and a keen eye are the only things required to look after the young plants for this entire six-acre garden, including the vegetables. They are the domain of John Prior, who has gardened here for 60 years. As we collect much of our own seed, I have
never felt the need to buy Nicotiana sylvestris, N.mutablis, Salvia patens or an annual poppy of any description, but not all seed is as reliable and easy to nurture through to maturity.
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