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Behind the Scenes1st May 2020

National Gardening Week: Tales from a Dockyard Gardener

The words “dockyard” and “garden” don’t naturally go together but with it being National Gardening Week there’s no better time to highlight the work that goes on behind the scenes to care for the Dockyard’s green spaces.

We caught up with Warren and Baz our socially distancing gardeners from Medway Norse:

“With the ‘virus’ effecting all human life it is great to see that nature continues and the seasons move from one to another as they have always done.

We will get through this episode and it will be consigned to the history books and soon we will be able to enjoy the wonders that nature and gardens can provide. We are still looking after the gardens and maintaining our social distance, isolated behind the brick walls of Commissioner’s House Garden.

Irrespective of what is going on in the world, here at the Dockyard the grass keeps growing and the flowers are transforming themselves from their winters rest into beautiful blooms.

Commissioner’s Garden is a remarkable oasis in an industrial landscape that hasn’t changed much in the last two centuries.

We have the privilege of looking after this jewel of a garden as well as the surrounding areas of the Historic Dockyard. We may mow the lawns, trim the hedges and remove the weeds from the site as our ‘normal’ tasks but the Commissioner’s Garden is our special place. Over the past few years, since our company won the contract for the grounds maintenance, the garden has been our showpiece. There’s nothing more satisfying than seeing our hard work in the garden develop into areas of wonderful vibrant, scented flowers and then chatting to the visitors admiring our plants and comparing gardener’s anecdotes.

We are busy in our elegant Edwardian green house, sowing seeds for various plants as well as nurturing the old grape vines, our unusual banana plant which has new leaves appearing and our tall, standard fuchsia’s that will provide a beautiful flowered statement when Commissioner’s House is back in use.

In the garden we are just seeing the tulips finish their display and we now have the architectural leaves of the Globe Artichoke contrasting the delicate blossom from the apple and quince trees. In amongst the large swathes of colour we have a small group of very delicate spotted orchids.  The roses planted last year are quickly climbing the arbours and will be full of flower in the next month or so. The tree peonies are showing the first signs of their flowers and the iris buds will soon explode into bright vivid spots of colour.

We ensure we have an array of pollinating plants developing throughout the year to help our new Bee colony.

Our tasks this week include dividing out some of the perennials as well as planting more roses, and developing the borders with lupins, aquilegia and other herbaceous favourites

In readiness for a couple of new helpers, we have created an area for some rescue hedgehogs to be released into the garden. This will provide them a safe sanctuary and help us deal with some of the garden pests that tend to plague most gardens.

We look forward to when the garden can be reopened and you can visit, in the meantime, Stay Safe.”

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