We have had a very busy summer here in the garden at Strawberry Hill House, thanks partly to several donations and funding bids that have come in for a series of garden projects.
In June and July, First Grounds Maintenance
came and reseeded our lawn where it had been damaged by the presence of the ice rink. The process involved spiking the lawn with a VertiDrain, using a tractor mounted seeder and then spreading a top dressing of sand over the area. This was kindly paid for by Stadium Support Services. It really has made a difference and the lawn looks great now.
The Teddington Society have generously given us two donations this year. One was for gravel for our car park and it does look much better there now because of it. The second was for terracotta pots and plants for around the outside of the house. There are many paintings that date from Horace Walpole’s time at Strawberry Hill and those of the house show a large number of planted wooden tubs and terracotta pots.
18th century engraving showing pots Garden volunteer Kevin watering new plants
The donated money has helped us recreate part of the 18th century garden a little more closely.
Another project that has started this summer is in the woodland which has been a little neglected over the years. Here we will recreate Walpole’s Serpentine Walk, a winding wooded path lined with flowering trees, shrubs and flowers. To start this transformative project, the volunteers have spent a lot of the summer clearing areas of bramble, ivy and bind weed. They have opened up glades and pruned back trees and shrubs to let more light in. After we started this work we heard the amazing news that we were to receive funding for the project from the Richmond Civic Pride Fund. This has enabled us to buy a number of suitable trees and shrubs as well as tools. Many of the trees are British natives such as rowan/mountain ash (Sorbus aucuparia), wild service tree (Sorbus torminalis), hawthorn (Crataegus monogyna), dog rosa (Rosa canina), field rose (Rosa arvensis), and crab apple. We will also be planting tutsan (Hypericum androsaemum) and common wayfaring tree (Viburnum lantana). These will add year-round interest to the area with colours from flowers, leaves and berries, and they will be good for wildlife. Further possible funding will help us buy bulbs such as bluebells and snowdrops, ferns and other woodland perennials. This week we spent two days working with students from Richmond upon Thames College who helped to clear some ivy and plant trees and shrubs as part of the project (full blog to follow).
In June, a group of garden volunteers, tour guides and I visited Rousham, a beautiful garden near Bicester in Oxfordshire. It was created by William Kent for General James Dormer in the late 1730s. Horace Walpole was a great admirer of William Kent’s work and Rousham was one of his favourite gardens and I can see why. It is stunning with its ponds and rills, temples, statues, tree lined avenues and vistas. There is also a fabulous walled garden. I will be writing more of Rousham, Kent and Walpole in a future blog.
Elsewhere, the volunteers have been hard at work weeding, watering, pruning, dead heading, mowing and edging. I am ten months into my time at Strawberry Hill and it has been a great year so far. Roll on autumn…
Kate Robinson, Gardener-in-Charge