Happy New Year from Strawberry Hill Garden!
First of all an introduction is needed. My name is Ashley Edwards and I am the new Gardener in Charge here at Strawberry Hill House & Garden. I completed my training at RBG Kew and have a Diploma in Horticulture. Since my training, I have worked at Longwood Gardens, in the US and Anna Tasca Lanza Cooking School in Sicily, as the garden manager intern. It is my pleasure to take over the ongoing restoration project of the grounds here at Strawberry and provide a place of beauty to be enjoyed by the public and visitors of the House. With the help of our wonderful and enthusiastic group of volunteers, we tend to the 5 acres of land and carry out important projects that keep the garden true to Horace Walpole’s original design.
My first week at Strawberry Hill was an exciting one, with the Woodland Walk being officially opened by Alan Titchmarsh. My predecessors along with the volunteers had worked hard to open a new Serpentine walk through the woodland, which mimics the same walk that Walpole would have taken during his time, albeit in another location.
The site of the current Woodland Walk would have originally been an open landscape, with terraced grassland, and views of the Thames and beyond. Housing has replaced the river meadows and an established woodland has sprung up along the terrace forming the Walk. At the end of the Woodland Walk you will find the impressive Walpole oak, and at over 250 years old, it’s a whopper.
If you haven’t had a chance to visit the Woodland Walk yet, please do. You’ll see many native trees that Walpole also delighted in, as well as birds of different species and our resident foxes and squirrels.
We plan to develop the Woodland Walk further by adding more native species for seasonal colour and pollinators. We have already planted a good amount of bulbs which should flower this spring, including daffodils, grape hyacinth and tulips. Bulb planting was also continued into the car park and front of house areas to give some early colour this spring.
The garden is still far from dormant. Although we’ve had a few hard frosts, the weeds are determined to keep on growing. In the Woodland, we are continuing to dig up the brambles and keep the alkanet under control. However, these are important plants for pollinators and birds, so there are areas where we leave them to grow wild.The garden is giving us signs of hope, with snowdrops and crocus already poking through the soil, and even on the darkest days, the Mahonia and autumn cherry are flowering their socks off.
Winter is also the perfect time to see the real structure of the trees we have, from the graceful but thorny branches of the false acacias, to the great heavy boughs of the oak. Also, the house looks like an image straight from a winter fairy tale on those bright frosty days. You’ll see from the photo bellow that we’ve had to cover our orange trees until the winter weather passes. We have used frost protection fleece with clear plastic polythene and they’ll be uncovered again in April.
So don’t let the cold put you off, come down and visit Strawberry Hill House and Gardens and if you see us working away please come and say hi!
The Garden is open for free, 7 days a week.
The House is typically open on Sundays from 11am-4pm and on Mondays 12-4pm. Last admission to the house is one hour before closing. We welcome drop-in visits.
For more information visit our website: www.strawberryhillhouse.org.uk
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The Garden on Twitter: @strawbgardens