So here we are with the first of this year’s monthly visits to our chosen patch, Attingham Park, a National Trust property and without doubt one of the most popular. It is so popular simply because there is such a choice of walks. For our January visit we chose a cold but bright day and we enjoyed the company of the winter sun.
We began our wander by visiting the walled garden to see what the gardeners have been getting up to within the protection of its walls. We took the soft path where the surface is made from chipped bark which feels friendlier and more natural under our feet than the alternative gravel path which runs almost parallel. It is good to feel a path giving slightly beneath each footstep. The path leads us beneath tall mature deciduous trees bare of their leaves. The leaves from the fall remain carpeting the ground as a reminder of autumn but there are also signs of things to come, the leaves of bulbs have broken the surface and look like green spears thrusting towards the sky. It won’t be long until they are flowering away brightening up the woodlands. Buds on the branches of the trees are fattening up ready to open in the spring and clothe the woodland with greenery.
As we approached the walled garden the freshly painted bench glowed white strongly contrasting with the brick-red wall which provided support for trained fruit trees.
Entering the walled garden we could appreciate the vastness of it and marvel at the amount of produce grown in the past for the “big house”.
We could see straight away that the gardening team of employed gardeners and volunteer gardeners had been busy creating beautiful structures from hazel and willow for climbing crops to clamber up. They had also been spreading a thick layer of rich compost as a mulch where needed, in between which deep layers of chipped bark had been lain to make soft comfortable paths.
The most important crops remaining in the ground and currently being harvested are the members of the brassica family, such as cabbages, kales and sprouts. They are very decorative crops with their coloured leaves with each cultivar sporting its own texture. One crop is hidden away beneath terracotta forcers, keeping the light off their developing stalks, rhubarb. The forced stalks will be pale-coloured and sweet-tasting.
Blackboards keep visitors informed of the current gardening tasks being carried out in the garden. The one info board sadly explained that the chickens were under cover because of the current “bird flu” scare.
An annex to the walled garden is enclosed in a similar fashion but contains the range of glasshouses and cut flower beds. In this area there is a collection of the herbaceous bulb, Camassia. In the summer their many shades of blue and white will brighten up their corner border.
On entering the bothy we discovered the gardeners and volunteers enjoying their mid-morning break and a chance to get together to discuss the work in hand. They were a happy bunch laughing and enjoying their company. As always the bothy had interesting displays on view for visitors to enjoy and learn from.
We left the walled garden via the wooden doorway into the orchard. We found that the trees had been treated to a dose of wood ash from the bothy’s fire and woodburner. The outer walls are also used for training fruits possibly grape vines or kiwi fruit. We shall find out when the leaf buds unfurl.
The volunteers and gardeners followed us out of the walled garden each wheeling a wheelbarrow in which they would soon be loading more mulch for top-dressing the veg beds. Leaving the productive area of the park we decided to move forward and follow the path leading us to the Woodland Walk. In part two of my January Attingham post we will share the woodland walk experience with you.