Cobbling something together

Wednesday 9 July 2014

Dean Rogers and Jonathan Millar sorting cobbles. (c) Jill Russell

Dean Rogers and Jonathan Millar sorting cobbles

The cobbles have been lifted from their position on the terrace at the back of the house.   Dean and Jonathan, experts who have been working with cobbles for 10 years in churches and gardens, have been cleaning the cobbles and discarding the badly worn and marked ones. The perfect ones will be re-laid in lime and damp sand. The design hasn’t been decided yet as there are many ways of laying them, but they hope to get started on it tomorrow. I would love to go and watch them being laid but if I think like this I would have to go and live there as there is always something interesting going on.

Cobbles

Jill

Beauty in nature

Wednesday 25 June 2014

 Cobweb with drops of water shining in the sun. Thanks to Olive for spotting this, she finds beauty in everything at Mount Stewart.


Cobweb with drops of water shining in the sun. Thanks to Olive for spotting this, she finds beauty in everything at Mount Stewart.

Some days it’s about just looking at the beauty of the amazing plants and the wildlife that live within them. You might have your feet squidging around in mud from the rain and your arms wet up to your elbows from the summer showers – and then your co-volunteer (that’s you Olive) gives you a poke and says ‘would you look at that cobweb…how about that for your diary’. And the digging stops for a bit while we all look at the mind boggling structures and patterns created by a titchy little 8 legged creature hiding somewhere among the foliage. Then it was back to edging and weeding around the beds in the Sunk Garden.

Jill

Welcome to our new recruit, Rachael!

Wednesday 11 June 2014

 Rachael Martin


Rachael Martin

Rachael is one of two new gardeners appointed to Mount Stewart. This is a complete career change for her. She worked in health service administration for 10 years, then got her own house and was completely smitten with the garden and gardening. She went to CAFRE (College of Agriculture, Food and Rural Enterprise) in 2010 for a three-year course, studying one day a week while keeping on her original job. Did volunteering work with Belfast City Council and Parks Department at Belfast Castle. Succeeded in getting a placement with Historic and Botanic Garden Bursary Scheme, 6 months with Mount Stewart and 6 months with Rowallane. Then she applied successfully for a permanent position as Gardener with Mount Stewart. Her area of responsibility is the Lily Wood. She believes this was all meant to be as her favourite flower is the lily, as was her mother’s and she has a tattoo of a lily on her shoulder.

Happy days for Rachael. We had our first day working with her today. A joy to work with.

Jill

It’s raining, it’s pouring – but a glorious day at Mount Stewart!

Wednesday 28 May 2014

 Paeonia ‘Souvenir de Maxime Cornu’ in the Spanish Garden. Do look for it, it is a stunner.


Paeonia ‘Souvenir de Maxime Cornu’ in the Spanish Garden. Do look for it, it is a stunner.

It took two of us all day to remove hundreds of white Tulip Mount Tacoma from all the pots in the Shamrock Garden, the Dodo Terrace, Reception area, Mairi Garden, Spanish Garden and under the pergola in the Sunk Garden. They have been an amazing sight, pure white, but they are over so quickly. I wonder what will be put in the pots for the summer, I hope we will be planting them up. Lots of work done in the Sunk Garden under the pergolas, the usual weeding and cutting down flower heads that have gone over. The orange Azaleas are in full flower, always getting comments from the visitors.

Warm sunny day, raining in Belfast, so Mount Stewart was the place to be.

Jill

Blooming marvelous!

Wednesday 21 May 2014

 Wisteria on the steps at Mount Stewart


Wisteria on the steps at Mount Stewart

Doreen and I pruned this wisteria in March, each growth down to two buds which always seems drastic. Phew! It is looking good.

Trailer loads of plants coming down from the nursery, hundreds of plants in pots being placed in every bed in all the gardens. We were planting in the Fountain Walk (between the Mairi Garden and the Dodo Terrace) – Digitalis Parviflora Milk Chocolate (red), Ferns Dicksonia Sellowiana, Euryops, with a yellow daisy like flower, Hypericum Magician Gold, pale gold leaves. Every corner we went around there were more plants begging to be planted and it is very tempting to stay on and work till dark and come back again the next day. We didn’t.

Jill

Everyone’s gone bananas!

Wednesday 7 May 2014

 This banana tree is being planted, in its 160 litre pot, in the Italian Garden.   It is kept in its pot so that it can be easily taken out and moved into the polytunnell at the nursery in October before the frost.  It doesn’t tolerate any frost.     It is purely ornamental and related to the true banana.  It needs rich soil, lots of water, full sun and lots of light and warmth.


This banana tree is being planted, in its 160 litre pot, in the Italian Garden. It is kept in its pot so that it can be easily taken out and moved into the poly tunnel at the nursery in October before the frost. It doesn’t tolerate any frost. It is purely ornamental and related to the true banana. It needs rich soil, lots of water, full sun and lots of light and warmth.

We were working in the Kiwi bed in the Lily Wood. This is one of the largest beds in the Lily Wood and six of us were doing the usual spring clear out, weeding, pruning, cutting back and raking. The blue Meconopsis had been divided and there will be an amazing show in a few weeks when they flower. Hundreds of Lilies, planted over the last two years, looking very healthy and will be worth going to look at.

Jill

New tools!

Wednesday 16 April 2014

 This may look quite ordinary but gosh what excitement.   This is the garden volunteers’ new stash of shiny, sharp tools essential for our perfectionist gardening.   Jonathan has been playing this close to his chest and we had no idea it was happening today.   We have edging shears, forks, spades, wheelbarrows, brushes (soft and hard!), rakes, and a bucket with trowel, fork and scratcher for each volunteer, all shiny and sparkly.    We are each responsible for any tools we take out and for washing all the tools before returning them.   It was nearly a shame to get them all dirty.


This may look quite ordinary but gosh what excitement. This is the garden volunteers’ new stash of shiny, sharp tools essential for our perfectionist gardening. Jonathan has been playing this close to his chest and we had no idea it was happening today. We have edging shears, forks, spades, wheelbarrows, brushes (soft and hard!), rakes, and a bucket with trowel, fork and scratcher for each volunteer, all shiny and sparkly. We are each responsible for any tools we take out and for washing all the tools before returning them. It was nearly a shame to get them all dirty.

However, we overcame this and used nearly all of the tools in the Italian Garden. The edging shears were a dream and there are sharp, straight lines around all the parterres (worth having a look at), hand forks and trowels used to clear weeds around the little hedges surrounding the parterres and scratchers used to clear up the whole lot. Spades and forks used for planting plants in the parterres, I think the only things not used were the brushes. Smooth running wheelbarrows with no squeaking. Very exciting day. Thanks to Jonathan for looking after us and getting all this amazing gear. We are very spoilt.

Jill