Wednesday, 29 April 2009

Kenilworth Castle Elizabethan Gardens

For the past four weeks, I've been up at the Castle, one day a week, helping to get the new Elizabethan Garden in order ready for its official opening this week. I had originally volunteered over a year ago, and was delighted when I heard from them in March. Working alongside another garden volunteer: Julie, has been fun. We have a lot of laughs and get on well, and have now arranged a day when we can both go, and work together. This is Julie sat on an oak bench on one of the paths. A lady of leisure rather like myself, she is a trained gardener, who also volunteers one day a week at a National Trust House. Julie works one day a week at present for paying customers.

There are a large variety of plants in the sections but we both agree that the real stars will probably be overlooked: the self seeded wall flowers growing wild on the Castle Walls.

The first week, when the fountain was being built, we were asked not to take any pictures. As we worked we also watched the carvers putting the final touches to the various scenes carved into the white Carrera Marble.

Yesterday however I took some, as that very evening, Kenilworth residents were being invited to view the gardens. I've helped to weed the beds, dead head the hundreds of thrifts which edge some of the beds, and hoe the sand and gravel paths. Yesterday it was all hands to the deck with workers from other English Heritage sites coming over to help. I know that Fiona, the Head Gardener will be delighted with the way the garden is looking for all the visitors this week.

Yesterday was the day that Kenilworth residents were invited to view the gardens. I did right to reserve a place as the event was well over subscribed. We dressed for the occassion, smartly as one does in Kenilworth, and I enjoyed meeting some friends and introducing David to them. After the welcome drink and canapes, the crowds descended into the garden, which looked fabulous with the flowers glowing in the evening light. The team must have worked like the clappers after I had left, as the beds and paths looked spotless. It was also the first time I had seen the fountain working . The carvings are excellent and hopefully English Heritage will soon publish a guide explaining the various panels.
Earlier in the day the Guinea Fowl were making quite a racket, but they seemed to be much more quiet during the evening. The pheasants were strutting their stuff and the canaries I think were settled in for the evening. I think they sensed that soon the crowds would be leaving as heavy and dark clouds amassed and like many, we made a quick dash home after only 15 minutes or so in the garden. The Aviary is quite stunning, with its jewels set just under the roof, and its fine mesh, knitted, yes, looks like garter stitch in fine steel. At least no one will be able to poke fingers or anything else and worry the birds.

With the wonderful wide paths, I was amazed at the number of people who walked on the narrow grass edgings, which had been so very carefully groomed. I think they will have to put some Keep off the Grass Signs.

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