May 9, 2019Meet Anne, Broadhembury’s Gardener!
Anne, tell us a little bit about how and when you first started working at Broadhembury?
Broadhembury has been part of my life on and off for over 30 years. In 2016 I did not have a garden which frustrated me and I could see that I could be of help to Sally and Lee so offered to do a bit of gardening in return for a cake or two occasionally! This developed into taking care of the hanging baskets and tubs around the site. I also have a small nursery area and two greenhouses in my garden where I can raise plants and get things prepared.
Can you tell us about the different work you do at the park?
I am responsible for growing plants for and maintaining the hanging baskets and tubs at Reception, the tubs across the site and the herb planters. This year I am responsible for the 50thAnniversary bed and the planting of yellow themed tubs and baskets. This has involved growing a lot more plants from seed, such as the sunflowers. I usually come to site once a week in the season and occasionally out of season. I try to make sure that the summer baskets and tubs are complete by the second May Bank holiday and the winter / spring displays are in situ by the time the clocks go back in October.
At the beginning of my season a lot of preparation is done at home – such as planting up the baskets and pots for the tubs. The winter / spring baskets are planted up in September then are left outside behind my greenhouses until the tips of the bulbs are showing and then get taken to site about March 1st. The plug plants for the summer baskets usually arrive in early March so they are ‘grown on’ on my heated bench in the greenhouse. The summer baskets and tubs / pots are planted up in late March / early April and remain in the greenhouses until mid May and then they are ‘hardened off’ outside…See pictures below…
‘Hardening off’ the baskets…
Once the job of raising the plants and growing on the baskets and tubs has been done they are all brought to site and swopped over with the previous season’s baskets and tubs. I then take the old season baskets and pots back home to be rejuvenated for the next year. I prepare big pots, which drop into the metal tubs at Reception, which makes life easier. So a lot of the preparation work is done off site.
Tell us about a typical day for you when at the park?
I usually arrive by 9 o’clock and the first thing I do is to check the hanging baskets and tubs at Reception. This involves watering and dead heading / tidying and in the summer from about July onwards weekly feeding. As I tidy them I soak them in water with feed then re –hang. I do this with all the tubs and baskets and planting of new plants in situ on the Main Site side. Then I do the same at the Hollies and with the half barrels facing the gate on the static side of the site. I will also plant and maintain new plants in some beds such as next to Reception and check that the herbs are all thriving. It takes me approximately an hour each side but this can take longer in the summer when the baskets need more attention! Whenever necessary I empty and re-plant tubs around the site either with purchased plants or with ones I have raised or a combination of the two.
What are your biggest challenges?
Timing, weather and watering! Timing the plants to be ready and growing on well for the summer baskets is a challenge if I am growing them myself such as for the 50thAnniversary baskets. Planning ahead in 2018 by working out how many weeks it takes for daffoldils to complete their growth to come into flower at the right time for the 50thAnniversary celebration day was a particular challenge and I was very relieved the weather ‘played ball’ – or maybe it was just my skill – I don’t know! If I get the plants commercially timing is not such a problem but is obviously a lot more expensive! The weather can be a challenge too. For example, this year I had just put out the hanging baskets to ‘harden off’ on my rose walk and the temperature plummeted and they were doused in hail stones!! So back into the greenhouse they went! The long hot summer of 2018 was a big challenge because the year had started with unusually cold weather followed by ‘stonking’ hot dry weather, so things were very slow to get going, then roasted in the sun!
Do you have a favourite area of the park?
I don’t have a favourite area – I feel very much at home on site – I love the quiet season when the birds are nesting and singing – great to hear the cuckoo that hails the beginning of spring. I really feel proud of how Reception looks when the baskets are in full bloom. Very satisfying and worth the work. I love the buzz of the high season and people being very appreciative. I also get a ‘kick’ from trying to achieve what I think a 5* site should look like.
How much time do you spend at the park?
Usually 2/3 hours per week in the growing season.
What is your favourite time of the year there?
It has to be spring and early summer when everything has burst into life again after the ‘long sleep’.
Why is Broadhembury somewhere people should visit?
It is somewhere you can escape from the pressures of everyday life but at the same time remain connected to the rest of the world!
How would you describe Broadhembury to someone?
Relaxed outdoor living with a little bit of luxury!