May Lambs, Early Tomatoes, Cream Teas and Smiles.

Dancing around the MayPole may be the tradition of old, reserved for Village Fairs and Country Fete’s but in reality, May for the talented Gardener will certainly have you in a spin.

There’s definitely lot’s to smile about in May, the promise of warmer weather to come and not to mention the Tulips that are a glorious triumphant end to a season of Spring bulbs.

Lily of the valley (Convallaria majalis) takes centre stage as does the aptly named May Flower (Crataegus monogyna) . In May, we recognise the  Wildlife and our own cherished pets so it seems only fitting that that I take the opportunity to introduce to five rather proud ladies as they bring new life into the World.

A crescendo of a season spent grazing and generally little else our flock of Texel ewes also have something to smile about as they start the month of May with newborn lambs.

Sleepless nights aside the arrival of newborn lambs will always remind me of my misspent youth and many happy hours spent with our own flock of Welsh hillside ewes.

Now as I age rather quickly, I might add towards the big 50. I’m finding my life has me spinning in other directions. Farming was quickly replaced at the age of 16 for Horticulture  a switch I have never once regretted and now as an Estate manager, I find myself utilising both skill sets.

Had I realised the magnitude of the profession I have undertaken I may have been wary, giving the prospect much thought and planning is my forte and serves me well.  Having to be organised, structured and invest in my team, well retail fortunately helped me out and put me in good stead for this type of investment.

Growing masses of produce from our acre Kitchen garden, however, has opened my eyes to a whole new World of horticulture that I was yet to undertake. Boy what a World I had been missing out on. 
Providing for a busy family, friends and relatives, fresh seed raised seasonal vegetables on a regular basis has been one of the most rewarding aspects of my career, of which there are many.

Selling surplus produce and plants enable’s me to dabble in the retail side of my career that funnily enough furnished me with the skill set I needed to complete my job as Estate Manager.

Early Tomatoes sold locally in the tiny Hamlet of Ayot St Lawrence, has not only allowed me to connect with residents and visitors to the idyllic countryside village in Hertfordshire but it has also ignited in me and the team a passion for growing even more fresh fruit, herbs and vegetables for our captive audience.

Leading us nicely to the climax of the previous 12 months and way to out with a bang! Our National Garden Scheme Open Day, kindly hosted by the owners. Is a rare opportunity to see behind the black wrought iron gates and into a whole new World of well frankly perfection.

Keen Gardeners and Garden lovers are cordially invited to attend a Garden party like no other, Tagged as the largest  and busiest Open Gardens in Hertfordshire you are welcome to visit (for one day only)  a 6-acre  prestigious Garden manicured and preened to within a blade of grass and weed free borders.

Behind the scenes, this takes some planning with close to 1000’s visitors through our stylish Peacock gates in a 6 hour period. Our lawns, our stress levels and our tea urn’s sure do take a battering. The staff provide their time free of charge, the local’s rally round making homemade cakes.

The tents are erected the plants are displayed, our huge range of Jams, Chutney, Mustards and Sauces are laid out in wicker baskets filled with straw for that countryside attraction. Preserves I might add that are made using the produce grown in our very own kitchen garden by an incredibly talented Kitchen Garden Supervisor.

NGS Open Day 2016

On the morning of May 22nd you can be sure the kettle is on, the cream teas are chilling, the cider is on ice and the cakes are flooding in from well-wishers. I get an incredibly warm feeling from the anticipation and build up towards such an event and although my team and I work ourselves to the bone. I must say it is an incredible opportunity to see the Garden at it’s very best, filled with appreciative guests who are in awe of all the hard work and devotion that goes into such an event.

At this point I must thank the owners and all the people involved in pulling off such an amazing event in the name of Charity, the NGS do a sterling job of providing the tools necessary to host, promote and raise funds for some incredibly deserving charities.

Particular close to my heart this fundraising event has for many years raised much-needed cash for charities like Cancer research, Children’s foundation and Parkinson’s.

A personal note and one I hope that will make you want to put this date in your diary this year and every year to come. My darling Husband was recently diagnosed with Parkinsons disease at a very early age, he like far too many others fights this debilitating disease on a daily basis. Many of you reading this will know of a friend, a family member or a neighbour who battles with an illness, a disease a life less fortunate than our own.

So here I am laying down the gauntlet I’m no longer asking I’m telling you to take a break away from all-consuming everyday life and do something amazing for others! Go visit a National Garden Scheme, Open Gardens near you!

Even better come visit ours on May 22nd and please do share this article that I have lovingly written with tears in my eyes and love in my heart. For one, for all for a passion instilled in me for the love of Gardens, Nature and Wildlife and an appreciation for all the amazing mentors in my live past and future, plus an incredible opportunity to fulfil my dreams.

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About Head Gardener 290 Articles
Award winning, 40 something year old professional plantsman and horticulturalist with National Trust, private parks and estate management background. My vast plant knowledge and hands on techinical experience, afforded me the opportunity to work in various horticultural landscapes, in the UK, USA & Eastern Europe. Having worked in both garden retail & the design service industry gave me the practical diversity and managerial skill set, required for running a large prestigious gardens and stately homes. I strongly believe knowledge is to be shared and have worked closely with people and staff of all ages and abilities keen to develop their passion for gardening, including groups of children, special needs and adults. I have hosted guided walks, talks and tours for those keen to learn about cultivated and wild plants, garden development, history and design. As an member of the NNCPG and National Trust, I am actively involved in the preservation of several important plant collections both in public and private gardens throughout the UK. “It’s a beautiful thing when a career and a passion grow together, in a garden it’s paradise” Follow @IGrowHort on GardenTags. Stephen is passionate about gardening as Head Gardener with a team of ten staff he manages a prestigious Cheshire country estate of 55 acres, inc wild flower meadows, woodland, organic kitchen and formal gardens. Follow Stephen today”

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