The rose garden is revealing its secrets, each layer peeled back brings more excitement. We knew the path was still there but to what extent and in what state we didn't know. Often old paths suffer from the cold, frosts crack stone, flake it to the point of no return but with each shovel load taken away, each sweep of the brush, more and more of the Edwardian stone work is revealed. We're happy to say that Fryer's Roses are supporting us in this project and we have extensive plans to renovate the whole of this area over the coming months but by the end of June we have a firm eye fixed on this rose garden.
After many hours, and many hands, a copse is starting to be cleared and the bare bones of the rose garden are revealed. We now have to have meetings with the conservation officer from the council to advise us what we can, and can't do, and whether we can go beyond the fence and integrate these two areas once more.
So, how did the students do this? Bow saws and pruning saws came to the fore, we looked at the safe use of such saws and tested the soil. It's still alkaline and we'll be bringing in plenty of manure soon. Students collected pea sticks for growing peas in the polytunnel. It's probably been eighty years since pea sticks were cut in this garden. Pea sticks largely died out after the Great War - so many didn't come back and such large gardens became unfeasible to run - by the Second World War the act of pea stick cutting was on its way out and by the mid-1960s it was pretty much over. For those of you unaware of pea sticks they are simply the top growth of trees, the whippy bits, the arching branches, a riot of stems, sticks and buds. These are driven into the ground by the growing peas and the peas romp up them, hazel being their favourite pea stick, often the pea sticks grow too but by June the peas have won and the sticks are dead. Students are even cutting canes, bundled up and ready for the vegetable plot. The Lone Ranger will cut these to size during the week, as he works his way towards his 3400 hours to be considered for Kew. Maybe if he has time, and we all have time, we could even pay homage to the past of this wonderful but lost garden. It is the students driving the work on this garden and without them this garden would remain buried.