It’s #NationalGardeningWeek so we sat down with our Senior Gardener India Sida-Murray to chat all things gardens, from top tips to first memories.
What’s your favourite garden at Harewood ?
My favourite part of the garden has got to the Walled Garden because I spend so much of my time there. There are so many parts of it to explore and every season brings a new delight to see. We have delicate snake’s-head fritillary (Fritillaria meleagris) coming up in the orchard at the moment and the new-season hop shoots are making an appearance. There’s radish going in the vegetable plots and wild flower seeds germinating in the meadow. It is teaming with spring growth and I cannot wait to see it all verdant and buzzing again.
What’s your favourite time of year in the gardens ?
That’s a difficult one for a gardener because every new season is my favourite. The excitement of spring with the waft of fresh green growth in the chilly morning air, which warms during the day to newly mown grass. The abundance of summer brings gluts to vegetables and luscious full buckets of flowers. The soil is teaming with activity and the garden is full of visitors. Late summer into Autumn has such a romantic feel here. We enjoy the last of the vibrant colours as the garden comes to a magnificent crescendo. The final flourish of glowing Autumn tones reflects over the lake as if it is on fire and the migrating birds dance upon it before their final flight. Winter, most surprisingly, is our busiest time as a team. We work hard to prepare the garden for the coming year and many hours are spent reflecting and plotting for the future. While the garden sleeps we are full of excitement and anticipation, in the hopes that our careful planning and ambitions for the next season come to fruition.
What’s the best gardening tip you’ve ever received ?
You can’t grow everything all at once. It is very tempting to order everything in the catalogue you want to grow and get overwhelmed. Choose a few new things each year so you can spend the time really looking and understanding your new plants, as well as feeling confident at the ones you have already mastered. This is how you develop your craft; observation, patience and practice.
What are your first memories of gardening?
My parents took us to Osborne House on the Isle of Wight every year when I was small. Queen Victoria had nine children and each one had their own vegetable plot and set of tools with their initials engraved. I also come from a big family and this was so thrilling to me as a child. I have fond memories of my mother lifting our big perambulator onto the horse and cart that took you down to Swiss Cottage and the children’s gardens there. I was lucky enough to eventually work at Osborne and the feeling of excitement and kinship never wore off.
What advice would you give to a new gardener?
Keep going. If seeds don’t germinate, sow again. If a plant is sulking in a particular spot, then move it. If the rabbits eat it all, try another tact. So much of being a gardener and in fact gardening itself is about promise. It’s making plans for future days, for a future you, for a future garden. Don’t be put off by failures, just keep going and eventually you will look back and be amazed by what you have accomplished.