Thursday 11 October 2012

The HBGBS seminar - Arundel Castle

On Saturday we visited Arundel Castle. It is one of the oldest & complete castles in the country and has a lot of heritage, including Mary Queen of Scots diary. The Duke of Norfolk and his family resides here. Initially it seemed like quite a traditional restoration as we were shown their newly restored stew pond, but as Martin Duncan guided us through the grounds, it became more and more out of the ordinary.

This is one of the bridges leading inside the castle walls which the duke came racing out in his car like James Bond. They have had trouble mowing and strimming the steep banks (not a surprise as they were meant for keeping people out), so now they ingeniously have goats to keep the grass trim.

This is technically the Dukes back garden which has a hint of The Hanging Gardens of Babylon. The lollipop trees are clipped Quercus ilex - Holm Oak.
As we went into The Collector's Earl garden this was even more the case. The castle & land has been within the Dukes family for 400 years. Thomas Howard was one of the first Earls and was nicknamed 'The Collector' because of the amount of art he acquired. This garden is dedicated to him and is an imaginary recreation of a Jacobean formal garden designed by Isabel & Julian Bannerman.

Equipped with golden agaves, water spouting dachshunds and a 'floating crown'.

We were also given a tour of the more conventional side of the kitchen gardens & victorian glasshouses, that uses permaculture principles and supplies the family.

Later in the day and on Sunday we had a Q & A session on challenges in the garden with an expert panel - from dog poo to mess room politics, and advice on grants & resources available.

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