You’d be smiling, too, if you were him! Each week, head gardener, Joe Anderson, wings me his report about the various goings-on in the gardens at Bodorgan. We have this system in place for a number of reasons - chief among them being incredibly relevant this week, when Joe delved into the family archive and came up with some gems from the garden’s history. More of that in a moment… But just to say that when you’ve got your mitts on a garden of this scale and importance, everything you do there adds a lovely layer to a history that stretches way back behind you. Which is why we keep a weekly record: Positive Potions is part of that story too, right here and now.
In fact, when we first started the renovation, we found one of my predecessor’s well-worn trowels, with her initials (incidentally now my own) on the handle (dating from around 1800); we also found her pince nez, bejewelled, indeed, and I like to think of her rummaging around in the borders as I am doing at the moment, putting the trowel aside to return to later – and forgetting. Sounds familiar? Or her glasses slipping off as she hoiked out a stubborn dandelion.. what did she do with the dandelion, I’d like to know? If it was me, I’d have munched the leaves and turned the roots into a Positive Potion!
Meanwhile back to the garden today, and a summary of what Joe Anderson has been doing this week: weeded the fruit patch in front of the apple wall; transplanted autumn raspberries to a more permanent bed opposite the figs and spread compost; planted a rubus groundcover under figs. Potted on yellow iris shoots and periwinkle; planted 600 sweet pea seeds, dandelions and oregano, and sieved the last of his aged compost pile to cover more of the pineapple house border. Sieved more compost to finish the pineapple house border, raspberries and outdoor grape wall. Worked on a draft budget proposal and interviewed a potential apprentice; helped Llyr unload some stock fencing and Harris fencing and erected a corral in the range for the deer.
Deer? Indeed, yes, some of our fallow deer escaped the other week and have been doing a brilliant job of strimming, weeding and mulching a large part of our walled garden. Thank you very much! Permaculture in action, and very effective they were, too. But when it was time for them to be returned to their fellow fallows (!), it was Joe’s job - with plenty of help - to turn cowboy and round ‘em up and take them home.
And as if that wasn’t enough – and I’m guessing this was unearthed while he was taking a breather from all the above, here’s a flavour of what he found in the archive – an article from the North Wales Chronicle, 1837, describing the Bodorgan gardens: ‘to attempt any description capable of giving an idea to the perfection which is wrought out in those gardens would be a fruitless effort …’
There’s a lot more like this - really blush-making stuff! I’ll post about these gems from the archive soon. Feeling so, so proud to be helping to bring this incredible garden back to life. And couldn’t be more excited that it’s the HQ of Positive Potions! Happy days indeed…