Monday, 2 November 2015

Garden Academy - October (Part 2)

The second stage of my Garden Academy week introduced two very different gardens, both of historical importance, and both very different to the Winterbourne estate.

Firstly, we were introduced to Greenacre.  BBC Gardeners World moved in to this former playing field between 2008 and 2009 with ambitions of basing a long term series there.  The nurseryman and gardener Toby Buckland was lined up as presenter.  Within two years however, falling ratings prompted the BBC to make changes and they moved out of town, axeing Toby in favour of Monty Don and his Herefordshire garden.  The state that had befallen Greenacre was reported in 2011 by the Daily Mail, who found the garden "Abandoned".  Though several groups have visited and made their mark in the proceeding years.  It was an eerie scene that greeted the Garden Academy in 2015.

We were put to work at Greenacre clearing the small garden plots of rubbish, overgrowth and animal corpses (!).  The RHS training was put into immediate practice through single digging, cultivation and tool maintenance under the watchful eye of our teacher, Helen.  We will be returning to these gardens throughout our course, and perhaps we will play some small part in returning them to their former glory.  Perhaps they shall be returned to the community as a vibrant, living resource.  Hopefully the pictures below indicate the condition of Greenacre we encountered, and some of the work we carried out.

After two days of practical horticulture at Greenacre, we moved on to the incredible Birmingham Botanical Gardens for the next stage of our learning.  First opened to the public in 1832, the botanical gardens include a Japanese garden and the National Bonsai Collection.  The gardens are a tourist attraction and educational charity.  With 15 acres of landscaped grounds and Victorian glasshouses, just minutes from the city centre.  What better surroundings to study propagation and how to take cuttings.  We have the pleasure returning to the study centre here several times over forthcoming months.

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