Well, you do, don’t you? It’s that time of year when you start to look through seed catalogues and imagine crops growing in hot sunshine, and how they will taste when you harvest them. My job’s a bit bigger than most suburban gardeners this year however, as I’m working on a planting list for some of the beds we’ve opened up within the Amisfield Walled Garden near Haddington, and ‘we’ are the volunteers from the Amisfield Preservation Trust. The Garden, originally built in 1783, has had a number of uses since the end of the First World War. The latest was as a tree nursery, but it’s been neglected for many years. The Trust is trying to restore it as a garden, and to develop it for community uses and as a visitor attraction. Our winter work has resulted in clearing scrub and weeds from the warmest side of the garden, and we now have a large area ready for planting. We’ve decided to establish some beds as a kitchen garden, and to grow some of the vegetable varieties that might well have been grown in Victorian times. Of course, I’ve seen Heligan, and I know that with our tiny resources of money and volunteers we can’t hope to emulate that garden in a short time – the Amisfield Garden is 7½ acres after all – but we have to start somewhere.
We’ll be planting heritage potatoes in two of the beds. There’s a specialist supplier in Auchtermuchty who has some interesting old varieties. In the other two we’ll be planting the rest of the veg. Beans, peas, carrots, turnip, cabbage etc will be Victorian varieties where possible, but we’ve got the room to grow some big stuff too – globe artichokes, cardoons, pumpkins and marrows. There’s any amount of pea sticks and bean poles available, and we can start to recycle the products of neglect.
After months of cutting things down, it’s great to be able to think about planting and growing things, and this dank dreary time of year takes on a brighter side. All gardeners are optimists – we have to be.
After posting this, it occurred that a photo might put the place in perspective. So there it is. I may put some more Amisfield on a website later.
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