You may have noticed that it has been raining more or less non-stop. This greatly hampered work in the gardens – especially with the continuous drying of clothes. One solution would have to been for us to work naked but this would not have been an attractive proposition for visitors!
In spite of the above, the lawns have been mown and the various areas of planting have been maintained and improved. Contractors mow the main lawns but grass areas associated with the detailed parts of the garden – Rock Garden, Long Garden and Walled Kitchen Garden – are mown more frequently by volunteers. Keeping up with the rapid growth of weeds has nevertheless been a challenge, particularly on the southern lower Terrace where they grew to a great height. However, these have been removed and grass has been sown.
In the Walled Kitchen Garden we have started reconstruction of one of the paths (see photo) and cleared two other paths of grass. We have also constructed three long beds adjacent to these perimeter paths. The request for £800 in the last Wish List to purchase coldframes was met with a donation for that amount. We were very grateful and frames have been purchased. Due to the rain, produce has grown rapidly and has been harvested and sold.
Other garden features have been receiving careful attention: namely, the circular room made out of Philadelphus on the lower great lawn, the area around the sundial (northwest of the Terraces) and the Terraces themselves.
It will be noticed that the archaeologists, apart from digging on the site of the earlier mansions, are gradually digging up the lower great lawn. However, their investigations are very beneficial to our project as they give more and more understanding of the previous formal gardens. Each location for digging is determined by the findings of a radar survey. Paths have been uncovered associated with the earlier formal gardens for the Elizabethan mansion. All this is photographed and measured. If there are remains of key features – such as the foundations of fountains – then we would like to find a way of permanently revealing them but the problem is always one of deterioration once remains are exposed.
Apart from the use of contractors for the heaviest work, the gardens are restored and maintained by a core of about 10-20 volunteers. It seems to us that, if one wants to be a garden volunteer, there could be no be1er place to give one’s time than at Copped Hall. There are a number of reasons for saying this – first, the gardens are very beautiful and varied; second, there are many other interesting activities going on – such as archaeology, concerts, Shakespearian plays, study days, mansion restoration, open days, etc.; third, the volunteers are a lively lot; fourth, there are all the home-made cakes and biscuits plus organic produce to buy from the Walled Kitchen Garden.
With that being the case, we would like to appeal for more garden volunteers. If you are interested please telephone 020 7267 1679.