IN THE COMMUNITY: California Gardeners’ Club

Picture: Mabel Amber, still incognito... from Pixabay

At our May meeting Mark Dodd came to tell us about Wellington College.

The grounds are very large, covering 404 acres or 163 hectares. Apart from the gardens and quads, there is a golf course, sports grounds, a lake, bog areas, heathland, an SSSI, and many trees. Six hundred trees have been surveyed, including 95 oak trees and £35,000 per annum is spent on tree management.

The six gardeners must keep the gardens looking good all the year round as there are various open days which many visitors attend. Where marquees are erected the grass gets damaged and has to be repaired, also 9,000 new plants are needed every year.

They calculated that each gardener walks over 14 miles a day!

They have an ex-Chelsea Garden themed on Waterloo which was sponsored, and cost around £750,000 to make and move. It has some old trees from Belgium and 52,000 plants. To get it all done many parents, pupils and other volunteers helped.

There are 10 or 12 acres of heathland, where there are Dartford warblers, nightjars, woodcock and hobby.

Muntjac and Roe deer occur, though the latter can cause trouble, once eating £4,000 worth of plants in one night. All three species of snake are found, and many slow worms have been relocated to the heathland. Recently 140 birdboxes, hedgehog houses and many insect houses have been added.

The lake is very healthy with many species of birds and fish, including large pike and carp. Both common and American Signal crayfish occur, though the Signal ones are trapped regularly.

Our next meeting will be on Monday, June 3 when John Negus will help us with growing fruit.

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