Our great houses and museums have devised a quirky contest that will allows four gardening enthusiasts to dig deeper into heritage and history, working with the gardeners who manage the grounds of four wonderful Cumbrian heritage attractions.
Each winning Culture Mulcher will be assigned to one of four heritage gardens, where they will work with the attraction’s resident gardener or volunteer and enjoy an amazing behind-the-scenes gardening experience.
All four participating gardens – Holker (Cark-in-Cartmel), Holehird Gardens (overlooking Windermere), Askham Hall (near Penrith) and Brockhole, the Lake District Visitor Centre (on the shores of Windermere), offer something different, so entrants should decide which most appeals to them and then create a blooming great entry.
To throw your gardening hat into the ring, state in less than 70 words which experience you would like to win, and why. Closing date 1 February 2018.
At Holker, the winning Culture Mulcher will work with gardener Glyn Sherratt. The grand garden under his control is full of colour and interest around every corner and whilst impressive in its grandeur, maintains a family feel. It also contains talking points in the form of the 400-year-old Holker Great Lime, a National Collection of Styracaceae and a labyrinth inspired by a Hindu temple.
Holehird Gardens is Britain’s only wholly volunteer-run garden, maintained by around 70 passionate individuals with a variety of knowledge and expertise. Everyone makes a contribution and any volunteer would be delighted to take the winning Culture Mulcher under their wing. The winner will work within a particular area, such as the rock garden, herbaceous borders in the Walled Garden, maples and azaleas in the Woodland Walk or Alpines and will be able to tour the extensively labelled beds with guidance from Holehird’s Garden Co-ordinator, Graeme Johnson. They should also get time to see the four National Plant Collections at this 17-acre garden, as well as the spectacular Handkerchief tree.
At Askham Hall, the head gardener awaiting his winning Culture Mulcher is Colin Myers, who has made Askham’s gorgeous terraces and herbaceous borders his labour of love for the past 10 years. The gardens are Grade II-listed and date back to the late 17th century, but much of today’s planting and design is the inspiration of owner Caroline, Countess of Lonsdale. Here, the winning Culture Mulcher will be engaged in foraging activities, choosing fresh herbs, edible flowers, berries, vegetables, salad and micro-shoots, with the assistance of head chef, Richard Swale, from the gardens and polytunnel. They should also be able to appreciate why Askham’s emblem is an allium.
And finally, at Brockhole, the triumphant Culture Mulcher will work with gardeners Iain Turnbull and Sue Preston-Jones, who have 2 and 15 years’ experience at Brockhole respectively, in what is a plant lover’s paradise. They will be able to weed, prune and perhaps plant, in the micro-climate that this lovely Thomas Mawson-designed garden enjoys, as well as taking in views of Windermere and the Langdale Valley. As long as they stay away from the temptations of zip-wire and kayaks, they should have a fabulous day!
Four winners will then be chosen and contacted by Cumbria’s Living Heritage. Winners will need to make their own arrangements regarding travel and accommodation, if they require this. (If, for any reason, the winner cannot take up the experience, it will be offered to the next best entry.)
All experiences will be scheduled for Spring 2018, with some flexibility to suit the winning individual’s exact choice of dates.