Here we are again back in lockdown but not to be deterred the garden club went ahead with the November 5th. meeting on zoom. This meeting had been postponed before so it was really good to go ahead with fourteen members joining .
Piers Horry from the National Trust property of Dyrham Park was our speaker for the evening on the history and development of the gardens. Piers has worked first as a ranger then a gardener at several National Trust properties including Hatchland Park and Hughenden in Buckenhamshire, previously a home of Benjamin Disraelli, but Piers didn’t start his work at Dyrham until March, two days before the first lockdown.
The Park is a Grade II* listed Baroque garden with formal lawns from the 17c. in those times this had to be cut with a scythe, no lawn mowers available then. Dyrham originally Doeham meaning Deer Park, first came into being in 1511 when given a charter by Henry VIII for a hunting park so the first house was a Tudor mansion. This was later taken over by William Blathwayt in 1686 who rebuilt the house and in 1689 an estate map and the garden emerged. Today we have a good idea how the garden looked as in 1710 Johannes Kip produced an engraving.
William Blathwayt was really a civil servant and diplomat who had worked in administration in the American colonies and the Hague eventually working for Willian III, ( William of Orange) When the garden at Dyrham was developed plants from America were introduced and lots of tulips also an orangery to represent his political leanings to the king. There were fountains and a cascade with 125 steps, a pool and plenty of tulips. Today the gardens are being restored but the work has changed because of Covid19. With no volunteers available the tulip bulbs have been left in the ground instead of lifted, hoping there will not be too much tulip blight as a result. To cut down on the weeding, it has been done in a selected way only removing those plants about to seed but leaving the border plants to self seed to save on replanting next year.
The finance of Dyrham has been hit by Covid but in the long term it is planned to return the West Parterre to the 17c. design. So all look forward to 2021 when hopefully life will be getting back to some sort of normal and the Garden club can have a visit to see for ourselves the work in progress. In the meantime keep safe and keep watch for the Edington and District Gardening Club to open its doors again.
Our December meeting on the 3rd. has yet to be decided, depending on the Covid situation .
The meeting in January is planned for the 7th. Via zoom with a talk from Wiltshire Wildlife on Hedgehogs in the garden.