Our Roving Reporter popped into the Rock Garden and conducted this interview:
Q. Hi Andy, would you tell me your job title?
A. Garden Manager, Rock Garden.
Q. Is it called the Rock Garden, the Rookery or the Rockery? Which is it?
A. It’s called the Rock Garden. The Rookery is the area in which the garden sits.
Q. How long have you worked as a member of park staff?
A. I joined in 1982 as a trainee. I completed my apprenticeship and worked in the nursery at Stanmer. I left for 5 years and rejoined 18 years ago – I’ve been in this post ever since.
Q. What is it you like about working here?
A. I like the chance to grow a fantastic range of plants from a variety of regions – and the chance to put my own stamp on the garden. And I enjoy working outside as a gardener. I remember I was on a garden design course at Plumpton College once, and my gaze kept drifting from the classroom towards the trees outside – that was where I wanted to be really. I hated being indoors!
Q. What are the things that frustrate you about the job?
A. Lack of respect for the garden from a minority. I see new planting trampled and unsupervised dogs creating havoc. At the moment, there are two ducks which are devastating the pond – they’re eating all the tadpoles and mini-beasts. It’s a real shame because those are the things that the kids like to see.
Q. What would you like to see for the future in the Rock Garden?
A. I’d like to see all the plants labelled. And to see the planting turn out exactly as I’d planned it! At the moment there are plans to re-do the area at the top of the wildflower bank: to take out some overgrown conifers and replace them with a more vibrant planting scheme. The scheme could include things like acers and possibly Italian cypresses.
Q. Do you have any help in the garden?
A. I have a team of up to 9 volunteers who are the icing on the cake in this garden – they really are fab! I also have occasional help from Community Payback teams, people from local businesses such as American Express plus occasional help from local colleges.
Q. What are you the most proud of in the garden Andy?
A. I’m most proud of the planting scheme that generates colour from February to November: bulbs, shrubs, herbaceous plants and trees all providing successive colour. Colour makes people happy!
Thank you Andy. Lots to see at the moment in the Rock Garden, especially good is the wildflower bank which is covered in cowslips. And the wildlife there is very rich. Make sure you say Hi to Andy.