At the start of this week I found myself in the Flower Garden one evening after work; the clouds that had been hanging over us for most of the day were now clearing to release soft streaks of warm, evening light across the garden which had the effect of invigorating the colours of tulips in the garden.
It was a lovely way to end a hard day – I had been helping to ferry large lumps of Sussex sandstone from a collapsed wall by a ditch in the lower part of the garden up to where it was needed to create edging for a new path being laid through the Wild Garden.
This kind of work is a massive undertaking and I struggle to imagine just how much work would have gone into laying the foundations of this garden by William Robinson when he first arrived. How many men would have been engaged in the levelling of the croquet lawn, or the building of stone walls and paths all over the garden?
More recently in the garden, a young man named Ash has been working for the best part of 3 months to complete this section of path where everything he is working with is heavy – the wet, Weald clay, the reclaimed York Stone Paving and Sussex Sandstone all have to be carried by hand across the site – no machinery involved here. I have helped him on a few occasions but cannot begin to imagine how he has had the strength and patience to steadily build this path, slab by heavy slab.
This week the path finally reached the top. There is still more work to do, the edging and the reseeding of the grass on either side but soon we will be left with a path that ascends from the corner of the Croquet Lawn up through the Wild Garden in an arc that passes underneath one of the greatest treasures in the garden, the Handkerchief Tree (Davidia involucrata var. vilmoriniana).
Walking this path will remind me of the hard work and perseverance that goes into all good things.
Words by Robert, photographs by Martin