This weekend there were 23 volunteers in the garden on both Saturday and Sunday. Most of the volunteers were students or gardeners from Kew, Wisley, Cambridge, and the Chelsea Physic gardens and the five Great Dixter students, including myself, joined in the fun. My team built this lovely wood pile and I felt at home in this project as it reminded me of all our New England wood piles. The volunteer weekend was a real chance for other gardeners to get a glimpse at some of the things that set Great Dixter apart from other gardens. One of those things is the fact that overall Great Dixter is a very sustainable system. Not only do they run their own nursery and start nearly all plants from seed or cuttings, and literally make their own potting soil by digging turf, letting it sit for 7 years, sifting it, sterlizing in a crazy burning machine, and hand mixing it with other ingredients, but they also make everything out of wood harvested in their woodlot. And I mean everything. They harvest chestnut trees, cut them into poles, and then while they are green they shave the bark, hand split the poles to make wooden fences, plant stakes, large plant labels, soil boxes, apples crates, etc. The gardeners themselves do some of this work and so during the volunteer weekend we all had a go!
A very tidy pea stake pile. The weight on top helps keep the branches flat, which makes it easier for staking.
A volunteer splitting the chestnut
Volunteers shaving the chestnut bark
Even the horse to sit and shave the chestnut was made by the Great Dixter staff!