Eleven members of PNTA were taken on a guided tour by Roddy Milne, Head Gardener at Picton Castle.
For twenty years there have been plans to restore the walled garden. After many written applications for funding sources, with ever changing criteria, Heritage Lottery Fund provided great support.
The pineapples on the entrance pillars are copies of the originals, but the aim overall was to avoid the structures appearing “new”.
Ecology has been respected. Creating holes in the walls has been rewarded by a pied flycatcher nest. In the yard beyond the fernery, where wilder areas were being reconstructed, reptiles were trapped and transferred to similar habitat elsewhere on the estate. Lizards need to be caught early in the day, before they have warmed up, otherwise they move too fast!
The present walled garden was always used for show and prestige. (Fruit and veg were grown in another walled garden, that is now outside the area controlled by the Picton Castle Trust.) The records of the plants grown rely heavily on flower competition certificates, featuring mainly chrysanthemums.
Now visitor numbers to Picton are increasing, enabling the appointment of more staff to the gardening team. The work of 6-8 volunteers on one day a week remains invaluable.
Some beds remain the same, particularly the rose borders, where the bushes have been carefully chosen for their ability to cope with the Pembrokeshire climate.
Other themed borders have been newly planted. The Mediterranean section had a five inch layer of sand spread across the surface, then dug in, to give excellent drainage.
On the outer side of the southern wall, a South African border has been created, featuring 30 varieties of agapanthus, in addition to red hot pokers et al.
Herbs have been moved to an area beyond northern wall, near the fernery. This zone has not yet been opened to visitors, but it will be used for education, with teaching rooms and information displays. The restored green house has an aluminium frame on a brick base, with excellent ventilation to avoid excessive temperatures.
Roddy was thanked for giving such an informative tour, and members were then free to enjoy lunch at Maria’s and explore more of the castle grounds.
Report by Andrew Weaver