Head Gardeners past and present at CPRE AGM
Fending off pineapple thieves; cosseting ripe peaches on cross-country steam trains: a Head Gardener's job has never been dull, according to Sam Youd, who has been in the top job at Tatton Park for many years. In an amusing and informative talk, Sam outlined the career path of the gardeners of yesteryear, from humble garden boy to the very top, in the years when the day began with boot inspection at 7am, and the Head Gardener was 'Sir' to his staff.
Among other things, we learned that pineapples, grown at Tatton from the 1740s, were so valued for their exotic rarity - they fruit every third year - that each was worth the equivalent of £5,000, and a gardener carrying a pineapple be shown off at his employer's London house was likely to be ambushed and relieved of his prickly prize.
Sam stressed that great gardens like Tatton, and to some extent all established gardens, are 'living family history', shaped by the tastes, passions and ambitions of generations of owners, and conserving that history is a tremendous task today.
CPRE often points out that our countryside, gardens and urban open spaces are vital to our well-being. and modern research is only now proving the health benefits of getting closer to nature, yet Sam explained that this has long been accepted and acknowledged among gardeners, and that in the past, those who suffered from 'nervous complaints' were often encouraged to take up gardening as a career or hobby.
A very enjoyable evening was rounded off with our annual fundraising raffle, with prizes generously donated by businesses in Cheshire and south Manchester.
Pictures show some of the lucky winners.