Scots Pine tops the tree charts to become tallest in the UK

A Scots pine at the National Trust’s Cragside in Northumberland has officially become the tallest native conifer in the UK and the 200,000th record on the Tree Register of Britain and Ireland.

Measuring 40 metres tall – the same height as 10 London double-decker buses stacked on top of each other – the conifer is Cragside’s fifth champion tree. Continue reading

Biddulph Grange Garden – a starring role in this week’s British Gardens in Time

Biddulph Grange in Staffordshire takes the lead role this evening in episode three of BBC Four’s British Gardens in Time.

General Manager, Paul Walton said: “We weren’t sure what to expect when the film crew first arrived, although the sense of anticipation was huge! Needless to say, all staff and volunteers have had an amazing time over the last 12 months.

Filming at Biddulph Grange garden

Filming at Biddulph Grange garden

“The filming began at the very beginning of 2013 on a freezing cold, frosty morning with Stourhead’s Alan Power who’d come to see our collection of mature trees. It was lovely to see his enthusiasm and love of trees spill over as he walked through the Pinetum – especially when he couldn’t help hugging a Monkey Puzzle! Continue reading

The ‘Power’ of gardens

Alan Power, our head gardener at Stourhead is one of three presenters of the BBC Four series, British Gardens in Time. The four part series – which started last week – looks in-depth at four iconic British landscape gardens – Great Dixter, Stowe, Biddulph Grange and Nymans.

Last night’s programme featured Stowe in Buckinghamshire.

The south vista at Stowe. Credit NT Images

The south vista at Stowe. Credit NT Images

Here he reflects on the filming of the series, which he co-presents with garden historian Andrea Wulf and garden designer, Chris Beardshaw.

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National Trust garden gems to feature in new BBC Four series

Three National Trust gardens are set to feature in a new BBC Four series uncovering the rich social and horticultural history of four British heritage landscapes with the first episode airing tonight at 9pm.

The four-part series, British Gardens in Time, explores the grand Georgian landscape at Stowe in Buckinghamshire (NT), Biddulph Grange, a superb example of a Victorian garden in Staffordshire (NT), the romantic turn-of-the-century Nymans in West Sussex (NT) and Christopher Lloyd’s dazzling 20th century garden, Great Dixter in East Sussex which is privately-run.

New series British Gardens in Time starts tonight on BBC Four at 9pm

New series British Gardens in Time starts tonight on BBC Four at 9pm

Continue reading

National Trust garden gems to feature in new BBC 4 series

Three National Trust gardens are set to feature in a new BBC 4 series uncovering the rich social and horticultural history of four British heritage landscapes in April.

The Parterre at Biddulph Grange Garden. Credit Stephen Robson

The Parterre at Biddulph Grange Garden. Credit Stephen Robson

The four-part series, British Gardens in Time, explores the grand Georgian landscape at Stowe in Buckinghamshire (NT), Biddulph Grange, a superb example of a Victorian garden in Staffordshire (NT), the romantic turn-of-the-century Nymans in West Sussex (NT) and Christopher Lloyd’s dazzling 20th century garden, Great Dixter in East Sussex which is privately-run. Continue reading

Alan Power sets off on a motorbike tour of historic Gardens

With his trusty 1958 Norton motorcycle and a passion for historic gardens, Stourhead’s head gardener is setting off for a three month tour of some of the best gardens of England, Ireland and Wales.

Alan Power, Head Gardener at Stourhead, Wiltshire.

Alan Power, Head Gardener at Stourhead, Wiltshire.

Well known for his expertise and love of the landscape garden which makes Stourhead world famous, Alan is keen to see and learn more about some of the other great gardens and has taken time off from his beloved Stourhead to fulfil his ambition. Also a motorbike enthusiast, he is using his classic Norton racing bike for the trip – as well as his more modern BMW S1000R. The aim of the trip is to see – and learn from – some of the many great historic gardens in the British Isles, and bring back ideas for the National Trust’s garden at Stourhead. Alan commented:

“There are so many wonderful places out there, and marvellous people looking after them,”

 

“I never have time to explore other gardens in the way that I would like to, just to see what they are and enjoy discovering something. Often we go to places with an agenda but this time I am planning to just arrive, have a good coffee in the restaurant and a wander round and discover things.

 

“I still love the reaction that I get when I walk into Stourhead so it would be good to see what reactions can be found in other historic gardens, learn how they came into being and see if there are any tips and lessons I can pick up to bring back to Stourhead.”

 Alan doesn’t intend to be alone on his trip. He is hoping to be followed by some of the many fans of Stourhead by recording his travels on twitter on @alanstourhead and also on the National Trust Stourhead Facebook page. He hopes to post photos and even some short videos of his adventure. He will also spend a little time filming a garden series for the BBC.

As well as picking up some gardening tips, followers will also be able to share his love of motorbikes. A trip to the National Trust’s Stowe landscape garden may just include a diversion to nearby Silverstone with a chance to take a track bike around Stowe corner.

Pride of place. Alan's 1958 Norton and BMW S1000R

Pride of place. Alan’s 1958 Norton and BMW S1000R

National Trust to debut new Wallace & Gromit animation over Jubilee Weekend

The National Trust has launched a campaign today teaming up with national treasures Wallace and Gromit to help lead the country’s Diamond Jubilee celebrations.

A weekend of over 70 Jubilee tea parties will be held across the country where the loveable duo’s new mini animation will be shown for the first time ever at Trust places.  The funny flick has been specially created for the National Trust festivities as part of their Summer of Celebration campaign and shows the pair preparing for the big weekend, by scaling the ladders to hoist the bunting up around a magnificent Trust manor.

The green grass carpet will be rolled out for the mini animation – A Jubilee Bunt-a-thon – and a behind the scenes documentary, which are to be exclusively screened at the Trust’s Jubilee parties. Their films have already met with the royal seal of approval with Camilla declaring that Wallace and Gromit are Prince Charles’ “favourite people in the world”.

The one-minute animation begins in the familiar setting of 62 West Wallaby Street with the ever faithful and long suffering Gromit sitting at his sewing machine making miles of bunting to adorn National Trust places across the country.

The film in numbers:

30 – number of people who contributed to the making of the film

3 – months it took to make

500 – hours taken to complete from storyboard to post production

60 – metres of bunting used to decorate West Wallaby Street and National Trust property

8 – hours spent brushing the grass with a fork to achieve the correct look

30 – kilograms of plasticine used

4 – number of Gromits used in filming

254 – weight in kilograms of the National Trust property in the film

Tony Berry, Visitor Experience Director of the National Trust, comments:

“The National Trust and Wallace and Gromit are two of Britain’s greatest treasures and we felt it fitting that in this summer of celebration we should bring them together. We are holding our very own premiere of  Wallace & Gromit’s Jubilee Bunt-a thon at our properties, it was made exclusively for the National Trust and we are really excited that it will encourage the nation to join us for an extra special Diamond Jubilee celebration.”

Nick Park, creator of Wallace and Gromit, comments:

“I have to pinch myself when I think how far Wallace and Gromit have come; from ideas in my head, to ‘film stars’ working with great organisations such as the National Trust, which the nation holds dear to its heart.  At Aardman we are thrilled that Wallace and Gromit have had a chance to explore all the Trust has to offer – from helping to put up bunting to enjoying their Wensleydale cheese platter at a picnic. Wallace and Gromit are in for a cracking summer at the National Trust.

“The National Trust has a special place in my heart from a childhood memory of completing a paint- by- numbers at Stourhead, to Montacute House, on which we based Tottington Hall in the Curse of the Were-rabbit.”

The nation’s much loved comedy duo have paired up with the Trust for some cracking Jubilee parties this summer which as well as the debut of the mini animation and behind the scenes ‘making of…’ film, will also feature Wallace and Gromit model making workshops with trained Aardman animators, themed trails, a variety of fun games for children and exclusive themed retail and catering treats for all the family.

Wallace & Gromit’s Jubilee Bunt-a-thon will be shown on 4th June at fourteen National Trust properties as part of the Summer of Celebration Diamond Jubilee parties.  For a behind-the-scenes look at the making of the Wallace and Gromit film visit www.nationaltrust.org.uk/wallaceandgromit.

National Trust launches new heritage gardening courses

Two new heritage gardening courses have been announced by the National Trust this week, representing the charity’s most significant development in horticultural training for 20 years.

Co-funded by the National Gardens Scheme, the new courses will offer budding gardeners the opportunity to study for qualifications in heritage gardening and replace the Trust’s Careership training scheme launched in 1991 [1].

For those new to heritage gardening, the one year Foundation Certificate will develop the essential practical skills needed to look after and nurture heritage gardens, and is aligned with the Royal Horticultural Society’s (RHS) Level 2 in Horticulture.

The two year Diploma in Heritage Gardening is unique to the Trust and offers what is arguably the most comprehensive grounding in heritage gardening available for those with some prior experience and relevant qualifications.  It builds on the Foundation level training, providing trainees with an in-depth and working knowledge of heritage gardens.

Mike Calnan, Head of Gardens at the National Trust said:  “Our new gardening courses are a great step forward and have been designed to develop the modern skills needed to sustainably manage major heritage gardens into the future.  We believe they are a significant development for the sector and fill the training gap between existing botanic horticulture and amenity gardening diplomas.

“We can now offer two entry points and great opportunities for people wishing to develop a long and rewarding career in heritage gardening and a spring board for those aspiring to become our Head Gardeners of the future.”

Developed in conjunction with Reaseheath College in Cheshire [2], the courses are largely practical, with trainees based at major National Trust gardens.  To supplement this practical learning, trainees also spend 10 weeks a year at Reaseheath developing their horticultural knowledge.

In addition to traditional and modern techniques used in major gardens, trainees on the Diploma course will cover plant conservation, GPS surveys and plant databases; garden history, period planting styles, restoration, and interpretation and visitor engagement techniques.

Trainees on both courses will be able to work alongside the National Trust’s most experienced Head Gardeners in some of the most famous gardens in the country such as Sissinghurst, Hidcote and Stourhead. They will also learn about garden conservation from the National Trust’s gardening experts and will have opportunities to develop additional skills and knowledge with placements at other Trust gardens.

The new courses start in September 2012 and there are 10 places available on each.  Applicants can find out more information at www.nationaltrust.org.uk/gardencareers and apply from 27 April 2012.

[1] Launched in 1991, the National Trust’s successful Careership programme has trained over 200 new gardeners over the past 11 years.  The Careership programme will finish in August 2012.

[2] Reaseheath College is a specialist land based college set in the heart of Cheshire near Nantwich. The College has a wide range of world class facilities including a large Agricultural estate and 21 acres of high quality grounds. The Horticulture department has a plant nursery and commercial glasshouse resources and a demonstration fruit and vegetable garden, a design studio using the latest  high class IT technology and a commercial 9 hole golf course. The college prides itself in delivering outstanding education to a wide range of customers and has extensive industrial and community links within the Horticultural industry. We are extremely proud to be in partnership with the National Trust and delivering both of these qualifications, and to progress the opportunities available to all those who want to progress in Heritage Gardening.