Robert Parkin. Head Gardener, Craftsman Gardener, and Plantsman

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The garden of true plants people, Burton Agnes

http://www.burtonagnes.com/Home.html

These images are of the garden at Burton Agnes Hall in east Yorkshire. This is the venue for one of the many plant shows that we do each year. You will find more listed under http://www.flowerpowerfairs.co.uk/

The garden at Burton Agnes has a charm and informality that I have come to love, it is a garden for plants, and for the plant lover. The same can be said for the garden of the late Major Lawrence Johnston (now National Trust) at Hidcote Manner. The planting and the plants make it one of the most outstanding gardens in the world. In Yorkshire the walled garden at Scampston Hall, though heavily designed and altered is inspired by good planting. All that the garden needs in the way of hard landscape features are there, but they are a framework for plants, and for access around the garden. It is very much a garden to see and to enjoy plants.

Few modern gardens today can say that. More and more hard landscape and design features intended to catch the eye and to take your attention away from good planting seem to prevail. So many RHS Chelsea Flower Show Gardens are structures of steel and rock, mixed with concrete and gravel. To get some  idea of what you can do with soft landscaping (plants) visit this landscape through the seasons. It is a pleasure to spend time in a garden that is loved. And – go to Hidcote too..

http://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/hidcote/

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Young Plants Grown Under Shade frames

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Please visit these pages and the posts to see a little of my work. Some illustrate my thoughts, while others show landscapes and gardens where I have worked or have been associated with, and admire. The site is being added to when I have time, and when new projects and ideas take shape.

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Home Grown Stock

http://acpfoxglove.wordpress.com/at-angela-parkin-plants-in-north-yorkshire/

Plant material is now expensive, especially when you need a lot to do the job. Both Angela, my wife, and myself have commercial horticulture (nursery) experience, and we raise many of the plants that we use from our own small nursery on the North York Moors. This also has the benefit of allowing us to be sure that we know what we are getting, and to grow good clean stock. This is vital when you are planting new beds and borders and indeed introducing new plants into existing areas. The ‘primitive’ frames that can be seen in the images are home produced in a nursery area. Cost effective in three years they have raised in excess of 10.000 plants (herbaceous perennials, grasses, ferns, hellebore and climbers) This is ‘old fashioned’ growing, the way nurseryman used to grow in years gone by. In the mid 1960’s I can still just remember them being around, especially in East Anglia. I have fond memories of buying my very first dahlia’s from such a nursery as a young boy, and growing them on the site of my dad’s old greenhouse, cleared after a storm. I have never forgotten it. Today the site of that nursery, run by a middle aged couple then, is a produce warehouse. We have lost a lot, some of it perhaps not so good. But with it has gone many traditional and valued ways of gardening and growing.

Profile. And a little about my past.

My dad once said to me on a visit to where I lived and worked as a head gardener, “I often think of you down here”. He went on to explain that he meant working in a place of such peace and beauty. My parents lived close to a busy Nottingham and Derby, where I had been born and raised.  He recognized what I had come to understand, that for me gardening is not work, it’s a way of life that I love and something that I want to do everyday. It allows me to spend time in some of the most beautiful places in Britain.

Part of a landscape were I was head gardener for some little time. This Elizabethan Estate lies in Herefordshire, one of the best places in Britain for growing.

With over thirty years experience as a professional qualified horticulturalist working at all levels, from an indentured apprentice serving a six year horticultural apprenticeship. Working as an under gardener and eventually head gardener to a large estate of some 1000 acres, my life has always revolved around plants, gardening, nature and the natural landscape.

It has been about living and working outdoors, in all seasons, and in all weathers. My work has included every aspect of gardening and horticulture, and the experience that I have gained has led me to understand that no garden is typical, all are unique, and all bring opportunity and challenge.  In every single case the garden and the landscape is a special place to be, and a special place to work in.

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For more information on my work please visit the ‘recent posts’ and pages.
Robert Parkin

Tel: 01751 432948

e-mail: robert@robertparkin.com

31st of March 2013

robert@robertparkin.com

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A few favorites and thoughts.

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One of my favorites and home grown the rare Podophyllum veitchii var. “Marbled Leaves” The flowers followed by wonderful red ‘fruits’. I grow this in large containers and pots

And cammasia. Also container and pot grown. Wonderful to dot around the garden.

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When you can live and work in landscapes like this, where else would you want to be?. To be surrounded by colour, scent, warmed by sunshine and then the smell of autumn and winters chill. At the end of the day home to a warm fireside and tea. Gardening in practice and in thought is a timeless pursuit.

And gardening should, I believe, be approached in way that will disturb as little as possible, and you must know what is in the garden long before you even begin any work. A Head Gardener worth his salt would know every inch of his ‘patch’. He would record in detail and keep a diary of where, when, how and why, for the garden and all in it. This way he would know and understand what needed doing and when, and what he needed to be careful of for the simple reason that the landscape may not look delicate, but it is. So much can be undone without care, thought and respect. Every time you turn a spade full of soil, hoe or fork borders. Each time to make a mark you disturb a living process. Believe you me, I have worked with Head Gardeners who could make your toes curl, and much else besides if you just went about things ‘willy-nilly’ (a Derbyshire saying) But, imagine what those gardens and estates looked like. Just imagine the knowledge and understanding, the history they had, stretching back decades and centuries.

This does not mean you cannot undertake drastic changes to a landscape. You can, but you must make sure that you understand and care for those changes, before they start – and that the garden and nature will work work with you only if you show a great deal of respect to the land itself.

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