Of uniform and fairy lights

Exciting Christmas preparations but also a look to next spring with the volunteers at RHS Garden Harlow Carr

Volunteer Joan modelling the new uniformThis week has been very exciting as this is the week that the garden volunteers have been trying on their new uniforms so they can get the correct sizes. Each day they have been coming up into the office and trying on assorted fleeces, coats, polo shirts, boots and gloves. Sizes were being tried and swapped around at breakneck speed and everyone was chatting away. Very quickly the whole office looked like an episode of Are You Being Served, the popular sit-com from the 1970s. I almost expected John Inman to pop round the corner with a tape measure round his neck! (Apologies to those of you too young to remember).

Anyway, the colour of the uniform is a rich purple and the volunteers were all really delighted to be getting it: when the volunteers re-start in the spring next year they will all look very smart (as modelled by Joan, above right).

Elsewhere in the garden the squirrels are getting really cheeky, Alison (the other garden manager) and I were walking down to lunch and a squirrel was perched on the Malus ‘Evereste’ hedge which surrounds the productive kitchen garden, eating one of the little crab apples off it, not 60cm (2ft) away from us. He wasn't interested in moving away when we approached and only reluctantly scampered off with an irritated flick of his tail when we were nearly upon him.

The renewed yew hedge, all present and correctAlso, the yew hedge (Taxus baccata, left) at the front of the house is having a make-over and we have been adding some extra plants where there had previously been gaps. These yews had not ‘taken’ (successfully established) when they were put in and the remaining hedge looked like someone with a rather toothless grin. Anyway, they are now restored to a full smile and they look very well with it. The best bit about the continuous hedge line is that we can string our little fairy lights along it, ready for the Christmas light up. The whole site has been furiously busy making the most delightful natural decorations for Christmas using material from the garden. The inventiveness constantly amazes me…more of this in the next instalment.

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The Royal Horticultural Society is the UK’s leading gardening charity. We aim to enrich everyone’s life through plants, and make the UK a greener and more beautiful place.