When I tell people I’m a gardener and I work at a Care Home in Surrey I can only imagine what they think. I’m pretty sure they don’t envisage the scale of the beautiful grounds I have here at Birtley House Nursing Home.
As a professional gardener I can’t think of a better place to work. Every whim a gardener may have is catered for. I have a kitchen gardener to grow produce for the house with any excess being sold to visitors and the local greengrocer. Formal gardens in the shape of a standalone rose garden with ‘royal roses’ the theme, the secret garden with it’s standard wisterias and shady summer house to sit. And the long grass walk edged in stone and bordered by informal herbaceous planting offering seasonal interests.
Several mixed borders provide the informality, dotted around the garden they either soften the walls of the main house or encourage residents and visitors to venture further into the gardens to discover their content.
Formal lawns and the endless work they need to keep them neat and tidy are tempered by the informal areas left to grow wild. In the orchard, the closely cut grass paths through swathes of meadow grass’s swaying in the warm breeze on a summer’s day is always a highlight.
We have a pond, fed from a pool at the top of a rock garden, where Koi can be seen wallowing in the shallows on warm days. Ducks, Moorhens and occasional Canada Geese all enjoy the calm waters and shelter under the weeping willow.
From the Beech lined driveway leading up to Birtley House and all through the formal gardens majestic trees punctuate the landscape with their splendour.
During the winter months I venture through the sweeping grasslands that lead down to the trout lake and into the 40 acre woodland to do some crown lifting or pruning of Rhododendrons. The bonfires from the brash are always welcome on a cold day. Alternatively, I can go a little further into the 700 tree cider apple orchard and manage the trees to ensure a plentiful crop that we harvest to be turned into Brandy.
No days the same, the variety of work here is incredible and with the potential to improve existing areas and further develop new areas I can’t ever say my days work is done. For me Birtley House is a wonderful place to enjoy the career I’ve chosen, and I hope over the years more and more people can enjoy all it has to offer.